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Because everything else surrounding tomorrow’s iPhone 5 launch has already become monumental. If you ask analysts, the launch will be a smooth sail. As you know, Apple CEO Timothy Cook is widely expected to address media at the Cupertino headquarters tomorrow at 10am PT, taking the wraps off Apple’s next-generation handset: The iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 or whatever you want to call it.

It’s gonna be a career-defining presentation for Apple’s new boss, his first following the August 24 resignation of Steve Jobs. No doubt investors will be searching for signs of the reality-distortion field in Cook’s keynote address while pundits weigh in on his on-stage persona and charisma. But what about the general public and consumers outside the core base?

These folks couldn’t care less about all the brouhaha – they just wanna a brand spanking new iPhone. “Consumers view Apple products as a must-have”, says Channing Smith, co-manager of the Capital Advisors Growth Fund, which owns Apple shares. “Apple phones and products have become almost a necessity. We don’t expect them to falter.”

ChangeWave says demand for the next iPhone is off the charts. Granted, Cook might face a difficult task convincing buyers to take the plunge in the economy like this. Let’s not forget the onslaught of powerful Android smartphones offered at various price points, form factors and networks.

Despite those obstacles, analysts are upbeat about the perfect storm of factors working towards Apple’s biggest product launch yet. The iPhone brand is mature, established and still iconic. Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White is calling for long lines stemming from the pent-up demand and unprecedented media blitz. At a time of broad market decline, he writes in a Monday note to clients:

We would rather own Apple than any other tech company in the current environment.

And Janney Capital Markets analyst Bill Choi predicts 84 million iPhones in 2011 and about 107 million iPhone shipments in 2012:

Apple is well positioned to capture an enormous profit pool as mobility and content worlds converge.

Choi also expects a new iPhone with the aluminum back resembling the MacBook Air, even though our manufacturing sources saw no signs of a major redesign. A general consensus among analysts is that the launch will shatter the 1.7 million iPhone 4s sold during the launch weekend. reports that Verizon Wireless is demanding its Salt Lake City employees work “unlimited overtime” Tuesday as “it’s clear that Verizon is expecting something big to drop THAT DAY”, implying the next iPhone will be available beginning tomorrow – a stretch, to say the least.

Meanwhile, Ticonderoga Securities’ Brian White singles out five reasons why it will knock everyone off their seat, as reported by Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

 • The stock has fallen to the point where it is trading at 9.4 times Ticonderoga’s calendar 2012 pro forma EPS estimate

 • Given the pent-up demand from the delayed launch, he believes the company will shatter the record 1.7 million iPhone 4’s sold in the first three days last year

 • The iPhone is now sold to a record number of carriers (228 carriers at end of June vs. 154 a year earlier) and can now operate on CDMA networks as well as GSM

 • Following the precedent set by the iPad 2, Apple is likely to roll the phone out to its international carriers more aggressively than previous launches

 • The booming China market is likely to play a bigger role than ever before

Of course, we’ve known China would become Apple’s jet fuel. In the June quarter, the company reported a sixfold growth in China based on revenues of $3.8 billion. In addition to China Unicom, Apple’s only carrier in the country, Apple could launch its phone on China Telecom and China Mobile, the nation’s leading wireless operators. China Telecom is said to be gearing up for a $235 million ad blitz dubbed “Dragon Plan”.

It is interesting that Apple’s shares have lost about $17 off their value in the past two weeks. Typically, the stock gains as the excitement builds up ahead of Apple’s major product events and cools off following the announcement, presenting investors with an opportunity to profit from Apple’s product launches by selling high in the pre-event phase and buy low post-event.

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A Look At Tim Cook’s First Two Years As Apple’s Ceo

Two years ago today, to the date, Tim Cook officially took over the reigns as Apple’s CEO. Cook had long been handling the position’s day-to-day duties, and had played interim CEO on a few occasions, but on August 24, 2011, Steve stepped down and Tim stepped up.

One can only imagine what it’s like to try and take over a chief executive role for a company as big as Apple, following up someone like Steve Jobs. But Tim Cook has thus far managed to do it. Here are some of the more notable moments from his two-year tenure…

Foxconn problems

Less than 6 months after taking office, Tim Cook was confronted with a major PR problem. The New York times published a scathing article on Foxconn, Apple’s largest manufacturing partner, for its poor employee working and living conditions. While it’s true, the company had long been under scrutiny for its labor problems, this report suggested that Apple was aware of the infractions, and intentionally not doing anything about them.

