The Apple Event–Was It Good Enough?–Futurum Tech Podcast
On this edition of the Futurum Tech Podcast, we cover the September 10th Apple Event, the IBM z15 launch, France’s major thumbs down for Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, how Qualcomm and Ericsson are preparing for 5G commercialization. All that and more on this edition of FTP.
Our Main Dive
This episode covered many topics. We started with the Apple Event. It was a good launch, but it simply wasn’t good enough for Apple. The Watch was the best in show and sadly over the past couple of years the Airpods and Watches have been more exciting than the iPhones, iPads and Macbooks. The company is clearly moving toward more recurring subscription revenue, and that will be good for the bottom line, but are the true gamers going to get all that jazzed about Arcade?
Related mention: Daniel covered this in his MarketWatch column, comparing Apple’s track record in recent years as it relates to innovation to Microsoft.
Our Fast Five
We dig into this week’s interesting and noteworthy news:
- Facebook Libra is a no-go in France
- IBM launches z15, taking resilience and recovery to the next level in hybrid, multi-cloud environments
- The Daqri Story – Another heavily-funded AR startup courting the enterprise shuts down
- Apple Uses App Store to Steal Best Ideas
- Qualcomm and Ericsson Prepare Next-Phase 5G Commercialization
The WeWork IPO and investor concerns.
Crystal Ball: Future-um Predictions and Guesses
Apple-related question that we’ll rely on Olivier to lob.
Olivier Blanchard: Welcome to this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m Olivier Blanchard, Senior Analyst with Futurum Research and joining me today are Shelly Kramer and Ron Westfall. And we’re going to start today’s show with a discussion about Apple’s big September 10th events and all of its cool announcements, and then some of the not so cool ones, then we’ll share some of our favorite tech news stories of the week in our fast five segment, followed by Tech Bites in which we highlight one of the biggest tech-related fails of the week, and we will end the show as always with our Crystal Ball.
But before we begin, it goes without saying that this show is intended for informational purposes only and no advice or insights provided here, no matter how good they sound today, should be taken as investment advice. Okay. So with that out of the way, let’s begin. So first of all, Shelly, Ron, welcome. I hope you guys had a good last few days. I know we’ve been busy at Futurum putting together a bunch of reports and launching your research, so that’s really exciting. But Shelly, has your week been okay? I mean, has everything worked out pretty well?
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. Nothing’s blown up so far, so I’m counting that in the positive column.
Olivier Blanchard: All right, good. How about you Ron? Everything good?
Ron Westfall: Oh, sure. In fact, it’s good to see just the vast myriad of announcements that came out this week. It’s certainly a testament just to how much is going on in our industry and many of it is exciting.
Olivier Blanchard: Yes, it is. So without further ado, let’s start covering that. So Apple had their big September events earlier this week, and one of the big things was iPhone, but there were other announcements about different products and new cool things coming out. I just wanted to, like without injecting my own bias and opinions into this, right off the bat I’m going to start with Shelly. Shelly, what were the things that Apple got right this week, and then we’ll switch and we’ll talk about what Apple got wrong. But let’s start with both of you, Shelly first, with what you thought they did right.
Shelly Kramer: Well, I think that the changes to the Apple Watch were significant. I’m an Apple Watch wearer, and so I think these improvements are good and I think that really, we know that that’s where Apple is going to see growth in wearables, whether it’s AirPods or watches, so I think that that’s something that I pay attention to. And I’m also very interested in seeing what Apple’s doing as it relates to health and research and partnering on research. I’m actually getting ready to do a deeper dive and write about that, but I think that’s smart, I think it’s information that people want, and I think that that is something that really wasn’t huge news that came out of the Apple event, but I think it’s going to be interesting to watch what Apple does with health and research partnerships moving forward.
Olivier Blanchard: Cool. Okay. How about you Ron? What did you think they got right this week?
Ron Westfall: Yeah, it was showing the industry that they’re shifting steadily more to a services revenue stream and model, for example, rolling out the Apple TV Plus service with only a $4.99 per month price tag that will, again, help spread Apple’s influence not just within the Apple ecosystem but beyond. And in combination with that, the Apple Arcade unveiling shows that Apple now have a direct hand in the gaming industry, so at least they have table stakes now and are showing that they are committed to doing just that, getting more services revenues to match their already well established hardware and software revenues.
