The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

Apple always bites back

October5

Sprint did not fall over itself committing to buy Android devices, did they?

I’ll be arguing, sooner than later, that Android devices are for losers. or, possibly simply for those that don’t mind losing. stand by for that. but, when I unleash that hell on Google you can be certain there will be yelling, fist-shaking, and a fair amount of pushing and shoving in many a hallway and Starbucks.

perhaps of more concern, in terms of the immediate, I’ll be discussing the new iPhone shortly, but consider only the recent news regarding Sprint Nextel Corporation. late Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that as Apple Inc. prepared to release the new(ish) iPhone Tuesday, the terms it has squeezed from Sprint reveal the leverage it has over the telecom companies that once drove decision-making.

this is important information for both perspective and as a back-drop for future decision-making.

the Wall Street Journal reported (but, I already knew) that Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier behind ATA&T and Verizon, is making a multi-billion-dollar gamble on the Apple iPhone. Sprint has apparently committed to buying at least 30.5 million iPhones, in a deal the company will lose money on until 2014. but, just so we are clear, this is, in fact, a BILLION DOLLAR BET, on Apple.

prediction – and, you read it, here, first.

watch what happens with Sprints indirect “partners” in China. this way you (as defined by those that do the research) won’t be surprised by the nationalization of the cellular industry and where the supply of iPhones comes from. and, whom buys a lot of those phones committed to by Sprint. the demand for iPhone (and, NOT Android devices) coming from that region is going to be insatiable.

short Google, and buy Apple.

meanwhile…

looking at the new(ish) iPhone 4S… here is a valid line of thinking that I know analysts (and consumers) will pick-up on…

don’t look for a detailed technology overview from me. NOTE: I underutilize technology, but I understand and appreciate it. my role, here, is to add perspective.

so… the new(ish) iPhone 4S is evidently twice as fast as the original 4, and jammed with new features and upgraded hardware (most people will never buy an actual camera again – so, Apple has changed camera-use behavior, if not an entire and separate industry).

the voice recognition software called “SIRI” is stunning, and cool, and I’m already spoiled by it.

there is no bottom-line. the story will only get bigger and Apple technology more impactful to our lives, collectively. the simple fact is that the iPhone 4S is an almost entirely new and very much upgraded iPhone. but, in typical Apple fashion, they are down-playing that and sticking to their road-map strategy and simply calling it the (S), just like they did with the 3S.

the best news is Apple consumers expect miracles. The stock is a miracle. Apple continues to lead down more roads than most people could ever hope to travel.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

 

super vision for what really matters

November11

Warning… Epic Blogpost alert, here.

If you’ve been following this Blog – and, of course, you have – you know that I’m enthralled with the idea of using Android on desktop and laptop computers. We have it working on two HP’s now. More about that to be sure. But, there is more to all of this this than most of you are aware.

The above tantalizing preamble above aside, allow me to get you moving in the right direction with this thought: If you have super powers then use them for good, says I.

And now for the really interesting part…

Google is now part of the evil empire. So, I have to evaluate whether it’s in the best interest of my own shareholders, and that of the world, at large, itself, to keep them as clients. I once had a similar dilemma with WebMD (insider information concerns, and then of course, the situation with the burning house) back around 2001, and another company I can’t name (but, in 2004 they were the largest website development company on the East Coast).

…what? Larry Page, himself, clearly dictated years ago that Google will “do no evil”.

As many faithful readers of this Blog are fully aware, and – don’t bother even trying to deny it, I had a Padawan on my hands named Nicholas Johnson who is a rabid Google and Android fan. He kept me on my toes and would go after me (and Steve Jobs) regarding all things relative to Google and the Android platform.

He did good, in that regard.

It’s certainly because of Nicholas that I now use an HTC EVO 4G cellular telephone that also happens to be an Android device (this will change, at some point. But, for the moment, I’m using it to experiment with, and learn). And, part of that entails putting Android on certain devices in a manner that could possibly unhinge Microsoft. I won’t bother pointing to a prior post about this. Just scroll down. Do it!

