Seeking Alpha

Dialectical Materialist

Dialectical Materialist
Send Message
View as an RSS Feed
View Dialectical Materialist's Comments BY TICKER:
Latest comments  |  Highest rated
  • Analysts Are Bearish On Apple - Should We Be Bearish Too? [View article]
    stevewojo, Agreed. Or as Buffett said, "Calling a day trader an investor is like calling a one night stand a relationship".
    Oct 9, 2015. 09:20 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Apple Still Leads In Mobile Devices Over Microsoft And Google [View article]
    Right Pimust. The iPhone shows us that 17% = 92% profit share. Not 100%.
    Oct 9, 2015. 07:37 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Netflix hiking prices by $1/month; shares +3.1% [View news story]
    That's a raunchy straight line, isn't it?
    Oct 8, 2015. 05:03 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple TV: The Amazon Ban Won't Hurt A Bit [View article]
    pk, I also come up empty, but I do see lots of articles about using Airplay to watch Amazon video on your Apple TV (which you have been able to do for a couple years). I have watched Amazon video on Apple TV using this method (usually as a last resort when the content isn't available or is too expensive elsewhere), but I don't ever remember an app directly on the Apple TV.

    Airplay support for Amazon Video was something that was added by Amazon, btw, not Apple. Not everything that happens to apps is under Apple's control. Features and availability are often the choice of the app maker.
    Oct 7, 2015. 11:15 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • You Missed The Boat On Netflix [View article]
    "Netflix doesn't need to license everything. All Netflix really needs to do is provide 2 hours of acceptable entertainment per night to subscribers who are looking for 2 hours to fill."

    I think that is a really good point. It's a bit like a restaurant. As long as you can find something you want to eat on the menu, do you really spend too much time thinking about all the things you might have wanted but that weren't available? Sure, sometimes you have a craving for a specific thing, but often you just want to watch some television or eat a meal. Netflix does not have to have "all the content" to satisfy most of its customers most of the time.
    Oct 6, 2015. 05:50 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: How About An iPad Upgrade Program? [View article]
    "questionable that they can be sold at profitable prices because Verizon and Sprint will be selling used iPhones in competition with Apple because of their leasing plans."

    Don't you think most of Apple's second hand phones will be headed to markets in other countries, like India? I do.
    Oct 4, 2015. 08:14 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: iPhone 6s Orders Are Likely To Be Tracking Below Last Year [View article]
    Gregg, That is indeed impressive. It is one of those ideas that sounds kind of obvious after the fact, like many great ideas do. King-Man+Woman arrives at a place close to Queen. Pretty clever indeed.

    They seem to be using it for language translation, but it sounds to me like it could have exciting possibilities for machine learning as well. With a language space mapped in memory, an AI could hear the words "Queen Elizabeth" and use vector analysis to surmise this is an English name and a word that suggests female ruler.

    Without ever coming across the exact name before, and without doing an encyclopedic style "lookup", it could already "surmise" that this phrase refers to a Ruler in an English speaking country.

    If you hear the name King Jose' you may not have a clue who this refers to, but you would get the general idea this may be a Spanish ruler. You also know that the title "King" is sometimes symbolic, so you may guess that this is a person of some renown or level of accomplishment who is ethnically Hispanic. So starting from zero, with no encyclopedic lookup, you get something from the meaning of the words.

    Giving a computer a similar method for tying concepts together using a vector map seems very interesting. In this sense it would not be used for translating from one language to another but from certain "known" words in a language to other new words or phrases in order to give them context.
    Oct 3, 2015. 08:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: iPhone 6s Orders Are Likely To Be Tracking Below Last Year [View article]
    I certainly agree the progress is astounding.

    It will be interesting to see how well humans can keep up with the accelerating pace of technology and the social transformations it causes. 100 years ago each generation had time to digest the new paradigms, and even that pace caused "generation gaps". Now we are seeing social structures evolve much more quickly. Today's kids don't understand what it was like not to be globally connected 24/7 through a mobile device, which was the way all previous generations of humanity existed. Yet even they may have trouble keeping up in the world their children will live in. Machines can adapt very rapidly. Humans maybe not so much.