Shelly Kramer: You know, if I could interject on that point, obviously Apple’s making a shift to services, but from a personal standpoint, I’m not really interested. I’m not interested in paying for Apple News subscriptions, I really don’t need that. I already know how to get the news that I want and I play stupid games, not a ton of them, not like a gamer, but the ones that I like I’ve already downloaded and pay for or not, and so that doesn’t really have a lure for me. So I feel like Apple TV, I’ve moved way beyond Apple TV with other devices that work. I mean, I have Netflix, I have Fire TV, I also have an Apple TV box somewhere, but really, why do I need it? I have these other things. Why would I add another subscription? So I think that the pivot to subscription services is important, but I just wonder in some respects how many people are really going to be interested in those?
Olivier Blanchard: Well before we go full board to what Apple missed this week, which I think is, I tend to agree with you, let’s just kind of focus on this Apple TV thing because, and let me interject something that I’ve seen shared in some of my social feeds that I completely agree with, and it’s with regard to the subscription and the programming, the $4.99 a month subscription to their streaming service. I don’t see a lineup yet. I know that Apple is going to produce shows and movies and there’s going to be plenty of content, but when you look at what Disney Plus is coming out with, with a very similar price package, the fact that Apple is coming out with a $4.99 price plan for what is essentially right now two shows, it’s nothing. What are you getting for $4.99? They haven’t really shown us that they’re capable of putting anything together. There’s no real package yet.
So if I’m looking at where I’m going to spend my money, I have Netflix, I have Hulu, Disney Plus is definitely going to get my money, I don’t see why I need Apple, and Apple hasn’t really convinced me that I need any other programming. And so I think they were a little bit premature in announcing this. Even though the price is great, $4.99 for nothing isn’t really a great sales pitch in my opinion. How do you feel about that, Ron?
Ron Westfall: Well that was exactly my sentiments. First, here are the positives, now what are the concerns, and I think that definitely captures the problem. It’s a saturated market segment and Apple’s really not offering anything really novel or distinct. And it’s the same issue with the Apple Arcade. As we know, if you’re a hardcore gamer, you already are invested in the best platforms to enable the real-time cutting edge capabilities. And if you’re a casual gamer, you’re not going to necessarily want to buy Apple capabilities to download free apps that allow you to game, on just that basis, casually. So yes, Apple definitely has a great deal to prove in terms of are these new subscription services compelling even if they are less expensive or simply have the Apple name attached to it.
Olivier Blanchard: And just as an aside, to me the Apple brand, which is for everything else kind of a premium brand, for Apple to lead with low pricing and very little execution, seems completely upside down for the brand. And so let me transition real quick and I’ll jump to Shelly next with the kind of the elephant in the room. Nobody yet, since this segment has started nearly seven minutes ago, has even mentioned the iPhone. Even though this traditionally historically is the big iPhone release or reveal, and usually that’s all people want to talk about is all the new features on the new iPhones and how cool it is. So far, neither one of you have even mentioned iPhone.
And so since we’re talking about the misses, I didn’t see any wins with the iPhone. The cameras look nice, they’re big so you can make fun of them because they kind of look strange. I think the cameras are actually a good addition and obviously Apple does really well with CPU and GPU releases and they’re increasingly strong with that. But everything else, the features to me seems, again, iterative. It’s the same stuff that Android devices have already had in the market for one, sometimes two years. It’s only now finally getting to Apple. So there’s not a lot of innovation there.
But specifically what drew my attention to just how weak this release was, Apple is released, it’s still a 4G company, when everything else, all their competitors, have already moved and are already releasing 5G phones, Apple is still stuck in the 4G era, number one.
And two, even with its Pro version of the iPhone, and I’m not exactly sure why they call it a Pro other than it has a different paint job, doesn’t come with a USBC port, still. And whether Apple wants to hold off on putting USBC on all of its iPhones, it should have at least, on the Pro models, made that switch because that seems to make sense. So Shelly, you first and then Ron, you next. Do you agree or disagree with what I just said and do you have anything to add about this latest iPhone release?
