Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tech.Analysis: Will AAPL split?

Tech.Analysis: Will AAPL split?

In a recent Reuters article reported by Steve James, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is looking to update the index to “the 21st century market.” They speculate that adding stocks like AAPL or GOOG will keep the Dow relevant. Apple is the world most valuable company and adding the stock to the DJI would probably overwhelm the average. At $603 a share (as of 4/27), AAPL would weigh too much on the Dow but if the stock were to split 5:1 or even 10:1 making each share $121 or $60 respectively, AAPL could be a welcomed update to the aging index.

Barrons notes that while a lower price would break the weighting issues of a $600 share, Apple has not split since 2005.

I on the other hand believe that AAPL’s split is not impossible: in the current post-Steve Jobs era, a 5:1 split may actually occur. Jobs enjoyed keeping Apple products and stock at a premium. Tim Cook, Job’s successor, has already introduced a dividend reinvestment plan for the next 8 quarters, a fiscal policy Steve Jobs never would have implemented.

Regardless of being added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Apple should split their stock. With targets near $1000 in the next 18 months, the stock will become psychologically too expensive. A price of $1000 makes the stock unattractive to many investors. Also, think of the benefits of a cheaper stock price: it will open up an entire new sector of buyers, it could reduce the day-to-day volatility, and it would encourage re-investment.

AAPL’s rise over the past 5 years has been remarkable and while a high, $1000 premium stock price is enticing, a large split would reward long-term investors and continue Apple’s amazing growth.

[Images via Google Finance and Apple, Reuters]

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Now.Desired: Brydge iPad Keyboard

Now.Desired: Brydge iPad Keyboard

There are a bunch of iPad keyboard cases on the market but nothing has caught my eye like the Brydge. This precision cut, Macbook-like aluminum design is stunning, clean, and well-made. The case features an impressive 180 degree clamp that securely latches onto your iPad using a series of magnets and plastics. There’s even a model with a secondary speaker.

I used a ClamCase in my note-intensive classes last semester and was frustrated by its cheap plastic keys and smaller than normal keyboard layout. Additionally, it was a case that made removing and inserting the iPad difficult. The Brydge appears to have fixed these issues through the patent pending clamp and the machine cut keyboard.

While connecting a keyboard to your iPad may seem to defeat the purpose of buying a tablet over a laptop, having this type of configuration allows you to use your iPad as a tablet for most of the day but attach a keyboard for that class with lots of lecture slides.

[Brydge via Kickstarter]

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Now.Desired: Google Drive

Now.Desired: Google Drive

A few hours ago Google announced Google Drive: a major challenger to Dropbox and other cloud based storage systems. Google Drive allows a user to save, share, and access a file anywhere on any internet connected computer, tablet, or phone.

With Google Drive, using an iPad as your primary computer becomes entirely possible: with all your files from your computer migrated to the cloud they are accessible but don’t use up precious space on your tablet. Additionally, the built in apps (like Photoshop, a music and HD movie player…) make your files accessible on tablets or other computers that do not have those programs installed. A Google Drive app will be available for both iOS and Android.

Google is offering 5GB of data free, 25GB for a monthly fee of $2.50 ($30 a year), 100GB for $5 a month ($60 a year) and 1 beautiful TB of space for $50 a month (or $600 a year!).

Tech.Analysis: Vertical Integration and Microsoft

Tech.Analysis: Vertical Integration and Microsoft

Apple has been championed as a shining example of successul vertical integration in regards to their iPhone and iPad production. Vertical integration simply means that a significant percentage of the supply chain in the creation of a product is under the control of one company. Apple designs the software and hardware for their devices. This allows Apple to optimize the processor, RAM, and other hardware specs perfectly to their in-house software. By designing the hardware and software in tandem, Apple can install just the right amount of processor power and battery capacity for the bundled software which can cut costs of the overall product. Additionally, vertical integration allows Apple to control the supply chain for their products and plan for interruptions or changes. They are less impacted by sector-wide part shortages and supply shocks.

Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility in August is most likely an attempt to imitate Apple’s successful vertical model. The Android OS is currently designed by Google to fit many different phone models from HTC, LG, Samsung, and others. This discontinuity means that in some circumstances the hardware has superfluous computing power in comparison to the capabilities of the installed version of Android. The average user subsequently pays more for a phone with insane specs which the OS doesn’t really need to function well. Google is expected to not only use their acquisition of Motorola to create a single perfected phone, but also to further Google TV through Google-engineered Motorola set-top boxes.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone software is aesthetically inviting, has great exchange support, and overall the OS is fairly streamlined. However, most of the Windows Phone handsets are clunky and flawed. Some have tiny screens, others from HTC are too big. Speed, build quality, camera performance, and phone design vary among the many models detracting from the overall brand of a “Windows Phone.” The Nokia Lumia 900 is a great example of a beautiful phone (perhaps the sharpest on the market) with significant hardware/software limitations that will prevent Windows Phone 7.5 from becoming a true threat to Android or iOS. Windows Phone does not support dual or quad core processors. This means no threaded multitasking and lower performance. The software limits the screen resolution to 800×480 which makes competing with the Apple Retina Display impossible. The Lumia 900 is also a fortune unlocked.

Apple has proven that companies make their money selling the actual phone, not licensing their software. Google is already preparing for this transition (as shown in their purchase of Motorola) and if Microsoft continues to treat the mobile sphere like the OS licensed desktop computer market, Windows Phone wont reach its true potential. Windows 8 Metro looks fantastic but without an affordable and Microsoft optimized tablet to complement the software, it has no realistic shot at the iPad.

Apple’s vertical integration model is dominating the tech sector. Google is already making the necessary changes to compete. It’s time to build hardware Microsoft.

[Image via Techsling]

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Now.Desired: Sony Bluetooth Earbuds (HSH-IS800)

Now.Desired: Sony Bluetooth Earbuds (HSH-IS800)

Check out these very small Sony Bluetooth earbuds that will wirelessly pair with your phone or MP3 player! The HBH-IS800 charges through a tiny port on one of the earbuds and while the audio quality has been reviewed to be quite average, and the battery life sub-par, the size and convenience of cutting the cord might make these buds worth the $79 price tag.

[Photo via Sony]

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Now.Desired: CloudFTP

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CloudFTP is a solution for sharing data from USB to iOS and Android devices. Basically, any USB storage device can be plugged into this battery powered device making it a wireless drive. Through a web app (and eventually a dedicated iOS and Android app) the user can access a Mac OSX finder-like interface and access or save files from the drive on mobile devices.

[CloudFTP via Kickstarter]

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Tech.Analysis: Why Apple Needs to Update the 30 Pin Dock Connector

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Apple introduced the 30 pin dock connector with the third generation iPod in 2003. Since then, the dock design has yet to change, except for small internal modifications to support new features like video out. It’s time for a redesign.

Apple and Intel introduced the small, speedy Thunderbolt port with the latest Macbooks. With speeds up to 20 Gbits/second, this 8 by 5 milimeter plug supports video, USB, and even audio. While the current iPhone lacks the PCI hardware requirements to meet advertised Thunderbolt data transfer speeds, an adapted, slightly slower PCI chip that would not take up too much additional space would still be extraordinary addition to Apple’s future devices.

Apple’s design team is limited by the size and placement of the 30 pin dock connector. With a new, modified Thunderbolt port, Apple could make the next iPhone thinner and sleeker (tapered edges?) while offering faster iTunes syncing speeds.

So far I have considered the implications of reducing the size of the dock connector but imagine a futuristic unibody device without any ports or jacks. Apple has already shown signs that this may be their ultimate goal: iOS 5 brought functioning Wi-Fi iTunes syncing, iCloud backups, Photostream, and computer-free activations. Inductive charging (like the HP Touchstone dock) has eliminated the need for tethered power cords and faster Wi-Fi speeds have made transferring large files “over the air” entirely possible. The implications of these technologies could allow future designers to create 100% sealed phones (assuming non-permeable speakers) that use inductive charging pads and Bluetooth headphones. A perfectly enclosed phone would not only have the structural integrity of a brick, but it could also be water-proof.

It’s been almost 9 years since the current iDevice 30 pin dock was introduced. Although it would be annoying to have to use an adapter or replace existing 30 pin accessories, it is time for Apple to reclaim the precious space used up by the excessively large 30 pin port and introduce a faster and smaller Thunderbolt-like dock.

