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Comment Money on the table (Score 1) 346

So how is Apple "leaving money on the table"?

Apple doesn't make and sell most of those accessories so they are giving any profits from them to others. Apple could charge a (bigger) premium for the bigger battery and increased durability. Apple could sell to market segments they currently are ignoring. It creates more means to market their product beyond "thinnest ever" (which is reaching it's limits) and denies a means of differentiation to their competitors. The business case and possible value added by doing it is a fairly straightforward case to make.

The market segment exists for smartphones with bigger batteries and/or more rugged construction. That's not really a debate. Whether that market segment is big enough for Apple to give a shit is a separate issue but there is ample evidence that it might very well be big enough.

It's very unlikely Apple would make enough profit by having an additional phone model for these people to justify the expenses involved (engineering, inventory, etc.). It's costly for companies to have more versions of a product, so it's only worth it if it brings them more customers.

You are correct about the cost considerations but that is EXACTLY why Apple over time has had to create additional versions of their products as they mature. That's why they ended up with numerous different iPod versions. It's why they have several different iPad versions. It's why they don't just have one model of Macintosh. If they fail to address these market segments then their competitors will sooner or later. People will not stick endlessly with Apple products if they can get better options elsewhere. We've already seen that when Apple almost died prior to the return of Steve Jobs. They may not have to do it today but sooner or later they probably will in some form or fashion.

Comment Market research (Score 1) 346

Apple & Samsung & everyone else have performed market studies that show that other than a nostalgic vocal few, not enough people would actually buy thicker phones to justify their development.

"Nostalgic"? Nobody wants thicker phones for nostalgia reasons. They want a thicker phone because it comes with a bigger battery and be less likely to break. Believe it or not, not everyone who buys a smartphone gives a shit about showing off how thin it is. Virtually EVERYONE who buys a phone immediately puts it in a protective case. So why not offer a version that doesn't need the case for those who want it? If they genuinely think they wouldn't sell then their market research people are bloody clueless. The evidence is right out there for everyone to see.

The proof of this is that If the market for thick phones was as underserved as you pretend, sales of thicker phones and these thick, reinforced battery pack cases for todays thinner phones would be a significant percentage of all smartphone buyers.

Battery pack cases and larger cases like Otter cases sell in HUGE numbers. They are exactly what you are describing and they are on literally millions of phones. I don't see any credible argument that there isn't a substantial market for smartphones with more durable construction and/or larger batteries.

Comment Peak thinness? (Score 1) 346

This new case design looks really sweet I think. Makes the phone look just about right. Maybe they should offer a version without the headphone adapter for those that don't care about that and just want extra battery life and a little thickness.

My preference if Apple was going to offer more models would be for them to make a "rugged" version with a bigger battery. Something that basically can take being dropped and handle more abuse without the need for an add on case and has 2-3X the battery life. Obviously being bulkier doesn't bother a lot of folks since they put it in a case anyway and obviously battery life has been a recurring complaint. The market CLEARLY exists and I think Apple is leaving money on the table by ignoring it.

I would think corporations would buy tons of them and I think a lot of end consumers would too. From a manufacturing standpoint the only real difference would be the battery size and the backshell to the case. Everything else would be identical so the extra cost due to complexity to the supply chain would be comparatively modest even if Apple didn't have tons of margin to burn.

This race to the bottom as far as thinness goes is such a strange fad. My phone is about 1cm thick and that's as thin as I want it to be. Sure super thin looks sleek but that's as far as it goes.

I've been wondering when smartphones are going to reach "peak thinness". They can't keep making them thinner for much longer unless they find some way around the laws of physics.

Comment Unused ports are a wasteful problem (Score 1) 346

You do realize if you have a port you do not use it is not a problem, but if you want one you have to _buy_ a case for sweet money and it also makes the phone bulkier.

Disagree that it isn't a problem. On a mobile device that is space that could be put to a better purpose. For me I'd rather have the space devoted to extra battery because that is more useful to me. Your mileage may vary. If you prefer a built in headphone jack I won't call you crazy because it's genuinely useful to some. But there are a LOT of people who rarely use the headphone jack in their phone so it is logical to make it an option on a case instead of built in. Plus there are plenty of smartphones that have the headphone jack built in so unless you "have" to have an Apple product you won't suffer for options.

Comment Offer a rugged version with bonus battery life (Score 3, Interesting) 346

I'd gladly pay the same price or slightly more for a slightly thicker/tougher, longer lasting phone.

Agreed. I don't really see the downside to offering a "rugged" version with extra battery life. I would think corporations would buy them by the bushel. I would probably buy one too.

As it is now, I have to get Otter cases for my phones for fear of them snapping or shattering.

I've always thought that the Otter cases were overkill for anyone who isn't suffering from parkinson's or has a terminal case of clumsy. I use a very minimal case make by Spigen and it's managed to keep my phone intact despite an occasional drop for over a year. If you want to be able to dribble your phone like a basketball then by all means get an Otter case but I don't think they are necessary for most and are WAY too bulky to be practical for the bigger phones like the iPhone 7plus.