Shelly Kramer: You know, I’m with you. I have the 10 and my phone is my handheld computing device. The fact that it can take pictures is great, but that’s not why I buy it, and I can’t imagine having a need for, based on the thousand dollars or whatever it was I paid for this phone, I don’t need to replace it. Why would I replace it now with 5G right around the corner? I can’t imagine anybody really rushing out to buy this new phone. Doesn’t make any sense. And I’m totally with you on the connection. It doesn’t make any sense.
Ron Westfall: On the iPhone, we were waiting for your thunder Olivier, here’s your opportunity to continue teeing up, and yeah, I think the biggest problem for Apple is consumer apathy. I agree with both of you. That’s not capturing the imagination, there’s no clear differentiation, and as a result this will probably result in less than stellar holiday revenues, and the Apple universe will have to wait around for the Apple 12 and 5G capabilities before the iPhone once again becomes a compelling product in the vast sea of smartphone alternatives.
And in addition, let’s not forget the new iPad. Yes, it’s still a market leader and it does have some capabilities that make it more similar to say the Microsoft Surface product, which is prominently featured on NFL broadcast games now, by the way, but still it’s the same issue with the iPhone. There’s nothing new here that makes it more compelling than other notebooks in the market that have advanced touch capabilities and actual desktop usability and so forth. And so the iPad is kind of like stuck in this niche and so we’ll have to again wait for a new firing up of the iPad portfolio to really make people want to get up and check it out.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, absolutely. Speaking of the iPad, the iPad has a USBC port, right? I don’t have the new one, but I think Apple has already switched the USBC for its Macbooks and for the iPads I believe. But for some reason it didn’t do it with the iPhones this year. I don’t really understand the inconsistency there. You would think that the entire ecosystem would kind of have some consistency when it comes to the generations that are happening at the same time or being released at the same time.
I do, before we move on, want to make one quick point, kind of like a counterpoint or play devil’s advocate about the 5G thing with the iPhone. And to recap, the reason that Apple doesn’t have the ability to release a 5G iPhone this year is because by the time they switched suppliers for their modems and had already started building their phones, they switched from Intel which wasn’t able to provide a high enough and provable enough quality 5G modem for the iPhones, and Apple switched to Qualcomm, but I think that happened around April and by that point it was too late to completely start over and build a new platform for the iPhone, which is why Apple missed the 5G train this year.
So now that that Qualcomm has been signed on as a supplier, and Apple has become a licensee of Qualcomm technologies, we’re pretty much guaranteed to see a 5G phone next year. So it wasn’t really a decision by Apple to stay out of 5G, it was just kind of an operational hurdle that they couldn’t overcome. But one of the big counterpoints about this, from hardcore Apple fans who absolutely have no problem spending $1,100 on a 4G phone when everybody else in the entire industry is shifting to 5G, is that well, 5G deployments are still not really out there, I don’t see any 5G in my area, why should I care about 5G now? I’ll care about it five years from now. And the reality of that is that to some extent that’s not completely untrue. 5G deployments are very early, 5G service is spotty, it hasn’t launched in a lot of areas.
The thing is the deployments are moving very quickly and they just started this year. Today is not a year from now and actually today is not even six months from now. And for someone to buy a new phone now that’s going to be a 4G phone, that’s not going to be upgradable to 5G no matter how many software releases Apple puts out there, if you don’t have a 5G modem in your phone it’s not going to be 5G compatible. It doesn’t make sense to spend that much money on a phone that you are going to have to replace next year.
And so my advice to people who are on the fence and who don’t exactly know what to do and who aren’t sure whether 5G even matters 12 months from now, is you might want to hold off on spending a lot of money in a 4G phone. If you absolutely must replace your phone now because the battery is dying and the screen is cracked and it’s just too old and you want to do something and you want to stay in the Apple ecosystem, I would recommend that you buy a cheaper 4G iPhone for a year and then resell it or keep it as a backup or something, but wait until next year when iPhone releases a true 5G phone to really upgrade to a premium iPhone. Or, if you want 5G now, you can go ahead and leave the Apple ecosystem altogether and you’ll be very happy with Android.
