Category Archives: Apple

Tiger Woods Apple Core – $36,000

Apparently the keyword in any auction is ‘APPLE.’

Wow, at this price, the guy could’ve gotten 18 Speedway of the South sets but hey, he’s got an Apple core … see, paying $1,500 for the Speedway set, not so crazy now, huh?

😉

Auction Link (sorry, closed in case you had $40k laying around and wanted an Apple core).

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Filed under Advertising, Apple, Computing, Film, Internet, Marketing, Media, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Mac iCar (The Apple Car)

© Disney/Pixar & Mattel Red Line Club

No, it is not scheduled to come out in the next two months.

Beyond that, who really knows?

My opinion is that it will be out at some future time.

The time doesn’t matter because whenever it comes out, Mattel will sell it by the bushels.

(A bushel of course, being 4 pecks … er, okay, how about 48 apples to a bushel as an Apple to apple comparison?  🙂  )

It is literally an ace up the sleeve … anytime they’ll need revenue for the CARS line, they can whip it out … er, roll it out.

There has always been some concerns that Mattel doesn’t have the right to issue the car or now that it’s been released, those theorists have now modified their fears that it was a limited one-shot deal.

First, that makes no sense logically. Unless there’s some huge falling out between Apple & Pixar, that fear makes very little sense. Is Apple very protective of its imagery and logo, of course – so is any corporation these days because dilution of trademark is well, dilution of trademark …

But in this case, Pixar & Apple could not be more closely tied together and in some senses, even more so than 99% of corporations. In fact, in most corporations, you find it easier to deal with an outside 3rd partner than another department because at least with a outside partner, everyone understands their motive is profit and branding while with two internal departments, the fear is you might make the other guy look good and he takes your job someday (or becomes your boss) … in the case of Apple & Pixar, John Lassetter can pick up the phone to Steve Jobs and vice versa to resolve any issues with one phone call – not many companies have two heads who actually work together as well. So, Apple & Steve Jobs knows that John Lassetter & Pixar is not going to place the Apple logo on a garbage barge … of course, Apple will want to review the design but if John Lassetter & Pixar signs off to Mattel, they will accept it as if their brother vouched for it.

Apple certainly isn’t going to need the licensing money from selling a Piston Cup racer but again, because of the close relationship – they trust Pixar much more than any two corporations can.

So, where does this lead us. Now, I have not look at this particular contract so I cannot say 100% anything but generally, when you agree to license your logo for a film property and for ancillary merchandise, you agree to license for a certain amount of time and with certain provisions for approval. In the case where the “film role” is a car, it’s natural that the merchandising include a facsimile diecast car … anything outside of this “role,” will require new approvals – for instance, if they decided they wanted to make an Apple Car playset (which does not appear in the film), they would need additional approval but the car will be included in the general merchandising rights. With that said, there are obvious sign-offs for approval for each appearance. For instance, Apple probably wouldn’t approve a “wrecked” version of the Apple car.

Conversely, Mattel realizes this car is not only wanted by the CARS collector but also by  Mac fans so there’s no real point in selling it as a single carded car when Mattel can make so much more selling it separately … (maybe not $250 as its going for on eBay) but certainly more than $3.59 … bottom line, Mattel could bundle a sealed box of 18 of just Dale Jr.’s & the Apple car and the store shelves would be stripped bare … so my prediction is that we won’t see the Apple CAR in another form until at least 2009 and it’ll be in some special format – why not, it’s clear people will pay anywhere from $40 to $75 for this car without a moment’s hesitation (at $250, the hesitation is a bit longer 🙂  ).

But when will it be out is another question. We still have 4 long years before the next movie comes out – this car is worth its weight in gold to Mattel. They can release on tax day in a recession and make serious money with it. Imagine it bundled with a Pit Crew and a trailer? $99? $149?  AND it will sell out. So, there are hundred of CARS we’re still willing to buy so my prediction is it will be out but not just yet …

(With that said, look for an update to this chart in the next day or so 🙂  ).

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Filed under Advertising, Apple, Apple Mac, Computing, Film, Internet, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Media, Retail, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Piston Cup Racer Checklist & The Next 6 Coming This Fall

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED AT THE SITE WE ARE MOVING TO – TAKE FIVE A DAY.COM. Just click on the above logo to be taken to the latest update on the two new Piston Cup Racers coming as launchers. Enjoy. Thanks!

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Of course, if you bought the Motor Speedway of the South set, you now have 36 Piston Cup Racers … not counting duplicates.