The old nokia-style dumb bricks lasted forever. Sure, I couldn't browse the web but at the time I didn't care to.

That's a rationalization if I've ever heard one. You "didn't care to" because it wasn't an option. Even the early "smartphones" like the offerings from Nokia were absolutely terrible at browsing. I know because I owned several of them. They sucked.

Now with the iPhone 6, I'm able to go a couple days between charges... Less if I'm looking at the thing a lot or streaming music. It's not great, but its acceptable.

That means you don't use your iPhone a lot. If you use it heavily it will last 1 day max. I routinely wind mine down to near empty because I'm using it constantly. It's a rare day I don't dip below 50% charge at some point and I typically get to 20-30% with at least one mid-day recharge. I actually keep a charge cable in my car while driving. And in case you were wondering my battery works fine - I just use the phone a LOT.

Comment Exactly as predicted (Score 2) 346

Apple removed the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, forcing users to use either Bluetooth, the Lightning port or included Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor in order to listen to music through headphones. However, one company took it upon themselves to create an iPhone 7 case with a built-in 3.5mm headphone jack.

This is exactly what I predicted would happen prior to the iPhone's release. Those who want a headphone jack will get a case with a headphone jack built in. Those of us who don't really need one (myself included) won't be burdened by having a port they don't use though admittedly most of us (myself included) didn't mind it being there. Given that most people put their phones in a case anyway it is to some degree a win all around albeit an imperfect one.

Now if someone would just make a decent waterproof battery case that doesn't use micro-usb (either lighting or USB-C would be fine) I would be a happy guy. None of the current options are very good. If the battery case had a headphone jack built in, so much the better.

Comment Civil rights vs cultural consequences (Score 1) 239

As I said, I believe in and support vaccination. However, I cannot in good conscience support forcing people who don't believe in it to be vaccinated.

I would support their choice to not be vaccinated as long under the condition that if they decide not to be vaccinated after receiving education about the consequences of not vacinnating that they remain in some form of quarantine. Is this stance coercive? Yes it is. But when you present a clear and present danger to those around you by your irrational unwillingness to submit to a treatment that is demonstrably safe because of your ignorance I don't see any credible alternative. I would have no problem forcing them to go through an education class about the consequences of their decision. If they still make the choice to not vaccinate then quarantine it is. It might be a mild form of quarantine but if it is important enough to vaccinate for a disease then clearly the public interest is in stopping the disease completely.

If you do not grant that right of self-determination to others, on what basis can you argue that others should grant it to you?

Let's have a little perspective here. Vaccines are about as safe as any medication gets. Any risks are INCREDIBLY small and well documented. The dangers presented by people opting out of vaccines are real, consequential, and measurable. While I would agree that people should have the civil right to opt out of vaccination under normal circumstances, the evidence is clear that they are making an irrational choice and endangering others by that choice. I see no reason why we shouldn't assign cultural consequences to making that choice just like we do so many others.

The way I see it, the anti-vaxxer problem needs to be solved by educating people so they will make the correct decision on their own. Not by subjugating refusers and forcing them to do something against their will.

A common tactic in good parenting is to frame a decision. You don't ask a child who doesn't understand that veggies are good for them if they want to eat veggies because they will opt out every time. You ask them "do you want peas or carrots"? No veggies is not among the options available to them. This gives them the power to make a decision on their own but narrows the choices to a group of good decisions. If someone wants to decline to be vaccinated after being educated about the consequences of their decision then the decision tree should only involve options that are beneficial to society.

Comment Rights vs consequences (Score 4, Insightful) 239

Your right to be protected against disease does not override my right to decide what to put into my body.

Yes you have that right. HOWEVER that does not mean the rest of us have to accommodate you and the threat you present in society consequence free since you have chosen of your own free will (and delusions) to be a potential disease vector. Your unvaccinated children should not be allowed to attend school. You should not be allowed to have a job where you interact with people. Go ahead and stay unvaccinated and I'll defend your right to do so. But I also will insist that you remain in quarantine until it is safe to be around you.

Comment Never was a reasonable conversation (Score 4, Insightful) 239

Calling people you disagree with "crazy" shuts down any reasonable conversation.

You are presuming the conversation was reasonable to begin with. The anti-vax crowd is not spouting off reasonable viewpoints based on considered evidence. There is nothing reasonable about their viewpoint or what they are saying. They are loudly proclaiming harmful falsehood and putting people in harms way by doing so.. No matter how polite on is, ANY discussion with them is basically an instance of pointing out that they are crazy and dangerous. These are fearful people who are either unwilling or unable to listen to reason and evidence. It never was a reasonable conversation in any meaningful sense.

Comment The historical record (Score 1) 288

And there goes entire periods of history with no permanent record, of technology or data.

You do realize that ALL of human history has huge gaps in the historical record right? Both for technology and for everything else. It's not as if our ancestors were busy dutifully scribbling down a carefully maintained record of everything they did. Our historical record has always had big swaths of information that nobody bothered to save for posterity. If anything with the internet we are actually recording more than we ever did in days of yore.