So that’s my little advice and we’ll close the segments on that. But we definitely need to have a bigger discussion about what 5G is and 5G isn’t because a lot of discussions I’ve had online this week specifically because of the iPhone, have flipped on a light bulb for me that most people have no idea what’s going on with 5G, what the difference between sub-6 and millimeter wave is, that 5G isn’t just one thing, and I think at some point maybe we can use the podcast to bring more clarity and have maybe a Q&A or frequently asked questions segments about what 5G is and why it matters already now. We’re moving onto our fast five and I’m going to start with Ron this time. So Ron, what tech news story caught your eye first this week?
Ron Westfall: Well since we’re on the topic of 5G and Qualcomm, the supplier of 5G modems to many of the smart phone players out there, it is notable that they conducted a test with Ericsson confirming that their Snapdragon X55 Modem-RF System is ready for standalone implementations. And why that’s important is that, as we know, the initial deployments of 5G whether in South Korea and as they are gaining momentum in places like China, is that they required a non-standalone implementation or NSA and what that is the operator using their existing 4G network and then essentially blending in the 5G capabilities and having to operate a 4G/5G network. And that is critical certainly for the initial stage of deploying 5G.
But as you can see, it does introduce complexities in management. You’re having to account for both the 4G components and the 5G components and so forth. And so what the operators are shooting for are standalone or SA modes of operation where the 5G network really becomes independent and doesn’t have all these additional requirements for backward compatibility and so forth. And so this is good news. It’s showing that Qualcomm and Erickson at least are really driving this forward, enabling the capabilities that the operators absolutely need if they really want to start scaling the new applications that are 5G based like industrial IoT connectivity and enterprise grade cloud services and so forth. So that’s my first one.
Olivier Blanchard: Okay. Excellent. Shelly, what is yours?
Shelly Kramer: Well, the news that caught my attention this week was related to Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency and the fact that the French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire announced this week that the Facebook Libra crypto couldn’t operate or be developed in Europe due to what he calls … Well, he’s concerned about current market conditions and they’re concerned in general about competition and limiting competition. And I thought it was interesting because I think Facebook tends to charge ahead in all areas, which is fine, but as it relates to cryptocurrency, that’s kind of a big pond to play in. And I realized there’s tremendous upside and part of the reason that a cryptocurrency like what they want Libra to do is important, is because there are so many unbanked people in the world, especially in developing countries.
And what that means, unbanked, is that there are people who are not using traditional banking systems. Sometimes they don’t exist, sometimes they’re just old school ways of working and getting paid and paying living expenses and they’re not using bank accounts, and so the opportunity here for Facebook is using Facebook, specifically in this case I think Facebook is interested in using WhatsApp and targeting some of those 400 million WhatsApp users, by the way Facebook owns WhatsApp, and getting them using Libra’s cryptocurrency.
As you might imagine, there is tremendous financial upside in there for Facebook. And all of a sudden France in particular is saying, “Wait a minute, this is a big deal. We’re not interested in letting Facebook go full steam ahead here.” Facebook has talked about a launch in early 2020 which is really soon, and so I think that France in general and perhaps what we’ll see in the EU in particular, are kind of putting some more breaks on that and saying, “Hey, wait a minute, we’re not fully onboard here, and there are a lot more conversations that need to happen before you move forward full steam ahead.”
Olivier Blanchard: Excellent. Yeah, Bruno Le Maire is typically French in that on the one hand, everything must be regulated, for better or for worse, especially when it comes to finance. But what I see also is there’s an Africa piece to this puzzle where these types of … kind of like the unbanked industry and the experimentation that’s happening from the tech world in terms of bringing payment solutions, especially mobile payment solutions, to areas of the world like Africa, is huge. That’s basically where the laboratory is. And France, being a former colonial power that never really left any of its colonies, still has a lot of interests, strategic interests, in Africa. And I think that although France hasn’t really come up with any solutions to this problem in the African continent, I think it’s feeling a little threatened by the fact that Facebook is kind of stepping in in an area that France considers under its kind of auspices or auspice adjacents. But anyway, that’s-
Shelly Kramer: That makes perfect sense.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, yeah. It’s something we should probably focus on because there’s some really interesting innovation going on, on that front, specifically in Africa. We always talk about Europe and the US, but I think we could probably do a whole show that focuses on that. Okay. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to add like 20 minutes to our fast five segments-
Shelly Kramer: That’s okay.