If you’re collecting them only as they are released, you should have 13 of the Piston Cup Racers:

Lightning McQueen
Chick Hicks
Dale Jr.
Gasprin
The King
Leak Less
Nitrorade
No Stall
RPM
Octane Gain
Tow Cap
Trunk Fresh
Vinyl Toupee

With of course, Trunk Fresh hitting the shelves (aka: the cube, aka: Action Alley Display pallet drop) bringing us to 13 available outside the set.

With the already quasi-announced Gift 3-packs of Shiny Wax & Spare Mint (with a Pit Crew & a Crew Chief) …, that would be 14 & 15.

Add one, Re-Volting included in the forthcoming Race & Chase Gift Pack – we’re at 16.

Now, we have three more scheduled for Fall: Sputter Stop, Transberry Juice, & View Zeen.


It doesn’t appear they will be a Movie Moments pack and it seems unlikely they will appear as singles – my feeling is they will be part of a box set, Dinoco 400 Part II? Like last year’s 7 Piston Cup Racers, we’ll get 4 repeats and these 3 as the new? Now sure but I’m throwing it out there … and/or will they be designed like the Race & Chase Gift Pack above so if we buy all 20 Gift Packs along with the Motor Speedway track, we can build a giant track?

So, at the end of Fall, 2008 – we should be at @19 Piston Cup Racers available outside the Motor Speedway set which brings up an interesting point, if you’re collecting down the line, do you care if a Launcher release is substituted in for what came with the Motor Speedway set. Well, if you do, you might want to keep track of the production numbers assigned to the Motor Speedway CARS – they are different from the regular releases … of course, it’s impossible to keep track of each version – for instance, my opened, original April 2006 McQ has no production code under the CAR but the latest launcher does and presumably that number is different than the WOC version and the SC version … suffice to say, I think it’s easier to keep track of the MSOS set & any deviation from this (yes, numbering for Tow Cap & Gaspirin from the Movie Moments IS DIFFERENT than than the numbering for the MSOS set – even though you would’ve thought they’d be the same based on the presumption they’d be in production at about the same time).

Here’s a chart of the MSOS racers that are available outside the set with all the possible versions it may have come from. The 4 digit number is the production code under each Piston Cup racer from the MSOS set.

The racers with a black border means it’s coming soon in that format.

For Sputter Stop, Transberry Juice, & View Zeen, it’s still a guess as to what format they might be available in.

* Of course, at this point, Dale Jr’s ‘aggro’ face is only available as a MSOS Piston Cup Racer … when Mattel switches from the WOC motif, will Dale Jr. be changing to v2.0?

** Vinyl Toupee was available in the UK as a bagged version as part of a promo.

ALL PHOTOS courtesy of Robert & www.SpeedwayoftheSouth.com and used with his permission. Be sure to check out Robert’s site for full-sized photos of all the racers. Thanks!

And happy collecting!

(Oh yeah, we should hear about the holiday season releases at SD Comic Con so we may not be done and no, no word on the Apple CAR …).

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Filed under Advertising, Apple, CARS, Checklist, collecting, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Media, Retail, Toys, TV

Pixar’s Brad Bird on Fostering Workplace Innovation

Gigaom sums up a McKinsey Quarterly feature on Brad Bird’s management style & thoughts at Pixar.

Steve Jobs hired him, says Bird, because after three successes (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Toy Story 2) he was worried Pixar might struggle to stay innovative. Jobs told him: “The only thing we’re afraid of is complacency—feeling like we have it all figured out,”“…We want you to come shake things up.” Bird explains to McKinsey how he did it — and why, for “imagination-based companies to succeed in the long run, making money can’t be the focus.”

The summary is available at GigaOM.

If you prefer to read the original article with interactive features, follow this McKinsey Quarter link – registration required (free).

For fans of Pixar, there is a great documentary airing on Starz this month, THE PIXAR STORY.

The producer of the film also worked on this official book published a year ago, “To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios.”

There is also a new book I just bought but haven’t read yet, “The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company.”

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Filed under Apple, Computing, Design, Disney Pixar, Film, Financial, Marketing, Media, Retail, TV

Mac’s: 66% Market Share – Facts Not Spin

It would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad. NPD’s report that Apple Mac’s market share of $1,000+ personal computer is 66% is not really subject to interpretation – except apparently for the last dying gasp of PC fans.

Here’s how this works.

Of the people who had and were willing to spend $1,000 on a personal computer, 66% looked, shopped and choose a Mac. It’s as simply as that.

You can dig further down but extrapolate that generally, the more well-heed your customers are, the better off you are (as a seller) – whether you’re selling cars, refrigerators or computers. For the company selling products, it generally means you have higher margins or better yet, have created a brand of higher value.

In other words, the market share of Windows OS personal computers in the $1,000+ group has slipped from 98% to 34% in 7 years. That is not a good trend.

