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techwonk
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. . . A little stingy with the "likes"? Yeah, me too. . . . Wonky (adj.): askew, awry, unsteady, off-kilter. Like gadgets or stock markets. Techwonk (me): someone who likes wonky stuff. . . disclosure: some posts may include input from other, uncredited sources (hi, uncle Fred) .
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  • What Apple Bought For 2 Cents Per Share

    Disclosure: I actively trade Apple directional options on earnings and news.

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    Links will follow in the comments section below this blog entry.

    "Quoth the Raven" is another Seeking Alpha member who was written on this acquisition and what application deveoment may result.

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    This weekend the acquisition by Apple of a tiny startup, WifiSlam, was noted by the financial press. WifiSlam specializes in a niche area of mobile computing that involves the use of wifi technology indoors to facilitate mobile maps and related applications.

    Although often described with reference to GPS, such systems are not truly Global Positioning Systems. They have a much narrower range, but still may piggyback onto the existing locational tools inside a mobile device.

    Apple reportedly paid $20 million to acquire the company. Apple has almost a billion shares outstanding, so the purchase cost debit to Apple's earnings is a little more than 2 cents - comfortably within affordable range for a corporation that last quarter earned $44 a share.

    So what's the technology worth in terms of future growth? That's going to be on the minds of investors. Apple is usually reticent to give a preview of its future plans, and it may take several months before the new technology is integrated with Apple's other initiatives.

    But we can make some guesses as to what Apple's choices and alternatives are, based on how similar technology is already used and what other firms are planning.

    An obvious answer is improving Apple maps. Imagine having a directory that shows "you are here" and moves as you move. Though existing wifi mapping systems are accurate to only about 6 feet, that is plenty close enough to put you within eyesight range of your car when you are lost in a large parking lot. Wifi antennas on lampposts could provide the directional signals; this kind of antenna is already in use in some civic local-area networks.

    Interactive applications for your mobile could be designed to allow you to ask "show me how to find it" questions, and then make location-related notes.

    Shopping malls, trade shows, conventions, swap meets, and large libraries are some of the environments which may find uses for indoor locator services.

    Beyond displaying information, there are merchandising possibilities, which could produce revenue for Apple or for app developers through fee-supported service structures.

    User tracking allows content to be delivered within small broadcast areas targeted to specific needs.

    Technologies already in use to track consumer behavior in stores include locator beacons, wifi network usage tools, and QR-codes that are photographed with smartphone camera. Even in-store video cameras are used for the purpose of tracking customer responses, and not just to deter shoplifting.

    Mapping could provide a way of representing all this information more efficiently.

    Retailer promotions that could be tied to mapping include mobile delivery of in-store shopper coupons, sale notifications, new product suggestions, and shopper reminders. Some stores already have these services available on their Wifi networks to customers who opt-in, but minus the mapping feature. Apple iPhone Passbook already provides GPS-based prompts when shoppers pass a store where they have a shopper's card.

    Inventory control using RFID -- radio frequency identification, such as barcode scanners -- along with wifi are already in use by stores. This has been focused so far on the employee side. As services for customers become more common, you may one day have a mobile app that allows you to check off items on your grocery list and then prompts you if you missed an item before you leave the aisle - no more wandering around the store.

    Shopper tracking could also allow stores to open additional cash registers when lines form, or receive prompts to restock. Disney already uses RFID bracelets for access to theme parks and crowd control.

    Disney's system also allows for personalization of services via data sharing over the wifi network, such as visitors being greeted by name by staffers.

    Beyond this, wifi mapping could one day be used to add mobile multimedia interaction for theme park customers. Similar uses could be developed for people attending a concert, visiting a museum, or at a variety of other events.

    Services for the "smart home" are also possible. Products are already on the market or in development that allow RFID tagging of packing boxes for residential moves, and "find my car keys" devices. Homes with wifi hotspots could eventually tie services like these to a map of the residence.

    "Smart devices" like wifi-enabled thermostats and outdoor lighting already exist. iPhone applications have been available since 2010 for interacting with home controls hardware manufactured by Lutron and other companies. Mobile mapping applications could make these easier to use, and speed the development of what has been called "the Internet of things".

    None of these items are beyond the capacity of the present technology. As developers stretch further, they will doubtless come up with uses that are more surprising and unexpected.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in AAPL over the next 72 hours.

    Tags: AAPL, wifi
    Mar 25 6:57 PM | Link | 3 Comments
  • Top Ranked Utilities Funds

    Zacks ranks these utilities funds #1 in a March 14, 2013 news release.

    Fidelity FSUTX, Henessey GASFX, American Century BULIX, Gabelli GABUX, Vanguard VUIAX.

    Zacks rating as of October 29, 2012 on utility ETFs gives #1 to Vanguard VPU and iShares IDU.

    State Street has a utility ETF based on the S&P 500 utility sector index. This 'SPDR' is XLU.

    Watch the portfolios. Some utility funds hold telecoms also, which can alter the returns and volatility. The company offering the fund will have a list of portfolio holdings in their disclosure to investors.

    The advantages of ETFs are that they trade in the market. Investors can set a stop loss trigger and be out of the position if the market declines. Investors can also position size at their discretion.

    The advantages of a mutual fund are the ability to dollar cost average, use direct deposit, and avoid brokerage fees. Disadvantage is that position size is set by the fund. Fidelity requires a minimum $2500 to open and maintain. The Vanguard Admiral series requires $100,000 to open. Minimums for IRAs and direct deposit recurring contributions are often less, so be aware there is more than one way to open an account.

    A mutual fund long position with an ETF "long put" option is one way to hedge potential declines in the fund. Investors should be sure they understand options thoroughly before using this strategy.

    Zacks is a reputable firm, as are all of the firms offering these products. However this does not guarantee they are right for you. Please consult your professional investment advisor to determine your own needs before acting on any investment news.

    Links to articles are in the Comment following the article.

    Let me know if you have trouble accessing these links.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Tags: Utilities
    Mar 22 6:53 PM | Link | 1 Comment
  • The "Hello World" Post

    At last, my first Instablog post.

    Aiyiyi, the second one published before the first. Ironically, I'm having some wonky moments getting the blog set up.

    My profile page image refused to upload to SA; I kept getting "not a valid file" error messages. Uploading to other sites was not causing any problems.

    So after a long reductive process testing file sizes and types the solution turned out to be moving the file path. SA's file manager seems to have trouble seeing the "my images folder", which also has a image editor (convenient, except in this case). The workaround was to source from a lower directory.

    Now if I could just get cut-and-paste to work. ;-) Ah, the joys of going mobile...it's like going back to kindergarten and learning computing all over again.

    Memo to self - and other newbies - when finished with the blog post, wait a few seconds for the preview to come up. Then publish using "submit instablog" at the bottom of the page, not the publish arrow at the top, which seems to only be a tracking feature and not a functional button.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Tags: blogging
    Mar 18 10:28 PM | Link | Comment!
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