Olivier Blanchard: … which is supposed to be two minutes per story. We’ll get there eventually. My story, or the one that caught my eye, was a little bit off the beaten path. It’s another major AR company basically announcing that it’s calling it quits, and it’s Daqri. It was one of the best funded AR development companies, they’ve been around for about 10 years, but basically what’s happening, and I think this is why I picked the story and why I think it’s bigger than just Daqri, is that companies like this, that are very innovative, that are kind of pushing the limits of design and performance for AR goggles and especially enterprise type AR goggles for manufacturing, logistics, et cetera, are progressively being pushed out.
No matter how much funding they’ve received, no matter how successful they’ve been, they’re unable to compete against bigger companies with bigger name recognition like Magic Leap, Microsoft, and potentially Apple in the near future, and the notion that if they weren’t able to capture the true enterprise market that was kind of being captured by these bigger name companies, that there was this long tail of small and medium size manufacturing organizations that might be interested in this and that they could actually scale their market as opposed to getting these one or two really big hits.
And that’s really not happening. And so as a result what we’re seeing is a consolidation of the AR market, I think, around very big tech companies with these specialized AR firms either going out of business or being absorbed piece by piece by bigger companies like Microsoft or Google and whoever. So that’s something to keep an eye on because that is something that’s changing with AR. Even though AR is actually a really successful and very high growth with very high potential category of technology and market, we’re seeing failures like this that indicate there’s not going to be a lot of variety in the AR market anytime soon. Okay. So back to Ron, I think.
Ron Westfall: And yes, IBM mainframes are in the news and yes, this is actually a watershed announcement. IBM this week unveiled its z15 platform. It’s the latest offering of its mainframe portfolio and it also includes some breakthrough innovations that can make a difference for certainly the Z system’s mainframe customer base out there. A little background, IBM mainframes play a critical role in the digital ecosystem. For example, 87% of all credit card transactions are processed over IBM mainframes. And what they’re doing with the z15 is introducing new capabilities like data privacy passports, which in essence protect and enforce data rules not only within the Z system environment, but also off of it. So in other words, clients can be assured that when they share their data with a partner, with a third party, that will remain encrypted and protected throughout its entire journey and that it’s all audited and accounted for.
And this is in contrast to how other workloads are handled within multi-cloud environments such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and so forth. And Capital One can attest to some of the pitfalls with that approach. It doesn’t really have that end-to-end security assurances for data that this new IBM data privacy passport can deliver. So this will shake up the market some. It will certainly give enterprises more consideration of, “Okay, how can I better leverage not only my z15 platform and existing C products, but also should I start actually onboarding on to z15 or expand its use.” In addition, IBM is also delivering instant recovery capabilities to certainly better enable the planning of downtime, let alone unplanned downtime, in essence to almost eliminate any downtime disruption and obviously that’s critical within all of these enterprises such as financial services and so forth.
And finally, putting more emphasis on cloud data development of the applications that are run on the Z system environment, but are also implemented with the multi cloud environments, hybrid cloud environments, which are pretty much the reality today. Every major enterprise out there needs to have a successful hybrid multi cloud strategy in order to, quite simply, compete. And so yes, IBM, back in the news in terms of the z15 announcement and yes, the mainframe is here and it will be around for a while. It’s been around since the 1960s and this is certainly testament to its staying power.
Olivier Blanchard: Outstanding. I even like the name z15. It’s kind of cool.
Ron Westfall: It is catchy.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, nerdy but cool. Okay, Shelly, close us out. What’s the fifth and final fast five story for this week?
Shelly Kramer: You know, that’s who we are, Olivier. Nerdy but cool people.
Olivier Blanchard: That’s right.
Shelly Kramer: At least that’s what we like to tell ourselves. So I’m going to talk about something much less complex than what Ron tackled and my topic is the allegation that Apple uses its App Store to copy the best ideas. And I saw this in the headlines in the last week and my immediate thought was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” And by the way, this is not an Apple fan girl. This is a business strategist and probably the most pragmatic person you’ll find. But I read the headline, I knew without reading the article at all, really what the claim was. I started thinking about Amazon and the fact that when you’re in the Amazon ecosystem, I can promise you, no matter what your product is, Amazon has access to every scintilla of data about that product and is sitting right there already copying the very best ideas.