Why is that? Part of the reason is that Microsoft has poisoned its own name. They traded short term profits (1992 to 2002) for long term branding. By neglecting Windows and placing their NAME large & square in FRONT of every virus report, every global trojan and the poor customer choice of blaming the hardware manufacturer who then blamed Microsoft for the user woes – what are they left with?

A brand that is perceived as a commodity that’s just built in – it’s the OS assigned to you at work much like the OS on the fax machine or the copier. It’s just there. Now, in the beginning of the desktop technology age (1985 to 1995), Microsoft’s brand held esteem as the leading edge of technology and why not buy the brand I’m using at work, right? Why not get my opportunity to own the leading edge also? But Microsoft frittered that away through arrogance, later neglect and now apparently cluelessness – what does the name Microsoft now mean to the average personal computing consumer?

It is the OS you get when you buy a $499 computer. It’s useable, it’s passable but that’s all it’s worth. How can we tell? What percentage of PC users paid for the full Vista upgrade? Versus what percentage of Mac users paid for the full retail upgrade?

And of course, now this stat. Which basically can be summed up as such: If I have or am willing to spend more than $1,000 on a personal computer, I’m 66% more likely to buy a Mac. That’s what the numbers say in black & white. Not many ways to spin it.

Whether you think Macs are over-priced does not matter in this equation because there are literally thousands of PC’s choices that are readily available – it’s not as though there is limited competition in the $1,000+ PC category – the bottom line is those can afford or are willing to spend more than $1,000 on a computer will 2 to 1 buy a Mac now after considering a PC.

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with selling to the masses at the low end – there is certainly money to be made, the audience is large – the margins are much lower but it’s a living.

But PC fans & MS still think it’s 1995 – it’s not for Microsoft’s real reality. Face the facts, they are simply the low priced OS of “choice” for those who don’t wish to spend $1,000 on a personal computer. Microsoft should stop having pretensions otherwise, that is the problem. Somehow, because Bill Gates is worth $50 BILLION dollars, that means his company brand should carry high esteem and brand worth but it’s exactly like Wal-Mart. There are dozens of Wal-Mart billionaires also and like WM, the store – they are profitable but everytime WM tries to go upscale or even slightly upmarket, they get pushed back to their new natural order (with WM, it’s the George apparel line).

It is exactly the same with Microsoft now. They occupy the low tier of brand value for consumers now – hence why MSN, the ISP could not defeat AOL (after MS spent $4 BILLION dollars!), why WIN mobile phones sell so poorly after 8 years in the marketplace, nor could they “revolutionalize” the watch industry … not the home networking industry and why after 18 months, they have “shipped/sold” as many Zunes that Apple sells in 1 WEEK.

When given a CHOICE, consumers do not choose Microsoft unless price is the sole factor.

This is also why MSN Search is such a colossal failure – even when FREE and a switch is 2-seconds away, MSN or LIVE Search is still such a failure and LOSING market share after plowing $6 bilion in R&D & marketing.

Consumers didn’t randomly arrive at their mistrust and assignment of MS products and technology to the low tier/price as the sole factor in decision making – this is a hard fought battle of amazing neglect on Microsoft’s part. From blithely ignoring and blaming users for viruses and trojans, their solution after 6 YEARS and hundreds of millions of infections? – send us $100 for virus patches … to the case of the Xbox 360, instead of building consumer goodwill by actively acknowledging build & over-heating issues, again, their solution is to try and ignore the problem – again, poisoning their own well for a short term gain … triumphing 10-million console sales but not accounting for the 10-30% returned and non functional units … and after a year, they have lost 30% of the market to the Wii and slipping behind sales of the PS3 – the pattern repeats itself. They still have a fan base but beyond that?

This is a company that has literally and figuratively failed in EVERY consumer venture since 1995. The company has been propped up by enterprise sales so unlike most companies that can spend some $50 BILLION over the past ten years on divisions that has accounted for ZERO profit, they just keep plugging along as if showing up and saying we’re #1 is enough for everyone to fold up and go home. It doesn’t work that way in the consumer market. Microsoft should do two things – a) either just concentrate on the enterprise market or b) acknowledge that they are a lowly consumer brand and accept that fact and just sell on pricing. They have spent too long on poisoning their own name for anything loftier and even if you want to go upscale and upmarket – their recent attempts are just as feeble and ill-conceived such as the Zune or Vista – both positioned as if they’re cool and better than anyone else. They simply aren’t because it’s from Microsoft – a brand that consumers mistrust and associated with poor working technology. It can be fixed but first they have to get off their arrogant horse and realize they are riding an ass and not a horse – no one is fooled.