Cook reacted quickly, sending out letters to employees and the press, ensuring them that “Apple cares about every worker in its worldwide supply chain,” and is doing everything in its power to improve their working conditions. As a result, Apple opened up its supply chain to inspection by the Fair Labor Association, and recent reports say Foxconn has shown signs of improvement.

iOS 6 Maps app

In late 2012, Apple made the decision to drop Google’s Maps app in iOS 6 and replace it with its own mapping software. But it quickly found out how difficult the task was, and Tim Cook found himself in another PR fiasco. Consumers everywhere complained of missing data points, location inaccuracies and poor turn-by-turn directions. Some government agencies even started issuing warnings about the app.

Once again, Cook reacted quickly and penned a well thought-out letter to the public, this time apologizing for Apple Maps falling short of expectations. He admitted that his team had failed to deliver “the best experience possible” to customers, and promised to put the weight of the company behind making it right. And for what it’s worth, Maps is significantly better than it was.

Apple stock crosses $700 per share

Despite the Maps debacle, Apple went on to sell its iPhone 5 in record numbers. Pre-orders for the handset crossed 2 million in the first 24 hours, and total sales topped 5 million during its opening weekend. This led to Apple’s stock crossing the $700 per share mark for the first time in the company’s history.

Admittedly, at $501 and some change, AAPL has since fallen quite a bit from its peak. But at the time, crossing that $700 mark signified that Wall Street had faith in the one-year veteran and his Cupertino gang to continue their run without Steve Jobs at the helm. And without question, I think that this was a major high point for Cook.

Executive Shakeup

On October 29 of last year, Apple issued a surprising press release announcing that SVP of iOS software, Scott Forstall, would be leaving the company as part of a major executive shakeup. Forstall had been leading iOS development since the platform’s inception, and was said to be a Jobs favorite. So needless to say, this was one of Cook’s biggest moves at the time as CEO.

A recent Reuters profile cites sources saying that the shakeup was a direct result of the Maps fiasco, and Cook moved quickly and decisively. He fired Forstall, and handed off Maps to Eddy Cue, design to Jony Ive, and the iOS team to Craig Federighi. We don’t yet know how effective the reorganization has been, or will be, but we should get a better idea this fall.

iPad mini launch

Even though Apple has been making tablets since 2010, it didn’t start offering a 7.9-inch version until late last year. In November of 2012 Apple launched the iPad mini, and by all counts it’s been a resounding success. Even without a Retina display, most analysts believe it’s outselling the larger iPad by a significant margin.

While Tim Cook might not be the visionary that Steve Jobs was, he still has to sign off on new products. And his thumbs up or thumbs down can have a huge impact on not only Apple’s profits, but its brand image and investor relations as well. Here, he made the right call in green-lighting the iPad mini, making his first new product launch as CEO a success.

So as you can see, Cook has overseen some major issues, changes and product launches (and many more we didn’t list) at Apple in the last two years, and has managed to keep the ship steady. Sure, APPL has slid 200 points from its peak, but it’s also moving upward right now, and has gained more than 100 points in the last two months.

But the next two years will really show Cook’s abilities. Apple has a big fall of product refreshes coming up, and there is said to be a number of all-new products—iTV, iWatch, etc.—in the pipeline. And he has to preside over all of this with investors and, from what we’ve been hearing, Apple’s board breathing down his neck, calling for more “innovation.” It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the added pressure. So far, I think he’s done a great job.

What do you think?

Openstack: We’re Living In A Software Defined Economy

ATLANTA. OpenStack is not just about the cloud, it’s about connecting the entire planet in a way that has never been done before. At the OpenStack Summit here, Jonathan Bryce, Executive Director of the OpenStack Foundation, kicked off the event with a visionary keynote about the role of the cloud in the modern world and how OpenStack fits in to this scenario.

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Bryce added that it’s critical to have both people and the systems that actually enable an agile infrastructure. He added that without an agile infrastructure it’s like having a high performance car without wheels.

“In the last five years seen we have seen a lot of growth in the agile infrastructure space,” Bryce said. “We have gone from a model where the only place to get agile infrastructure was Amazon and OpenStack has now opened that up.”

“OpenStack is the engine of the software defined economy,” Bryce added.

Going a step forward, OpenStack provides a different consumption model for technology than other technologies do. Bryce noted that that the modern enterprise is no longer simply passively consuming software that some vendor sells on a two- or three-year cycle.