In any event, about six weeks ago he (Nicholas) came up with some market share numbers that had the Android platform making significant ground on Apple’s iOS. There is no doubt that one day the iPhone will likely be an also ran. And, that is fine, even by me. Apple sets the stage, if not consistently commanding it. And, they will pioneer and forge ever more promising technology advancements. And, Android will help prove Apple right. And, as a shareholder, I could never complain. And, by the way… You might be aware of the fact that Verizon just picked-up the iPad (even before the iPhone (that’s coming soon). So, that re[presents something of a paradigm (think SKYPE-ish) and how the world might lean into the Apple iOS.

As I mentioned above, I recently picked up the HTC EVO 4G handset offered through Sprint. Once again I was fed up with the awful service we have to suffer at the hands of AT&T. Mind you, I’m convinced it’s not the iPhone, as a hand-set. The AT&T infrastructure is clearly over-loaded. So,  this is really a great excuse for me to continue my open-minded quest for wicked-cool gear. Along the way, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of HTC, itself. They make great hand-sets used by almost all of the mobile service providers (including Apple). I’m not going to offer a review of the HTC EVO 4G, here. Suffice to say that it’s working great. I got used to the Android platform while using my NexusOne (now in the able hands of my eight year old who has upgraded to an HTC HERO). NOTE: I think the HTC EVO 4G is (was?) the first to use Android 2.2. Feel free to correct that information if I happen to be mistaken (but, it’s what Sprint says on all the promotional collateral). And, I’m not dropping any calls, yet. I’m told the voice quality is much better (by my wife any way).

Just in case you want some verification that HTC is onto something, don’t worry about my opinion. Do your own research and focus on consumer reports like the following:

http://reviews.cnet.com/best-cell-phones/

http://www.phonerated.com/menu.php?topic=best+phones+by+category

However, my point might not be what you are warming up to, thus far. So, go ahead and get ready.

…here it comes.

If I am going to preach being open-minded, then I need to make that my stand as well. Always. So, this might mean being in league with Google, other than them being a client of mine.

So, we are going to clear up some information, or even misinformation…

To wit… The battle between Apple and Google in the mobile space has been heating up, to be sure. But, new market share numbers from research firm Nielsen show the race isn’t even particularly close.

According to a recent report released, that compares the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, Apple’s iPhone OS has more than triple the market share Google’s Android operating system. Nielsen puts the iPhone OS market share at twenty-eight percent (28%), while Android’s is at nine percent (9%). The numbers also put Apple in second place behind BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM), which has a thirty-five percent (35%) share, and remains the leader in business utilization with a very loyal user base (but, keep watching Verizon – because their adoption of iOS gadgets is a game-changer). In third place is Microsoft Windows Mobile with nineteen percent (19%), followed by Google (not sure what this means, to be candid), Palm four percent(4%), Linux three percent (3%) [this could be interesting in terms of the actual {not Android} emerging open-source community], and Symbian two percent (2%). And, with recent Apple numbers now in-hand, we know that Apple is now selling more units than Blackberry. So, the business world is catching on… So, as to be expected, it’s going to be all about Apple and Google. That’s cool by me because I(and, those that follow me) own both stocks.

NOTE: Apple and Google both moved up by two percent (2%) in the first quarter of 2010. In the same period, RIM and Microsoft both lost two percent (2%) market share. And, this probably reflects the iPad that is changing everything. And, counts as mobile, certainly. I feel compelled to point-out that the iPad numbers failed to meet expectations this quarter. But, this is, ironically, Apple eating itself. What I mean by this is the iPad has everyone thinking twice about what type of mobile computer to purchase. Laptop sales are off as people consider buying an iPad instead – or, possibly the Android-powered tablet. But, the screen size will end up being an issue. And, again, Verizon will facilitate smart business people like John Adamski leveraging that platform to build platforms that also change the world. HINT: A company to watch is: eSenseRetail Corporation.

It should be also noted that when it comes to the mobility wars, Apple’s iPhone (jailbroken units aside) is only sold through exclusive service providers in key markets, whereas Android handsets are sold prolifically by almost all the service providers. To keep things in perspective, it takes multiple service providers and handset configurations combined to compete with Apple that might be setting the standard.

Might?

Pause for a moment and consider this as an abstract perception… Apple’s are not for everyone. But, Android devices are for everyone else. As long as Apple keeps it’s valuation, what else really matters?