Buying Yahoo and/or causing further complications (such as requiring users to have a LIVE name to access anything) is only going to further sink their cause.

They are rapidly losing the highest margin customers to Apple. Those with more than $1,000 to spend on a computer are buying Macs 2 to 1.

We know in all computer sales, while PC sales have slowed to a few % points growth, Apple is galloping at 35% – of course, Apple is starting from a smaller base but growth is growth and apparently with each sale, Apple is obviously adding in revenue at $1k per machine while MS only adds $50 per machine in OEM Vista sales.

So, Microsoft is losing market share in the below $1,000 personal computer category – even to Linux in the below $500 category – and what is their response to forces pushing them in from all sides?

To buy Yahoo?

What happens if Google builds an internet desktop that doesn’t require Windows – knowing Google, it will be bundled for FREE with a $300 personal computer … leaving Microsoft with no high end margin sales (or very much diminished if Apple continues to add 35% growth every year) and Google gives away a free OS?

Windows 7 available in 3 years selling for $169 will resolve this?

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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: The Countdown to Motor Speedway of the South Has Begun!

Yep, it’s real and it’s almost here.

Clear your calendar and your credit cards.

Make sure your broadband bill is paid and you have a backup generator come May 20, 2008.

Make sure the cat or dog hasn’t frayed your keyboard USB connector.

West Coasters like me will have to have our caffeine injected and ready to start typing and clicking by 9 AM … but East Coasters can meander in at noon.

Briefly, the price is $299.00 (+ 12.95 S&H).

Limited to 1,000.

Yes, you need a membership in the Red Line Club ($24.95+shipping) and GET THAT TAKEN CARE OF before May 20, 2008 – you want avoid any problems.

You must FIRST sign up for the Hot Wheels Club (free) – then click on SHOP.

Yes, you can only buy ONE per RLC membership …

… But you can buy FIVE RLC memberships at the SAME MAILING ADDRESS!

BUT you will need 5 emails addresses and you have to log off before logging back on.

Any other questions, we think we pretty much answered any questions you might have in our earlier posts – here, here & here.

(Whoa, we started talking about these 6 months ago?!)

Good luck one and all and may the best 1,000 of us get as may as we want, need, desire and crave 🙂

For those of you who plan on opening their set, may you live to be a thousand and be blessed with harmony, wisdom, beauty and a Red Ransberg … for those who just intend to rush onto eBay, may your mouse click and return key stop functioning 🙂 … BTW, RLC items are NOT allowed to be pre-sold on eBay so you can report any sellers who pre-list and pre-sell the set starting today or until it is actually IN HAND. At that point, Mattel no longer restricts (re)selling a RLC item …

After you sign up, you can read more details about the set HERE … (there is a typo in Mattel’s list – Gask-It is #80, not the third #84)

Our first un-boxing photos are HERE.

If you’d like to send us yours when you get the set and open it – be sure and email them to us or send us a link!

For those of you are undecided on whether to buy, it’s $8.30 a CAR not including S&H, quite a bit of inflation from the last exclusive Red Line box set of $5.51 a CAR.

For those keeping track, here are the Piston Cup CARS out:

Lightning McQueen
Chick Hicks
Dale Jr.*
Gasprin
The King
Leak Less
Nitrorade
No Stall
RPM
Octane Gain
Tow Cap
Vinyl Toupee

NOTE – the Speedway set Dale Jr. is a variant.

Shiny Wax #82 & Sparemint #93 are announced as 3-packs plus we have seen Trunk Fresh #34 as a launcher so 14 (if you’re a variant collector) or 15 of the 36 CARS are available or will soon be available in other packs … as people have asked, does it mean every Piston Cup Race CAR will be released in some form or another … Probably, possibly, maybe … yes, likely but will they all be available in 2008? Highly unlikely but anything is possible. Yes, that’s no answer but that’s the Mattel answer.

It seems that Mattel is aiming to use the single cards to sell the highest visibility CARS and CARS that are the most interesting looking might get a solo card release – so I imagine that some of the Piston Cup CARS might get solo card releases like Tac-o-Mint, Mac iCar (Mattel is calling it the Apple Car) and a few others but some are frankly not all are that visually exciting (of course, to us, we’ll take anything) so most will make appearances as 3-packs with their crew chief and Movie Moments (okay, the Apple CAR is more likely to be a Movie Moment packed with Mike or something …) but does that mean everything will come out at some point – that’s probably the plan but will it be 100% certain? No … There is no way of telling ,,, just as most guesses were on the lower end scale of $249 and not $299 … so anything, everything and nothing is possible, impossible or probable … the bottom line is Mattel doesn’t even know … but they would never admit that 😉

So, now we know pricing – you in? You out? You want to vent?