“Users are getting involved and really making a difference,” Bryce said.

As has been the case for at least the last three OpenStack Summit events, Bryce brought some users on stage. Glenn Ferguson, Head of Cloud Enablement at Wells Fargo, explained why his company is using OpenStack and why he’s involved.

“This is a community and it is in my best interest to be at conferences and let the community know what we’re doing,” Ferguson said. “The collective mass of the community is what everyone benefits from.”

Chris Launey, director, cloud services and architecture at the Walt Disney Company, said he’s involved with OpenStack because he wants to empower people when they come to work with technology. Launey noted that Disney was able to build an OpenStack pilot deployment in only three months.

Troy Toman, Vice President, Cloud Infrastructure Products at Rackspace, followed Bryce with a keynote that compared OpenStack to the Rebel Alliance from the Star War movies. “We may not be facing the Death Star, but we do have our challenges,” Toman said.

While showing a picture of Imperial Stormtroopers, Toman said that proprietary non-OpenStack cloud technologies have armies of software developers and they are relentless.

Going a step beyond the Star Wars metaphor, Toman said that OpenStack could one day power a Planetary Scale cloud operating system. OpenStack now has some federation capabilities, though he noted that there is still work to be done to improve interopability.

“OpenStack is at a key moment now,” Toman said. “We’re moving to a software defined world that will change the world in ways we can’t imagine.”

Troy Toman, Vice President, Cloud Infrastructure Products at Rackspace

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and chúng tôi Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

Graphic image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Apple Is Safe With Tim Cook

Apple is Safe with Tim Cook

Wednesday afternoon Apple’s long-time CEO and founder Steve Jobs sent a letter out to the company’s Board of Directors and the greater Apple Community announcing his resignation as CEO of Apple. His letter requests and the board has agreed that now former Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook would become the new Apple CEO while Jobs himself would become Chairman of the Board, director, and, as he put it, “Apple employee.” As we find confidence in the fact that Jobs will continue to be a large member of the Apple family, we of course look to Tim Cook to fill the role that Jobs has defined for several decades. Is Tim Cook up to the task?

Tim Cook is a name you really should recognize. He’s already served as interim CEO for Apple several times, each of them while Jobs took health-related leaves. These periods of Cook as Apple CEO took place in 2004, in the first half of 2009, and since Jobs took a leave of absence this past January, a period where Cook has handled day-to-day CEO duties daily. Jobs’ letter of resignation referred to a succession plan that included Cook already laid out well before today came around. As a former VP for Corporate Materials at Compaq, Chief Operating Officer of the computer reseller division of Intelligent Electronics, and having spent 12 years as director of North American Fulfillment at IBM, Cook would have been a qualified candidate for a high position in the business even before you consider his exemplary service with Apple since 1998.

During his years with Apple he rose from senior vice president of operations to his current position of COO starting in 2005. His several accolades include reinventing Apple’s approach to inventory supply chains, managing perfectly timed releases of new products, and keeping in-demand products in stock, each of these puzzle pieces essential to the current success of Apple. In fact, his contributions to the success of Apple can literally be counted in dollars and cents during his 2009 stint as acting CEO as Apple’s stock rose 67 percent according to CNN’s profile of Cook.

As a 2009 profile of Tim Cook with Wired notes, Michael Janes, the first general manager of Apple’s online store gives one look at Cook as the guy who turns all the fabulous designs Apple is set to release into “a big pile of cash for the company.” The profile goes on to note:

In some ways, Cook and Jobs are poles apart. Cook is the yin to Jobs’ yang. A quiet, soft-spoken, low-key executive, he couldn’t be more different from Jobs’ sarcastic, fearsome, larger-than-life personality. But that’s exactly what makes him perfect for the job, say people who have worked with Cook.

On the other hand, a profile of Cook from Fortune calls him a much less feeling sort of fellow – and that’s a good thing:

Tim cook arrived at Apple in 1998 from Compaq Computer. He was a 16-year computer-industry veteran – he’d worked for IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) for 12 of those years – with a mandate to clean up the atrocious state of Apple’s manufacturing, distribution, and supply apparatus. One day back then, he convened a meeting with his team, and the discussion turned to a particular problem in Asia.

“This is really bad,” Cook told the group. “Someone should be in China driving this.” Thirty minutes into that meeting Cook looked at Sabih Khan, a key operations executive, and abruptly asked, without a trace of emotion, “Why are you still here?”