Back in the day, not so long ago before the internet became a thing, we had Walmart. I remember working with clients to get their products into the Walmart ecosystem, which was a little bit like pulling teeth. Actually, it was a lot like pulling teeth. But we knew when you had a product that was going into Amazon, that if you were lucky, you had a year, because what Walmart was going to do was to look at your product and see how it moved and see how customers embraced it and go off and copy it. And pretty soon there’d be a copycat right there in Walmart and your product may or may not continue to have a life there.
When you put your product into an ecosystem like the App Store or into Amazon or even into Walmart, you do so and you kind of give up access to some of that data and some of the things that happen there. And I think that for companies, and this is kind of like to your point with your topic, Olivier, about Daqri. Technology is happening, evolution is happening at such a rapid pace, when Apple sees something or when Amazon sees something that says, “Hey we should integrate this.” When Twitter sees something, how many companies built something off of the Twitter ecosystem to survive in there that Twitter hoovered up and used? So I think that’s a reality of the world today. I don’t know that we can say that that’s anti-competitive environment, but I did think it was interesting and worth talking about mentioning.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, definitely. Like you said, it’s something that’s been going on for a while. I go after Apple for a number of reasons, but they have to be legitimate though. And in this particular case, I think it’s also an overreach. It’s just the reality of these major platform businesses now. If you have a gizmo to sell, somebody’s going to take that gizmo and make it cheaper and probably scaled better than you can. And if it’s not a physical product, if it’s software, you better get that patented and start licensing it because that’s where your real money is going to be. Don’t make this stuff yourself. Just license the technology, license your IP.
So that is it for our fast five, now let’s move to our tech bites and this week we’re circling back to a topic that we covered a few weeks ago, and it’s WeWork and WeWork’s upcoming IPO, and specifically WeWork’s ever changing valuation, which went down from something like 47 billion down to maybe 15 billion or 12 billion, or I don’t know, maybe by next week it’ll just be 10 billion. Nobody really knows. But that’s a huge drop. Seriously, from 47 billion initially to 15 billion. There’s also quite a bit of corporate governance change taking place. There’s a little bit, I don’t know if we can call it a revolution in there, but the stock votes is going from like 20 votes per share to 10 votes per share so there’s a lot of restructuring going on internally.
The CEO’s wife, which additionally had the rights to name the next CEO in case her husband got run over by a bus, that’s been taken away. The CEO, Adam Neumann, by the way, who’s also the co-founder, had up until just a few weeks ago, a majority share of shares, or at least decision making power, no longer has that. So it feels like not only is the company changing its valuation and adjusting it closer to what reality is, but they’re also cleaning house in there and it feels a little bit like they might be ushering in a change at the top. They’ve definitely taken the car keys away from Adam Neumann, it feels, and I don’t know, maybe getting ready to make bigger changes than that.
But it’s kind of been this snowballing disaster, kind of like this, I don’t know, every time I hear about WeWork, it seems like it’s worse than the last time that I did. It’s terrible. So Shelly, you first. In 45 seconds or less, what are your impressions or your takeaways from what’s happening with this IPO?
Shelly Kramer: Well, first of all, every time I see WeWork in the news, in my head I read that as we crazy because that kind of feels like a little bit of this situation. And I would say yes, I do agree with you. I think some house cleaning is going on. I’m not really sure why this didn’t happen in advance because what it really does for me is have a tremendous impact on the credibility of the company. These things existed. These conversations were happening about conflicts with Neumann’s real estate interests and how this ownership was structured and how weird it was. They could-
Olivier Blanchard: Oh right. He was self-dealing wasn’t he? He had to return that money.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. They could have tackled all of this stuff. They could have tackled all of this stuff at the onset, but as it is now, it’s just kind of like one fire after the other and it’s like watching them get their act together impacts them from a credibility standpoint for me in a big way.
Olivier Blanchard: Correct. Ron, what about you?