ADDED THOUGHTS BASED ON COMMENTS: The Motor Speedway is its own unique entity. We already can see that in addition to  a couple three packs announced (Shiny Wax, SpareMint), there is also a photo pointed out by reader “Jeff” from HK that a four pack of LM, King, Chick & Re-volting ($15.99? $19.99?) is ready to go … so it certainly appears that the CARS themselves are as “exclusive” as the WM CARS were “exclusives.” They are exclusive unique to this packaging, time, pricing and place (in other words, Mattel is the date who loves you forever until the Sun comes up and hey, it’s another forever 😉 ) … buying this set assures you of having 25 (including Dale Jr variant) Piston Cup racers in your hands in a couple weeks (plus the ones you already own). The bottom line is whether that is worth $300+ to you.  Just be aware that in a month’s time, only 22 might left unique and that still leaves us with Toyfair announcements and the holidays where last year we saw some 20+ CARS released between summer and the end of the year so while it’s unlikely we will see all of them but maybe 8 more Piston Cup racers? So, eventually, all might be re-released but does that detract from the set itself? That is your call. The short term future of this line can be predicted but a year from now, who knows. So, $300+ guarantees the Piston Cup racers in hand in two weeks, after that, Mattel might flirt, tease, disappoint you, cause you grief or make you wonder what you ever saw … 🙂 but hey, Mattel never said they were a cheap date … at least you’ll always have May 20, 2008 …

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Filed under Advertising, Apple, Checklist, collecting, Film, Marketing, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Motor Speedway of the South Sneak Peek

Yes, we are are edging closer to an actual release date for the Motor Speedway of the South set with REAL evidence of the set. The “Sneak Peek” photos are up at the Hot Wheels Collectors Club (in the Red Line Club Sneak Peek section). Only PC users can see the photos so they are provided here before you sign up – info on how to join are in our post link at the end.

NO PRICE.

NO ACTUAL RELEASE DATE YET.

As we only in the ‘sneak peek’ phase of the sale.

For those unfamiliar with the normal process for the Red Line Club. During the year, Mattel sells 10-15 exclusive cars (or sets) to Red Line Club members. Often, they will put up ‘sneak peek’ photos (not always) but then about 11-12 days out will announce when the item will be available for purchase and start a countdown counter.

As of right now, there is an exclusive ’67 Ford Mustang with a countdown counter that ticks to zero on April 29th so what does that tell us about when the Motor Speedway of the South will go on sale?

We can do an additional process of elimination. Since there is a Hot Wheels car on sale to members on the 29th of April, and there is almost always 10 days from the announcement of “what’s new & exclusive” to the day of the actual sale process – the earliest the set will go on sale is probably May 13, 2008.

Mattel almost always lists the start time on a Tuesday and the 13th is a Tuesday.

So on May 3rd or May 4th, the official announcement, the price and the countdown clock should go up … IF the on-sale date is the 13th.

The subsequent Tuesdays are May 20th and May 28th.

It would highly unlikely to stretch into June as the “sneak peeks” rarely if ever go up more than 2-3 weeks out before the official price & release date announcement. (They also mention ‘time to go racing in May.’)

And it’s not likely to be the 6th, the first Tuesday in May since that sort of crowds/clouds the preview & selling period of the current car (the 2008 RLC™ sELECTIONs™ ’67 Ford Mustang) – every once in a while though, the cars offered will overlap, not likely but possible.

And no, we don’t know if there are any exclusives AND of course, they will not announce if the CARS will be available in another configuration or when.

The only real mini-surprise is that they are not on cards but that makes sense, it makes for a nicer display and it saves Mattel money – since some of the Piston Cup racers barely make it on screen and Mattel can apparently only use ‘official’ artwork rendered by Pixar (for instance, their Rollin’ Bowlin’ Mater card featured regular Mater), there would be a lot more work on their part to come up with card art for all 36 racers.

Any other questions – presumably, they’ve been answered in our recent & older posts so good luck everyone!

(the link shows photos & names of each CAR but the sneak peek from Mattel also included some more officially shots of the Piston Cup racers)

All Photos © Mattel Inc, Mattel RLC Club & Disney/Pixar.

By the way, for international customers – in an older post of ours, we have some suggestions on getting a US pre-paid credit card (scroll down to middle of post). Now, I have NOT tested this out for the Mattel Red Line Club purchases so I am not saying it’s 100% guaranteed but it’s a suggestion you can test out or try if you’re interested in trying to avoid eBay. Good luck

ALSO NOTE: To sign up for the Red Line Club, you must FIRST be a member of the Hot Wheels Club (which is free) so sign up in the HWC first – then click on SHOP and add a Red Line Club membership to your cart.