Well… My point is that HTC can also set a quality standard. The Android OS is still unrefined. However, the quality of the hardware is outstanding. And, yes, as I’ve mentioned, HTC has it’s hand in building the iPhone. Hardware plus software plays are part of the formula for making money – both commercially and in stock ownership.

By the way… Just to further demonstrate that I’m not biased, my personal opinion is that Blackberry’s (I used the 8900 for awhile) might have the best voice quality. But, that simply won’t matter, soon enough.

Also… Chinese mobile phones are also in demand because they can be had cheap (it’s all relative, eh) and are often better knock-off’s (not only are three cups of tea important in China, but they have three separate levels of manufacturing quality – and, that is crucial in terms of understanding how to do business in-and-around China) than the original manufacturer. For example, six months ago, no one had heard of of G five mobile which was only founded in 2003, and they are now number ten in the world with a focus on China and India.

Swinging this bloated post around…

And, the epic nature of this post will broaden with the harsh reality that Google Inc.’s methods for recommending websites are being reviewed by Texas’ attorney general in an investigation spurred by complaints that the company has abused its power as the Internet’s dominant search engine.

So, get your collective heads around the emerging reality that, despite Serg’s and Larry’s best intentions (and, I know they were sincere because I saw their eyes twelve years ago), Google has grown up, and must needs act like a company corporation more concerned for the best interests of shareholders (profits) than altruistic interests.

Thusly, this will herald a strong likelihood that Google has joined the ranks of Microsoft as evil empire, despite it’s aforementioned credo of “do no evil”.

There is more (so much more) you didn’t know…

It’s not commonly understood that Google does not actually make anything. They buy almost everything. Back in July 2005, when Google seemed to have so much money it didn’t know what to do with, it quietly went about buying up a load of start-up companies. Some of these never really saw the light of day: for instance, Dodgeball, a service that allowed you to text a group of friends in a similar way to Twitter, has never really appeared anywhere in Google’s stable. Don’t just take my word for it. Read more, here (do it!): http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/a-complete-history-of-android-470327#ixzz14tk1w6bM.

This includes the Android Operating system. This makes for a vital difference between them, and companies that are true innovators, like Apple. It actually makes Google more like Microsoft, doesn’t it?

The antitrust inquiry carefully disclosed by Google about a month ago (you probably did not read the fine print of their 10-Q, and the media made little too-doo over it)  is just the latest sign of the intensifying scrutiny facing the company as it enters its adolescence.

Since its inception in a Silicon Valley garage twelve years ago, Google has gone from a quirky startup to one of the world’s most influential businesses with annual revenue approaching thirty billion ($30 lots of 0’s).

The review appears to be focused on whether Google is manipulating its search results to (gasp) stifle competition.

FACT: The pecking order of those results can make or break websites because Google’s search engine processes about two-thirds of the search requests in the United States, and handles even more volume in other parts of the world.

QUESTION: Does the Google generation want to acknowledge this? Perhaps of greater interest (to me anyway) is, do they care? And, does it matter?

…no… probably not… yes.

This fascinates me. And, this is why I get to be the “Cultural Architect”.

That aforementioned (I’ll trust your tracking with me, here) dominance, as perpetrated by Google for the benefit of people that pay them (altruism be damned, Larry), means a website ranking high on the first page of Google’s results will likely attract more traffic, and generate more revenue – either from ads or merchandise sales. That is influence. And, manipulation. So, there is Machiavelli raising his head – and, Microsoft that better be ducking theirs (keep reading).

On the flip side, being buried in the back pages of the results, or even at the bottom of the first page, can be financially devastating and, in extreme cases, has been blamed for ruining some Internet companies. That is also influence.

Influence is power. And, Machiavelli wrote the book on that subject: The Prince, in fact (see also The Art of War – and, it’s apropos).

What most of you certainly won’t know, and thank the North American media, for that, is European regulators already have been investigating complaints alleging that Google has been favoring its own services in its results instead of rival websites.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget that Google might pride itself on a pledge to maintain open architecture. But, quality will suffer for a long time. And, that is another vital difference between itself and Apple. So, there is Google being a bit more corporate, while Apple continues to lead the way both in terms of its pledge to be the best, and keep it fresh and, altruistic – while also being profitable. Genius, at naught but it’s very best.