    And I don't mean to ignore the story you linked to. I'll have to check it out when I have time to sit down.
    Oct 3, 2015. 04:15 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: 13 Million iPhone Sales In Launch Weekend Is Nothing To Fear [View article]
    There is also the problem of being "off topic", which I certainly do not want to run afoul of, but you bring up an interesting point. The "blanket dismissal" violation is a tricky beast.

    Faced with an argument by someone that he wears a tin foil hat to shield himself from the government mind reading rays, you can not call that person crazy (that would be an attack, which is a violation). And you can't say that you simply won't take anyone from the tin foil hat crowd seriously (that is a blanket dismissal). So you are left with trying to argue that aluminum foil has not been scientifically proven to block mind reading rays, which puts you in a rather absurd position.

    The problem is that once you have weighed the argument that another SA commenter or author puts forward, sometimes the blanket dismissal is actually called for. SA may want to promote debate, but it ends up fostering the growth of truly absurd propositions which have no basis in reality.

    Take Michael Blair for example. His arguments over the past three years have been consistently wrong and wrong for the same reason. He does not understand Apple's customers. He keeps expecting them to exhibit behavior that they will not exhibit because they are not built the way he imagines. He is studying a bear and predicting when it will lay an egg. And yet to claim that he just does not get it is a blanket dismissal. So one is left with the repeatedly absurd exercise of pointing out all the ways that the creature he is describing is actually a bear, and he should not hold out hope of ever making that omelet.
    Oct 3, 2015. 12:28 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: iPhone 6s Orders Are Likely To Be Tracking Below Last Year [View article]
    Paulo, I agree that a big risk (in my opinion the biggest risk) to iPhone sales is the "good enough" factor. I am old enough to remember the days when you had to upgrade your desktop computer every couple years because if you didn't you were essentially crippled. The new machines were just too much of a leap forward to ignore. But now, sure they're faster, but good enough is good enough, right?

    Except we also need to realize that the same pace of progress that made new desktops a yawner brought us the mobile revolution. We don't need to upgrade our desktops as much because that scene is played out, but ever more powerful chips gave us a new gadget to upgrade -- the smartphone.

    So we need to project out a bit into a world where phones are so sophisticated that upgrading is not so compelling (and even cheap-o phones are comparatively amazing). What does that world look like? Will ever smaller and more powerful chips be used in news ways beyond smartphones? Of course they will. And the obvious next campaign in the silicon revolution is wearable computing.

    So Apple need not persistently make an iPhone that has a compelling upgrade case any more than it needed to do that with the iPod. It needs to simply field a team in the next arena. Right about the time smartphones are so amazing that they are yawn worthy, the new compelling annual upgrades will be in wearable devices. And like personal computers and smartphones before them, they'll go through the life cycle from gee-whiz products, to useful, to essential and finally to mundane.

    It may very well be that only the best of the best smartphones will play well with all the wearables that we will use in the future. If that is the case, then the use case for the latest iPhone is baked in. But if it is not -- if the "good enough" moment arrives. All Apple will need to do is ensure they are making compelling and increasingly enticing wearables.

    Right now, Apple relies on iPhone sales. But that's fine, because consumers clearly find iPhones desirable compared to many less expensive models. But Apple is making the right moves to compete in the next compelling category. Since the invention of the micro-chip there has always been SOMETHING that had a compelling upgrade case.
    Oct 3, 2015. 02:36 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: iPhone 6s Orders Are Likely To Be Tracking Below Last Year [View article]

    I appreciate your understanding of this issue and I am a bit jealous of your professional involvement in this field. I have always found it interesting, but from a layman's perspective.

    But even as a layman I see a competitive problem with trying to assert dominance in machine learning. The very nature of a pseudo cognitive system folding back on itself is not unlike the story of processor upgrades in the 20th century. That is, there is a kind of Moore's Law that applies to machine learning. As a machine learns how to learn, it uses that learning to improve its learning. And so we witness exponential progress.

    To be the leader in such a field, let alone to lap it, is a bit of an illusion. Consider this example using processing power.

    A team of MIT scientists in 1982 using all their smarts and cunning could tie a bunch of computers together to calculate digits of PI. And little ole me could write a computer program on a laptop in 1997 that would have smoked them. A single PC processor was too mighty for a team of outdated engineers.