Un-boxing UPDATE POST here.

mcq-doc.jpg

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Microsoft to Open Retail Stores: Bullet Proof Glass Industry Rejoices!

Appropriately, a web site called Fudzilla is reporting that Microsoft is going to open retail stores.

It’s time for shareholders to weep a little more.

Everytime, Microsoft has a brainstormin’ meeting, it’s more money down the drain:

Let’s buy Yahoo! ($45 BILLION)

Let’s launch a DAP/MP3 Player! (3% marketshare) ($1 BILLION)

XBox – The Xbox division is @$16 BILLION in the hole after 8 years.

MSN – $1.1 BILLION in R&D & a marketing blitz is all we need to get MSN going ($700 million – 2002), 2005 & 2007).

MSN is down to 8.4% (Google at 70%). Nice use of $2 BILLION dollars. Most people lose 50% of their market share in 2 years by not spending any money on a product, only MS can spend $2 BILLION for the same result.

Let’s spend 6 years and $6 BILLION on creating Vista … and of course …
“Microsoft is planning to promote the launch with a $500 million marketing campaign”

The list goes on and on – why? The simple fact is that when consumers have a choice, they do not choose Microsoft. This isn’t some whim. Microsoft worked hard to destroy their credibility as the leading edge of technology from 1995. After that, they simply thought they had everyone else locked down and out and could just rest so they offered products such as OSes riddled with hundreds of thousands of different infections … or me-too products such as PDA’s, watches, Talking Barney’s, video consoles, MP3 player, home networking or MSN and both an ISP & as search … all failures in the sense that they offered nothing new and they are ALL are losing money or losing market share.

In fact, they have become the “dollar-store” of technology. They are only worth buying if it’s rock bottom $399 pricing – why PC makers margins are all falling because of association with MS OS … why bother paying for even a $999 machine when it’s just going to run as well/poorly as a $399 machine?

Hey, if the shareholders don’t care, why should we?

Now, another meeting and another “brilliant” idea without mentioning you-know-who in the meeting.

It is almost laughable how clueless they are.

It would be like the IRS opening retail stores. Come. Mingle. Hang out.

Though this is a good plan for the bullet proof glass industry. You know Microsoft, they’re not just going to open 1 store at a time, that’s no way to spend money fast, if the budget isn’t a $1 BILLION, why bother so I’m sure they’ll sign 20-year leases at 100 locations.

Photo Courtesy of Pacific Bulletproof.com (where I go for my bullet proofing 😉 )

“Sir, I can’t help you, it’s a hardware issue – reformat the drive and then come back … yes, this is bulletproof glass, why do you ask? Have a nice MSN/Live Day!”

So, how exactly are you going to find employees to staff this place?

Who here would like to stand at a desk and answer questions about why ME, 2000, NT, XP or Vista is not functioning correctly?

Who thinks there might just be a few slightly annoyed to raging Windows customers?

Will they be taking red-button-of-death XBox returns and softly announce they’ll get another in 4-6 weeks?

Will they answer why Microsft Plays4Sure WMA is not the same as Zune WMA?

Can they point us to where the Apple store is in the mall?

Microsoft doesn’t really get that consumers don’t really like them. They don’t seem to notice that when consumers have a choice, they don’t buy MS. The OS issue is a heated one but let’s look at some more neutral markets. Look at the home networking gear they tried to sell. While there are some known brands, there are plenty of detractors for #1 & #2 but MS couldn’t even crack that market – why? Because MS poisoned the brand name. The average consumer took a look and decided – NO MORE IN MY HOUSE, DO NOT WANT.

Or using MSN search. It’s 100% FREE and takes 2 seconds to type and bookmark but now down to 8% market share? What does that tell you? That either their search results are poor or that consumers don’t believe their ‘technology’ is any good – either way, bad, bad news for MS.

That is why their retail stores will be a miserable failure as branding because they rank somewhere near the IRS. How often will you step into an IRS store to hang out?

AND at the IRS store, you know if you complain too much, they’ll audit you but aren’t you just going to go into the MS to vent and unload?

Yea, good luck finding employees.

(on the corporate side, they’re doing fine, IT guys made a choice and now are stuck with MS so whatever but when you’re spending your own cash, MS – DO NOT WANT).

Yet again, it proves that they are clueless about their place in the consumer’s mindset.

MS will build a 100 retail palaces because they think they are the king … but MS is really like those local cable ads where the guy wears a crown selling the very ordinary at a huge markup.

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A Million Unlocked iPhones Being Shown Off All Around the World – That’s a Tragedy?