Never mind the Adobe FLASH issue. That’s all a feint. Trust me. And, guess what? The end will justify the means, there. That makes sense if you are doing your home work, here.

There is nothing, ultimately sophomoric, about lessons learned at the feet of Machiavelli. That’s another thing Dr. Nick Pappas taught some of us at Radford University.

So… Microsoft could never match the “feel” of Apple (I’ve been using Windows 7 now for five weeks just to research this very point and to avoid any opportunity to be a hypocrite, or uninformed). Google has had it’s shot, but might be facing a big miss, here.

And… Google, not satisfied to let any and all coders into its Android app store (oh, those Babylonian whores), has invited non-coders alike to invent mobile apps of their own with a simple building-block system that, it claims, anyone can use (and, they are).

Did you know that Facebook developer Joe Hewitt isn’t buying Android creator Andy Rubin’s definition of what “open” means. I’ll not add a link to either Facbook or Mr. Hewitt. My daughter uses Facebook. And, I’m convinced it’s all a tragedy if not a plot realized by true terrorists to unhinge our community.

The promise, unrealized as yet, is to let every person who bores their friends talking about what a great idea they have for an app to build the thing and be done with it. Those that are sophomoric, and unrefined will think this is appropriate and fair. But, I’ll take them to task with an admonition that they don’t understand quality and accountability (although some Google apps are certainly great and cool and solid, to be sure).

Bear with me for a bit, this is a bit of a geek fest. You may be rolling your eyes (but if you are I bet you are also concerned about finances), but I’m having fun, with all of this.

Last month Jobs attacked Google’s Android smart phone operating system, arguing there are so many different versions of the software it’s hard to argue the software is accessible to users and developers as Apple’s iOS.

Shortly after that  Andy Rubin (the guy who actually coded Android, acquired by Google) replied, via Twitter, posting a computer command that would allow a developer to download and play with Google’s Android operating system. The message: “open’ means being able to play with the code”.

…Geek me with a spoon.

To help Mr. Hewitt’s point along, however, Android isn’t as open as, say, Linux (i.e. Ubuntu (not to be confused with the African tribal ethical philosophy) – something I use more and more (the operating system, not the philosophy [well… some times], and other open source projects, where anyone can add to the project before each official ‘release.’

Google App Inventor platform for Android demonstrates how markedly Google’s philosophy differs from Apple’s, whose app model it copied emulated to a great extent. Apple wants a velvet rope to keep sub-par developers out, but Google just sent them an engraved invitation, potentially opening the floodgates for exactly the type of deluge of unsophisticated apps that Apple seems so eager to avoid.

To wit…

“App Inventor requires no programming knowledge,” reads the Google’s description of the program, currently in a closed beta. “This is because instead of writing code, you visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app’s behavior.” That reads cool. But, the result might not be. And, I like knowing. It’s what you don’t know, understand, or can see that can and will kill you first.

In summary, when all things relevant to mobility, handsets, platforms, and service are said and done, I only really care about best-of-class and quality. So, right now HTC appears to make the best quality handsets, and Sprint might be the best cellular service provider, and Apple might be the standard for excellence that drives all of them mad with the passion to innovate, compete and improve.

And, as I’ve mentioned in a prior post, I love it, because the death-knell for Microsoft is booming. Apple is leading Google right down Microsoft’s throat, and they are going to choke on all of it.

Apple will come and go. Perhaps like the old Bell Labs. Google has seen it’s day. Few people will be millionaires now because of it’s stock. And, that reality has also changed it’s culture – just like what happened at Microsoft. Interestingly, employees can still build wealth by owning shares of Apple.

All of that is a good thing. Because we all win. Especially if you understand: The Way Things Work.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

China and the evolution revolution – the vital difference between a trend and a fad

July30

You’ll have no choice but to relish this example of evolution, of a kind.

And, I see a global revolution, of it’s own kind advancing like a glassy-fronted wave. And, it could very well “break” (that’s a good thing from a surfers view) right here on the shores of our own country (that’s the United States, by way of reminder).

Here is the background:

The word out of Shanghai is that factory workers demanding better wages and working conditions are hastening the eventual end of an era of cheap costs that helped make southern coastal China the world’s factory floor.