Ron Westfall: Yes, the timing is appalling and the momentum has just been spinning wheels. As we know earlier in the month, Neumann did have to return a 5.9 million trademark payment and so that was kind of a harbinger of what’s been going on just over the last few weeks. And there’s also talk of one of its key investors, SoftBank saying, “Hey, maybe we should reconsider the timing of the IPO”, and the latest indication is it’ll proceed forward on Monday. But yeah, I mean, there’s this nose spinning affect that the valuation has just gone in a nosedive and that all these incidents piling up right on the eve of the IPO is just bad PR. And so as a result we’ll see what the over under is on the IPO come Monday or sometime next week. 5 billion wouldn’t be farfetched.
Olivier Blanchard: I know. Honestly, I hope not. But yeah, what a train wreck. Anyway. So these are all the reasons why this was our Tech Bites this week. Nothing even came close to matching this particular train wreck. Okay. So now we finally come to the last segment on our podcast and that is our Crystal Ball. And as usual, or kind of traditionally, we circle back to the main topic, which was Apple. And I’m not actually going to talk about the iPhone because we already know that next year the iPhone will be a 5G phone, I’m 80% sure that it will have a USBC port, and that all the things that we’ve always wanted about the iPhone will come true next year. I actually think after the last three or four years of complaining about kind of like the slow downfall of iPhone, I think the iPhone finally gets great again in 2020.
However, we’ve also been hearing for several years now about Apple’s AR solution, about its AR glasses being right around the corner and being magical and the best thing ever. So looking into your crystal balls, each one of you, do you think that we will actually see Apple AR glasses this time next year in 2020? Yes or no?
Ron Westfall: I think we can probably see it sooner than that. I know there’s been delays and that there has been issues with getting it out to market. However, there are some additional reports adding consensus that this is a breakthrough that will actually happen next year, if not 12 months, perhaps even sooner. So this will be critical for Apple to overcome consumer apathy, which we can term Applethy, and make a comeback of sorts with this particular product because this is the big bang type of breakthrough product that we expect from Apple and getting away from iterations of existing products.
Shelly Kramer: Well I think it is going to happen and I think that this was rumored to happen pre event, I think there was some disappointment that it didn’t happen, but a developer found some code in the beta of iOS 13 that contains StarBoard frameworks, which is Apple’s shell for a stereo augmented reality app. So I think that the plan is there, the foundation has been laid, and it’s going to happen.
Olivier Blanchard: I think it’s going to happen next year as well, but I’m really curious though because that would be a magical leap, as opposed to a magic leap, forward. And one of the reasons being that you have a very limited form factor. You have to include the battery, you have to include the antennas, you have to include some of the processing powers, the projectors, everything else has to be contained in the frame. And it’s not that difficult to pull that off when you have big bulky frames and you have plenty of room to work with. But Apple being so focused on design has to make these glasses look good. It has to make these glasses look like something that you and I would want to wear while having all of the functionality, not just the AR lights that we’ve seen in other small form factors before, but something that’s actually substantial that’s not just an also in of some of the kind of very lightweights AR applications that we’ve seen out there with smaller companies.
I’m really curious to see how Apple is actually going to be able to pull that off and package it so that the glasses aren’t bulky, but they’re also not disappointing in their performance. And I think, and I have no inside information about this, and even though we kind of keep a close eye on what companies like Qualcomm, like big chip makers are doing, I have zero indication that Qualcomm is working with Apple on solving some of these engineering problems. But I would be very surprised now that Apple and Qualcomm are friends again and working together on at least iPhone, that they’re not also secretly working together to put this together and to actually make it work. It’s something that I think Intel probably wasn’t as able to pull off as Qualcomm would be. So I don’t know. Now I’m more hopeful than I was six months ago that we might actually see a pretty decent AR goggle from Apple next year.
So that’s it. And I am giving myself the last word on that, host prerogative, and with that, that does it for this edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. Thank you both for your amazing insights and really solid research for these stories this week. They were really good and very varied in focus. As always, for our listeners, thanks for listening and hit that subscribe button if you haven’t already. We hope that you’ll catch us next week for another round of news and analysis at the intersection of tech and business. In the meantime, have a great week everybody.
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