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Even if the numbers of a million iPhones being unlocked are correct, that’s a MILLION iPhones walking around all over the world as FREE marketing and advertising for Apple – the most effective advertising of all – because it gives those users the cachet of doing something “not quite legal.” That they are “above the law,” and of course, eager to show off they know how to break the rules of normal society … (in reality, they just bought a phone but shhh, don’t tell them that 😉 )

Has Apple sold them a phone subsidized like nearly every phone on Earth at a 75-100% discount? No. Apple got full list price – even if someone marked it up, Apple made at least $399 or £299.

As for the revenue they are giving up that is recorded as future revenue in monthly chunks? Sure, but when you have to service cash, there are costs associated with servicing that cash …

Conversely, they also give up a lot of costs associated with it and saves them a lot of money. They don’t have to offer any tech support or service for these 1-million phones. How much accounting reserve is set aside normally for phone tech support that are locked to a service?

But it’s all just a gray number because how many tech-gadget companies would turn down an opportunity to seed a product in dozens of countries to build awareness & word of mouth? How much money would they have to spend to demo this product in dozens of countries – and less efficient than a “worldly” fan using word-of-mouth and a live demo to his/her friends? What could be better chachet than spending full price to own an “illegal” phone? AND then when the phone is available legally in that country? Won’t they be likely the first to convert anyway to get all the feature sets?

Isn’t all this worth the $10 dollars in revenue per month Apple “loses” (per person) if the phone were locked to its native carrier? Might this not be the CHEAPEST advertising possible AND Apple gets all the revenue upfront without having to share with anyone?

And of course, an “unlocked” phone is still entitled to the full range of services that the iTunes store sells. Of course, that varies from country to country but the most convenient choice is still the iTunes store. So it really a tragedy if Apple trades $10 from AT&T or Orange and instead sells a few iTunes movies, music tracks or videos?

It’s like anything else. When you sell something, you hope to garner a revenue stream down the line – as a car dealer hopes you always bring it back to them for service but at the end of the day, if you sold it at full price, then the rest is gravy.

Sure, you can view the future revenue stream as a 100% loss in accounting terms but if you look at the broader implications, it’s simply a tradeoff in overhead, advertising, marketing and a shift in revenues and expenses.

NY Times readers chime in on doing their part in advertising the iPhone everywhere around the world.

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Amazon Mp3 Will Affect Amazon Revenue More Than Apple’s iPod or iTunes

It’s pretty amazing the number of journalists who don’t look at a situation before just plowing ahead and writing words and “a conclusion.” They either choose to ignore the real world or they simply don’t understand it. Either way, it’s appalling.

Yes, Amazon’s entry into the “unlocked” DRM free Mp3 market will affect Apple & the iPod but its *affect* is DIFFERENT than you think.

If the iPod did NOT play the mp3 format, it would clearly have a major affect – just as when Sony’s players did not play Mp3’s directly (it would convert to ATRA mp3), when the iPod entered the market, people quickly choose the iPod over the Sony for the simple reason it played mp3’s very easily and transparently. Yes, the iPod looked nice and it was easy to use but if it did not play Mp3’s – there might be a few million out there versus 150 million.

There is no discussion. Mp3 is the preferred format for LEGAL and ILLEGAL downloads. Yes, there are others that hold some interest: mp4, FLAC, APE and even WMA but I don’t think anyone is going to argue that the preferred format OVERWHELMINGLY is not mp3 … sure, audiophiles can argue there are better formats but that’s not the issue.

It’s mp3.

You can do the math. 150 million iPods sold, 5 billion music tracks. That works out to about 34 tracks per iPod. Of course, it’s not 100% accurate as the bulk of iTunes sales are only in a few countries but even presuming double the number in the US per iPod user … and if iTunes music sales drops to ZERO for some reason?

How much is Apple losing in iTunes music store purchases per every iPod if that were true?

@$13.60

Apple is presumed to make $.20 per iTunes music track – not counting the cost of running the iTunes store and credit card fees … so actual profit is maybe $.07 a track but that’s presuming iTunes stores sales drops to zero which is unlikely … if Apple were to lose $7 per iPod in lost sales, I think there are dozens of ways Apple could make up that revenue including shaving $7 in costs from the iPod itself … but the bottom line is that the iTunes music sales are NOT the main reason people buy iPods.

Clearly, even people with iPod Shuffles have more than 34 or 68 tracks on their iPod. Whether it’s 100% legal converted from their own CD collection or LEGAL tracks downloaded from musician sites or other sites like iLike.com or ILLEGAL tracks, people know how to load tracks (1,000+ tracks) on a Nano (or up to 20,000+ tracks) on the Classic iPods. The iTunes store is a small part of the reason they buy an iPod.

So, what does that mean for Apple?

How about this ad from Amazon.com?

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That’s right. It might even help Apple sell MORE iPods, NOT less.

Because for all the people who hated the iTunes store for its DRM, now they have a reason to buy an iPod. Sure, it might help sell a few more SanDisks and Zunes but it’s clear that 7 out of every 10 mp3/DAP buyers are iPod buyers AND now that mp3 player sales overall are slowing, it’s rapidly becoming inefficient to stay in the marketplace if you’re 10th or even 5th in marketshare … leaving consumers with fewer choices down the line and we know what’s still the first choice with or without iTunes store purchases.

AMAZON?

If anything, this territory might be scary for Amazon than Apple.

Why?

Amazon sells about 6% of the 500 million CD’s sold in the U.S. or about 30 million CD’s. If we presume the average selling price is around $13 – that’s about $400 million in revenue for Amazon. Now, if you have the choice to buy 4 tracks of a CD for $.99 a piece (some tracks are less on Amazon, some more but let’s say an average of $.99) as an mp3 download or the full CD for $13, what’s your choice? That’s hard to say, of course but that’s precisely what Amazon has to deal with. Is that previous $13 purchase staying the same in revenue? Are you going to buy 13 tracks from 3 artists or are you going to stop at 4? In other words, is Amazon trading a $13 CD for $13 in downloads or are they trading $13 in revenue for $4 in revenue?

It’s impossible to say but the bottom line is that is the choice consumers have to make – sure, maybe instead of buying a $13 CD, that consumer can buy $25 in downloads … but what was holding back consumers before?

DRM?

If we know the average iPod user was spending @$34 at the iTunes music store, what held them back from spending more?

DRM? Really?

Are you that convinced it’s all about the DRM – that without DRM, sales would be up 50%, 100? 1000 percent?

Digital sales are increasing 50% a year anyway but for people WILLING to buy LEGAL tracks online were not doing so because they said DRM was the major hinderance?

I’m not saying the Amazon store won’t sell a lot of tracks but is Amazon trading CD sales for fewer downloads? What is the age breakdown of CD buyers? Is the music industry losing the bottom end of 12-24’s who are downloading free LEGAL tracks from their favorite bands from the musician’s MySpace page/iLike page and of course, clearly, they know how to download illegal tracks to fill their iPods?

Are these the same people who know how to convert tracks to a CD-R?

Sure, there’s a lot of blog talk about hatin’ DRM (and I certainly am NOT for it) but it’s sort like arguing against burning down the Amazon rain forrest, right? Who outside of 300 Brazilians arsonists are for it? But what are people really doing about it?

BOTTOM LINE

My prediction is that sure, Amazon will grab some market share from iTunes music store but as Amazon’s ads say – BUY an IPOD to add Amazon tracks … Apple merely shifts revenue from iTunes to iPods – not exactly a tragedy and if Apple convinces you to buy a few tracks, rent some movies, buy a music video – there are pretty much back to $34 in iTunes revenue AND they’ve sold you another iPod.

The people who really hate Apple and think they should hate the iPod are not going to swayed by this anyway. They are buying SanDisks and Creatives as it is now – this won’t change anything.

The 75% who own iPods might switch and buy some tracks from Amazon but for less savvy users who like being able to preview, buy and sync with one click don’t care about DRM – nothing will change.

And in 6 months or a year, the record labels will be forced to sell DRM free on iTunes … a) because they can’t ignore the place where 70% of the digital music online market is and b) they’ll be sued for restraint of trade by not selling the same thing to everyone – will the iPod marketshare drop to some small percentage? No. Will there as good of a user tie-in as iTunes to the iPod as SanDisk’s, Creative’s or even MS for their software to their hardware? Unlikely.

Now that Apple has added movie rentals and more movie choices, the only real scenario is that the iPod will maintain its market share or more likely, grow slightly. Apple is still the leader in every aspect except the bottom end. There is no small player with the screen, movie rentals & audiobooks to match the Nano, for those who want 160GB, there is no competitor at the same price and of course, the iPod Touch trumps them all and has the highest margins/pricetag – so another 6 months of clear sailing for Apple and the iPod.

Sure, the iTunes store might drop a few percentage in market share to the Amazon mp3 store but the Amazon store has no movie rentals or TV shows (the Unbox has both but no portable player).

The Amazon mp3 store affects Apple just as if you were to open a Best Buy across the street from an Apple store. The revenues would shift around a little but at the end of the day, Apple actually comes out ahead because all you’ve done is given the consumer another reason to buy an iPod.

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