My people on the ground there are advising me that a series of strikes over the past two months have been a rude wake-up call for the many foreign companies that depend on China’s low costs to compete overseas, from makers of Christmas trees to manufacturers of gadgets like the iPad.

Where once low-tech factories and scant wages were welcomed in a China eager to escape isolation and poverty, workers are now demanding a bigger share of the profits.

So… It’s revolution intersecting evolution, then.

The government, meanwhile, is pushing foreign companies to make investments in areas it believes will create greater wealth for China, like high technology.

Many companies are striving to stay profitable by shifting factories to cheaper areas farther inland or to other developing countries, and, not just a few, are even resuming production in the West.

They have little choice. Many of today’s Chinese factory workers have both a taste of western influence, and now higher ambitions than their parents, who generally saved their earnings from assembling toys and television sets for retirement in their rural hometowns. This change-oriented generation are also choosier about wages and working conditions. “The conflicts are challenging the current set-up of low-wage, low-tech manufacturing, and may catalyze the transformation of China’s industrial sector,” said Yu Hai, a sociology professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University.

Even with recent increases, wages for Chinese workers are still a fraction of those for Americans (even their distant Indian brothers). However, studies clearly indicate that China’s overall cost advantage is shrinking. That’s a trend and not a fad.

It might turn out that outsourcing, in general, was the fad.

Labor costs have been climbing about fifteen percent (15%) a year since a 2008 labor contract law that made workers more aware of their rights. It should be noted that tax preferences for foreign companies ended in 2007. Land, water, energy and shipping costs are unquestionably on the rise.

In its most recent survey, issued in February, restructuring firm Alix Partners found that, overall, China was more expensive than Mexico, India, Vietnam, Russia and Romania. We’re investigating the Philippines (but, then so are most law enforcement agencies, eh).

Makers of toys and trinkets, Christmas trees and cheap shoes already have folded by the thousands or moved away, some to Vietnam, Indonesia or Cambodia. But those countries lack the huge work force, infrastructure and markets China can offer, and most face the same labor issues as China.

Here is an opportunity, if not form of prediction:

So, ironically the evolution of our own economy may be setting the stage and create opportunities for companies around the globe to bring manufacturing and related services back to the United States. We have massive infrastructure and trained people throughout the midwest ready, willing and able to take-on the assembly line for a chance at a dignified living. Now we need our own government to step-up and incentivize companies to create another industrial revolution.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

from whence our Inspiration?

January9

“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

John 4:35

There is a hapless fellow in our community that came to me because he wanted a job. I asked him what he envisioned as his career-path over the next five years.

However, he was not interested in coaching, and only wants a: “job that pays [him] enough to go on missions and lets [him] retire at fifty-five”.

In the absence of that, he asked if I would be interested in giving him money for a Ministry that connected people in China and taught them how to play golf. I was, admittedly, skeptical, and, instead invited him to drive around Alpharetta with me to pick up bags of clothes for kids that, for example, don’t have matching shoes. NOTE: This is an effort underway through one of our Shocker Mom’s, Mary Guthrie.

He was not interested, some how, in that opportunity.

I can’t be certain from whence these people come from. But, come they do. And, I find myself drawing inspiration, of sorts, from them.

As readers of this Blog, for example, know, I’ve long evaluated many religions, and draw my actions from many of them. The Christian Bible offers that quote above from the book of John. And, it’s a reminder that, perhaps we need to be open-minded from whence we draw our inspiration, and to keep our eyes open, for all manner of opportunity.

I say this, in part, because opportunity abounds today. A current theme of my Blog, of late, has been commodities-centric. Good and bad, success and failure, are all relative. One mans misfortune may be at the hands of another’s great hopes and efforts. An example is a new “home” that was a recent short-sold house, or that purchased after a foreclosure. Of course war, and competition are other examples.

In any event, the imposing image of the above pictured canine offers critical perspective in terms of how we can see the world around us, and how we treat and relate to the gifts around us.

Pick your battles carefully. Seek truth and light. Serve where you can. Be an example.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Disclaimer: Obviously, the animal pictured above is not Rowdy – and, that is certainly  no sofa I’d have in my possession (at least in this decade).

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What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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