    Oh but what if a team of engineers repeated the experiment in 1997? Well, wait a few short years and a simple desktop could still outrun them. That's the power of processor doubling.

    Similarly, when machine learning reaches a sufficiently powerful recursiveness, the progress that will be achieved in one year will outdo all the years before it added together. So you could say Google dominates in, say 2020. But by 2024 (for example) even a generic machine learning system will have caught up to that previously astounding degree of learning capacity.

    By then, of course, Google would be even further along, but like the digits of PI it is kind of an illusion.

    One last example to illustrate the issue. You and I are going to double a penny every day. As you know, we will both be very rich very soon. But I am going to give you a two day headstart. You will always be richer than me. By day four you will have 8 cents and I will have just 2.

    By the end of day 60, you will have $5.7 quadrillion. I will have "only" $1.4 quadrillion. At some point, even though you never surrender your lead -- in fact it only grows -- the distinction becomes meaningless.

    And so it goes with machine learning. I would argue that once a sufficient level of machine learning is applied recursively back on itself, the speed of progress that results makes the distinction of who is the "leader" meaningless.

    So Google may be the first to close the feedback loop, but as soon as any competitor replicates the accomplishment, they are all effectively tied with one another in an unfathomably rapid course of progress.
    Oct 3, 2015. 01:54 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Sold 13 Million iPhones On Launch Weekend - That Should Frighten Investors [View article]
    Retired One,

    Apple can (and does) buy back its shares in two ways. It can purchase them on the open market, or it can initiate an accelerated share repurchase.

    In an ASR Apple buys back a block of shares from the investment bank and it is up to them to re-buy the shares they sold to Apple. Importantly, the blackout periods you refer to do not apply to these banks. What's more, if these institutions believe an upcoming event (like an earnings report) may put upward pressure on the share price, they will be very motivated buyers in the days before the event.
    Oct 2, 2015. 09:53 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Is Building Its Largest Startup Ever [View article]
    Windy Hill, I think you pretty well sum it up except I also think people are neglecting one more use for driverless cars:

    Everyone imagines themselves riding in one. But there will be many times we don't need to be involved at all. Driverless cars can also be delivery drones. Pizza and other things ordered online might soon arrive in cars that have no driver and carry no passengers. Heck, you could even have a friend send over the laptop that you left at work or at his place. He'll just speak into his watch or phone, order up a car, put your laptop into it, and tell the car to take it to your address.

    Driverless cars will be great for hauling us around, but they will also be great for hauling deliveries. And of course driverless trucks will haul freight 24/7. There is a potential here to reduce a great deal of friction in our economy.

    Truck drivers are going to become as rare as farriers (folks who shoe horses) and for the same reason.
    Oct 2, 2015. 09:36 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Is Building Its Largest Startup Ever [View article]
    "No I do NOT think the iPad WAS a failure but what I said was:"

    I was referring to your taking issue with my comment about the author who we never hear from any more who predicted the iPad was failing. Clearly he was wrong. And this is a common refrain with Apple. They introduce something new. Some people claim there is no need for it and it will flop. Then these folks ascribe early sales to hard core enthusiasts ("fanboys") then these critics either disappear or move on to predicting failure for the next new Apple product.

    But don't take my word for it. Perhaps you've already seen this awesome collection of fail quotes at Claim Chowder:

    Some of my favorites:

    The big competitors in the mobile-phone industry such as Nokia Oyj and Motorola Inc. won’t be whispering nervously into their clamshells over a new threat to their business. The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. ~ Matthew Lynn, Bloomberg, 15 January 2007

    I’m more convinced than ever that, after an initial frenzy of publicity and sales to early adopters, iPhone sales will be unspectacular… iPhone may well become Apple’s next Newton. ~ David Haskin, Computerworld, 26 February 2007

    But there are too many to list here. The pattern is clear. Apple "failed" with the iPod, then "failed" with the iPhone, then "failed" with the iPad, and now, despite this history, you seem comfortable claiming the Apple Watch is a failure.

    Any guesses how this turns out? I have one:

    The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. ~ Robert Benchley
    Oct 2, 2015. 10:51 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Is Building Its Largest Startup Ever [View article]
    Glen, Google "moon landing faked" and you get back a ton of links too. Should we take that notion seriously as well?
    Oct 1, 2015. 04:35 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment