Well, the bad news has hit us enthusiasts hoping for the next Killer Apple App yet again. Although disappointed, the eternal optimist in me leads me to believe this is a serious blockbuster product introduction on the scale of the iPhone, and Apple (AAPL) is being extremely cautious that they have the right suppliers, capable of producing the right technology, to meet and exceed their product and procurement/manufacturing expectations. So I'm viewing this delay very much as a positive - it's showing me Apple has something special, and they want it exactly right.
I'd first love to point out that there is a lot of negative scuttle out there regarding the Apple iSlate. Comments like, "What purpose will this product serve?", "No one else has ever had a killer app tablet product - What makes this any different?", etc etc. This is completely missing the point. Apple (as rumor has it - I have friends at Apple that won't even talk to me after a great bottle of scotch about iSlate, or whatever it will be!) is internally saying they are about to release a product with revolutionary technology - the only semi-official word I can get internally is "Apple is about to revolutionize wireless computing for the second time in less than three years."
Apple absolutely revolutionized the smartphone space with the iPhone, despite a lot of initial skepticism leading up to the launch, and any argument to the contrary is really wasted air. Android and the slew of handsets coming out to compete with the iPhone are just that - reactionary tactical maneuvers by Google (GOOG) and other smartphone manufacturers, understanding computing is getting smaller, slimmer, much more mobile, and data will be residing in The Cloud. Apple, based on the decade they have had and the amount of testing and innovation they are seemingly throwing into the iSlate tablet product, is indeed set to revolutionize mobile computing for the second time in less than three years, if what we are hearing is true.
Absolutely, this product could be a flop - I mean, nothing is impossible. But based on what I am hearing from inside, reading from great inside Apple reporters, and Apple's track record, which all reasonable investors can agree has been extraordinary over the past decade - I am doubling down that the Tablet product will be a the new Apple blockbuster.
It's not supposed to fit in your pocket or purse. I love my MacBook Air, but imagine the possibilities of a touchscreen with new gesture innovations, superior graphics, tactile feedback (I can't put my Google Documents or iWorks presentations together too well on my iPhone - it's actually my most-used device but it's too small for those duties, yet I would love if my MacBook Air had no keyboard, was slimmer, etc - perfect for someone very mobile like myself). The potential, again if Apple has the ability with their manufacturing partners to pull this off, are truly phenomenal.
Some important points:
- This of course won't be a product for everyone - it's not supposed to be, there is no such thing in this space - but my bet is it will have a much wider mass appeal than many of even the enthusiasts are expecting.
- Apple was just named "Brand of the Decade," Steve Jobs was "CEO of the Decade" - these are not your Father's Mac-Head conspiracy publications, these are publications like Fortune Magazine, Time and AdWeek. So to simply dismiss this effort by Apple as an over-hyped marketing-based product release with no probable intrinsic value is silly at best, very ignorant or just plain biased at worst - and an very unintelligent analysis for your investing moves. Apple's decade of success, and their recent extraordinary success in entering and revolutionizing the entire smartphone vertical, makes these comments just rubbish.
- Everything points to this Tablet product being strongly tied to the iPhone brand lineup - you know, the one that stems from the "Invention of the Decade," the iPod. Again, IF executed correctly, to come out of the gates with this type of brand family reliance, Apple's incredible brand recognition, proven marketing prowess...yes, indeed it could be the blockbuster I think it will be. I would absolutely LOVE to be Apple's ad agency (Chiat) this month if indeed we get the expected product release - this is one you dream for in the ad world.
- The recent reports of tying several different versions of OSX together (OSX Desktop, OSX Tablet, OSX Mobile, OSX Server) is something, as a technology marketing man for years, I have wanted to see since the iPhone launch. OSX is truly a fantastic operating system, and Apple has not done a fantastic job in tying this very strong operating system product together across all their outstanding devices.
- The recent news of streaming cable over Apple TV - could these content deals be extended to the iSlate Tablet and the iPhone? Apple has already proven to be extremely shrewd in their media dealings, and pulling a comprehensive content deal across multiple Apple products in a stream-less fashion would be a coup that would leave competitive products at a serious disadvantage, potentially taking years to catch up. Add the eBook functionality, and Apple has an opportunity to gain a stranglehold on content-over-IP in a very innovative fashion.
- I'm an Apple fan - been that way since I broke down and actually started using one back in 1996, by force of an employer. Since that time, I still use a Windows computer as well for testing and competitive comparison usage, and also possess the new Droid phone (again, as a technology fanatic, my iPhone is actually my most often used product in my life, but I am very impressed with a lot of what Android has to offer, and am currently a big user of many of Google's products - fantastic company). But I truly believe, all enthusiasm aside, the amount of time, testing, and what Apple can bring to the table with this product leaves redundant any argument of "another Tablet, and they all have been abject failures in the past." Think different on this one (pun intended) - the way iPhone completely changed the smartphone vertical, this iSlate Tablet product will have innovations we have not had a whiff of, and could be the killer technology app to start the new decade with.
- Let's get to investing strategy. Here is where I am soliciting feedback. I'm an aggressive investor by nature - so although I'm more-than-willing to double-down on this being a landmark product launch comparable to the iPhone or iPod, I am doing my due-diligence. That due-diligence, in this particular case, means to me how big a bet - as an industry vet I play my gut in the mobile/Interactive space, and my gut is saying to push the chips forward. However, I would LOVE to hear everyone's (well, everyone that just isn't just hating on Apple - real advice, positive, negative or neutral) thoughts on Apple's current stock price - is this launch built in? If so, 50%? 100% If we look at the competitive set, and IF this all goes to launch late January, this will be a dominant technology news story. Short term Q1 play? Would love to hear thoughts - I'm a technology veteran in Interactive and mobile since 1995, but I have never professed to being a world-class equities trader. Love some feedback!
Disclosure: No positions.