Comment USPS (Score 1) 237

FedEx and UPS are bit players. USPS is the big gorilla in the room.

Not in package shipping they aren't. USPS is small potatoes in the package shipping business. In Q2 2016 USPS shipped $1.2billion in packages. UPS had revenues 10X that amount over the same period the vast majority of which was in package shipments.

In a week, USPS moves more than UPS does in a year. FedEx is smaller. It takes USPS just 3 days to do the same.

You are comparing letters with packages. Not a meaningful comparison. In theory USPS could compete strongly in package delivery but they haven't been effective at it to date.

Amazon's network may be big, but they won't be UPS/FedEx big.

They don't have to be as big as the third party couriers networks. Amazon doesn't have to roll out delivery everywhere all at once to be efficient at it. They could simply start with population centers like NYC and back haul. Over time they build it up AND they have a guaranteed customer unlike the freight couriers.

Comment Vertical integration and margin (Score 1) 237

You don't save $ by having "control over your shipments", you'd save by making your shipping system more efficient than alternative shippers. FedEx & UPS are pretty darn good at it and have a lot of experience.

Untrue on both counts. First off any time Amazon (or anyone else) ships via UPS or FedEx they are experiencing margin leakage to the tune of something like 8-13% which is actually quite a lot of margin in a low margin industry. That is money that could stay within the company if Amazon could vertically integrate. It's highly unlikely that for a substantial portion of Amazon's customer base that they couldn't save money by taking over at least a portion of the freight themselves. They certainly save money on back haul shipments they do themselves today and they could easily tackle the last mile problem piecemeal by offering Amazon delivery in dense population centers first. They don't have to replicate the entire UPS network from day one.

Trying to break into that game would be costly and maybe foolhardy. Just the fleet management alone could be enough to eat up any "savings".

As long as Amazon can achieve minimum efficient scale (look it up) on their freight services they would not be at a disadvantage. It's actually fairly routine for large companies like Walmart to have their own fleet of transport vehicles because it saves them money.

It might work out but I think you'd have to throw a lot of money at it to prime the pump.

Of course it would be a huge investment. But Amazon has the resources to do it and they are their own customer for the service so they don't have to sell the service to anyone else immediately. Furthermore they don't even really have to make a profit on the freight services. They could build their retail business by merely providing freight at cost which would allow them to sell products at lower costs to customers thus capturing more marketshare and making it harder still to compete with them online.

Comment Vertical integration (Score 1) 237

I would be interesting to see if they save any money here as well, considering UPS operates on about a 7-8% profit margin. Considering Amazon is such a large customer I would be willing to bet they make far less profit on Amazon shipments. Not a lot of room for savings unless they believe they have a new better way of doing shipping.

UPS had an operating profit of around 13% last year according to their annual report. That is plenty of margin to make it worthwhile for Amazon to want to vertically integrate their shipping.

Several considerations:
1) Amazon's retail business is a low margin business to begin with and they compete significantly on price - even a few percent can matter a lot. Walmart has margins of around 2-3% for comparison. If Amazon can eliminate the margin leakage to UPS that goes straight to their bottom line.
2) Integrating vertically has the benefit of having better control over the service you provide to customers. It is almost always harder to coordinate with an outside company than to deal with another internal division.
3) Amazon developing their own shipping service allows them to expand their business beyond shipping stuff sold through their own website. They could very conceivably capture business from UPS and FedEx and USPS. This creates a whole new revenue stream for them and diversifies the company somewhat.

UPS has a revenue of about $60 billion per year, while Amazon pays about $5 billion in yearly shipping costs. This puts them in an entirely different order of magnitude as far as scale goes. This makes it even less likely Amazon would save a lot of money.

You're looking at it the wrong way. The question is whether Amazon's freight service can reach minimum efficient scale in order to compete effectively. They don't necessarily have to match UPS in size to achieve comparable cost efficiency. Bear in mind as well that any shipments they do themselves they could in theory provide at or even below cost in order to scale Amazon's freight business AND that is revenue and profit not available to UPS/FedEx. Even if they don't try to make a profit on the freight at first it allows them to offer better pricing to customers (thus increasing retail revenue) and makes it even harder than it already is to compete in online shopping with them. Amazon also has the advantage that they can play UPS and FedEx against each other while they build their freight services.

Frankly it's kind of a no brainer for Amazon to get into the freight business in some form or fashion because vertical integration makes sense for them in a lot of ways. I also expect them to try to get into the office supply business (think Staples) and industrial supply business (think Grainger) in the near future in a big way. I think Amazon would kick the ass of the incumbents in those industries.

Comment Achievements (Score 1) 471

Maybe he/she doesn't like people who make outrageous claims they can't back up.

That's a peculiar stance given that Musk has largely backed up most of his claims with pretty good results. Sure he has missed a step here and there but by and large he's done what he has set out to do to date. He's proposed some pretty audacious ideas but so far his track record is absurdly good considering the difficulty of what he has attempted thus far. Some reasonable skepticism is fine but it's hard to argue that the guy doesn't produce.

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