Khan, who remains one of Cook’s top lieutenants to this day, immediately stood up, drove to San Francisco International Airport, and, without a change of clothes, booked a flight to China with no return date, according to people familiar with the episode. The story is vintage Cook: demanding and unemotional.

As Lex Friedman notes in the Macworld profile of Cook, the known Apple share holder puts down on paper the thoughts many people in such a position had in early 2011 when the article was written and what we’re sure many people are feeling now:

Should Steve Jobs by choice or necessity ever need a full-time replacement at Apple, it will of course be the board’s decision to decide who should fill his black turtleneck. But with Tim Cook taking over now for the third time in seven years—and his consistent track record when called upon thus far—one might expect that Apple’s future is already in safe hands.

As I noted back in February, Apple’s legacy and future is safe, doubly so now that Jobs is confirmed to still be a part of the company and Cook is at the helm.

Also note that you can read the official press release on this event in the post Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple from earlier today.

Why Machine Learning Is Key To The Search Marketing Of Tomorrow

Advertising has changed a lot over the years.

There was a time when machine learning, automation, and software-based marketing tech stacks weren’t a “thing.”

But now we’re past the days of just radio, outdoor, print, and a handful of channels on TV.

There are hundreds of channels across physical and print media and online at present, including social, mobile, and video. Even TV has diversified into hundreds of cable channels on your remote control. And yet, digital ad revenue has gone on to surpass that of TV.

The dominance of digital is nothing new. Paid search marketing is becoming more data-focused than ever before.

So, What Do You Do with Big Data?


Is it because machine learning, automation, and software will completely replace savvy digital professionals and their creative ideas?

No. Far from it.

I believe that the future of digital will be a combination of smart marketers – like yourself – empowered by smart automation based on machine learning. As it happens, in a survey we recently ran on the subject, 97 percent of top digital marketing influencers (including speakers from AWeber, Oracle, and VentureBeat) agreed.

What Is Machine Learning & Why Is It Important? Digital’s Data Problem in Three Parts

Data is a challenge in modern marketing. There’s significantly more of it than there used to be, and as marketing technology matures, it becomes capable of collecting even more on top of that.

1. Overload

Data overload is a known problem. There’s too much of it – an overwhelming abundance of it already.

Yet Oracle points out that digital data growth is expected to increase globally by 4,300 percent by 2023. This problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

2. Ownership

Veritas reports that 52 percent of all business data is “dark” (of dubious or completely unknown value), and projects that mismanaged data will cost businesses $3.3 trillion by 2023.

3. Integration

There’s also a problem with siloing. Most businesses collect data in different buckets that aren’t necessarily integrated directly with each other, or indeed, with their own in-house marketing tech stack.

Accenture reports that while three-quarters of all digital skills gaps (the gap between a team member’s current level knowledge and the level of knowledge they need to successfully use new tech and tactics) come from lack of ownership, the remaining 25 percent of digital skills gaps come from a lack of integration.

And Then There’s the Changing Customer Journey

Advertising isn’t limited to a handful of channels. There are literally thousands of ways to reach customers, and pretty much all of them can be easily tuned out by an audience of increasingly demanding and disaffected customers who expect to have exactly what they’re looking for delivered to them instantly (and who will react poorly when it isn’t).

Research firm McKinsey breaks down the all-important consideration stage of the buying journey into four parts: “initial consideration; active evaluation, or the process of researching potential purchases; closure, when consumers buy brands; and postpurchase, when consumers experience them.”

The firm also finds that two-thirds of the touchpoints in the crucial evaluation stage are customer-driven, including browsing online reviews or soliciting word-of-mouth recommendations.

How Does Machine Learning Solve These Problems?

Machine learning can be used to rein in the challenge of data, particularly when combined with disciplines such as probability-based Bayesian statistics, regression modeling, and data science. One of its greatest strengths here is the ability to take data-driven insights and build predictive models.

These predictive models can, in turn, be used to proactively address points of peak buying interest, attrition, or other key moments observed in the customer buying journey.

Examples of Machine Learning in Action

Let’s look at some examples of the way this technology is being used.

Chatbots & Voice Assistants

You may have noticed an increase in the use of conversational interfaces from major publishers such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook in the form of chatbots and voice assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri and Cortana among others).

TOPBOTS notes that chatbots can have uses in unique, consumer-based contexts, such as event ticketing, health-related questions and the ever-important sports scores. These interfaces create a relevant and engaging user experience by supplying conversational responses based on historically-collected data – the most commonly-used or highly-searched terms.

Predicting & Preventing Customer Churn

A significantly deeper-funnel strategy at the post-purchase stage is to use machine learning to forecast common points of customer attrition.

Microsoft Azure and Urban Airship have both built predictive analytics models to determine the approximate timeframes and buying stages at which customers tend to most frequently churn. By projecting these important points in the future, these businesses are then able to proactively address common complaints before customers churn, driving higher retention and ultimately strengthening their businesses.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Semantic Distance Modeling


Machine learning isn’t necessarily a threat to marketers. On the contrary, it’s a powerful ally that’s making marketers’ lives easier while empowering them to predictively engage their customers in a highly relevant way.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time – and with the power of machine learning, marketers are able to more accurately accomplish this goal by relying on actual data, rather than guesswork.

For Today Only, Itunes Is Offering 10

Ten years ago this month, digital movies launched on iTunes with just 75 titles, all from studios owned by Disney in which Steve Jobs was the largest individual shareholder. Today, iTunes offers more than 85,000 feature-length movies for purchase or rental. To celebrate ten years of iTunes Movies, Apple is offering six ten-movie bundles, priced at just $9.99.

For today only, customers in the United States can buy these bundles packed with releases from Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, Lionsgate and Sony Pictures that cover a wide range of genres.

Here’s Apple’s message:

We can’t believe it’s been ten years since we first launched iTunes Movies. We’ve loved every minute of finding new ways for viewers to connect with and collect their favorite movies, as well as new ones we can’t get enough of. We’re celebrant by taking a look back at some of the biggest and best movies that have one out since we hit the scene. Explore a variety of bundles, top sellers and more from throughout the years.

And here are your download links:

10 Years of iTunes Movies—Warner Bros.: The Judge (2014), Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Pacific Rim (2013), Magic Mike (2012), Contagion (2001), The Town (2010), The Hangover (2009), Sex and the City: The Movie (2013), 300 (2007) and Superman Returns (2006). All movies in this bundle come with iTunes Extras, except Contagion, Sex and the City: The Movie and Superman Returns.

10 Years of iTunes Movies—Universal Studios: Ride Along (2014), Identity Theft Unrated Edition (2013), Rush (2013), Snow White & Huntsman Extended Edition (2012), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), Little Fockers (2010), It’s Complicated (2009), Forgetting Sarah Marshall Unrated Edition (2008), Knocked Up Unrated Edition (2007) and Inside Man (2006). In this bundle, only Ride Along contains iTunes Extras.

10 Years of iTunes Movies—Paramount: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2023), Selma (2023), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Flight (2012), No Strings Attached (2011), The Fighter (2010), Up in the Air (2009), Tropic Thunder Director’s Cut (2008), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Zodiac (2007). Titles with iTunes Extras include Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Selma, The Wolf of Wall Street, Flight and The Fighter.

10 Years of iTunes Movies—Sony Pictures: The Monuments Men (2014), Captain Phillips (2013), To Rome With Love (2012), Moneyball (2011), The Social Network (2010), Easy A (2010), Julie & Julia (2009), Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008), The Pursuit of Happyness (2007) and The Da Vinci Code Extended Cut (2009). All movies in this bundle have iTunes Extras except Julie & Julia, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and The Pursuit of Happyness.

10 Years of iTunes Movies—Lionsgate 1: Divergent (2014), Now You See Me (2013), Warm Bodies (2013), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), Margin Call (2011), Warrior (2011),  The Switch (2011), Kick-Ass (2010), Twilight Extended Edition (2008) and No Country for Old Men (2007). Each and every title in this bundle include iTunes Extras.

10 Years of iTunes Movies—Lionsgate 2: Ender’s Game (2013), Mud (2013), The Impossible (2012), Arbitrage (2012), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), The Hunger Games (2012), The Expendables (2010), The Cove (2009), Gone Baby Gone (2007) and The Queen (2006). All titles in the bundle have iTunes Extras.

If you’re a movie buff like yours truly, you’re wholeheartedly recommended to buy these bundles as you’ll end up paying just a buck per movie. I’ve purchased all six bundles because I think $60 is a small price to pay to own sixty high-definition movies, most of which come with additional iTunes Extras.

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