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Tech.Analysis: Intuitive Surgical [NASDAQ:ISRG]

TechAnalysis: Intuitive Surgical [NASDAQ:ISRG]

Surgery is already a nerve-wracking experience. How about surgery performed by a robot? How about surgery performed by a robot that’s remotely controlled from thousands of miles away? Well, this could be the future.

Firms such as Intuitive Surgical, Integrated Surgical Systems Inc (ISS), and The Acrobot Company, have invented surgical robots to function as new instruments for surgeons to maneuver in their procedures. However, this isn’t as cutting edge as you think. Systems like ISS’s Robodoc and Casper have been operating for years and have successfully aided surgeons in hip replacement surgery as early as the 1980’s. The Acrobot, a computer robot that uses radiographic imaging to devise an optimal operative location not only pre-establishes the operation site, but the robotic arms actually perform the surgery based on the surgeon’s hand motions. Similarly, Intuitive Surgical’s Da Vinci robot uses real-time virtualization to create three-dimensional models for the surgeon to view while performing the operation through the robot’s precise instruments.

These robotic instruments have revolutionized how laparoscopic surgery is performed, but they may have an even larger implementation in the future of healthcare.

Intuitive Surgical’s Da Vinci is controlled via a surgeon console. The patient lies flat on an operating table below a chandelier of robotic arms while the surgeon sits feet away, index fingers and thumbs fitted through “Endo-wrist” controls and eyes pressed against a three dimensional HD screen. The Da Vinci not only provides the surgeon with a precise 360-degree range of motion, but the robot immerses the doctor within the virtual world of the patient’s body.

In the not-too-distant future, I believe the implication of virtual spaces through the internet could bring medical specialization to locations all around the globe. Radiology has already become a largely outsourced skill where doctors in the United States and radiologists in places like India and Asia are able to share MRI or CT scan images via the web. In other words, it’s like Xbox live for your doctor. He or she can connect to anyone in the world in order to save lives.

Right now robotic surgeries are performed with the surgeon and patient in the same room. What connects the doctor to the patient is a single cord and, in theory, this cord can be hundreds, even thousands, of miles longer. As mentioned in Urologic Robotic Surgery in Clinical Practice, experiments of remote tele-surgery at distances of 300 meters have already been successful at Johns Hopkins Hospital. With increasing internet bandwidth and enhanced reliability, robotic operations could hypothetically be performed through the internet. The most experienced robotic prostatectomy surgeon functioning out of the United States could operate through the internet on a patient in Indonesia. Virtual operations could bring advanced, specialized healthcare to remote locations around the globe. Imagine the humanitarian implications!

Of course, the patient wouldn’t be alone in the operating room. One caveat to tele-surgery is that a trained surgeon would still need to be on hand at the receiving end of the operation. No matter how advanced technology gets, computers malfunction. It’s for this reason that supervision would be necessary. Like it or not, this could be the future of medicine. Specialized robotic surgery is no longer something straight out of the sci-fi channel, but something we could face the next time we go under.

[Image via http://www.intuitivesurgical.com/]

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Tech.Tips: Crescendo Ringtones

TechTips: Crescendo Ringtones

Having your phone ring loudly in public can be embarrassing and annoying. Instead of immediately blaring at full volume, ringtones should crescendo/grow louder with time. When sitting in a class, movie, or any other large public place, if your phone incrementally got louder, you’d have an opportunity to silence the call before it becomes a real disturbance.

To make a crescendoing ringtone for your iPhone on a Mac, simply drag the song/sound you are using from iTunes onto your desktop, then into Garage Band. Click the small downward pointing arrow on the right-hand pannel. Using the “track volume” automations, drag a ramp-like volume level starting at mute growing to full volume (like the photo included in the gallery). The steepness of the line indicates how fast the volume will increase. Make sure the audio clip is under 30 seconds (you can trim the clip by clicking the whole song, placing the red play-line where you want the song to start or end and then, Edit–>”Split”). Finally, from the menu bar, click “Share” and “Send Ringtone to iTunes.” Sync up your iPhone and you’re good to go.

Now the next time you’re sitting in class and you forget to switch your phone to vibrate, you will have a bit of a warning before the full volume of the ringtone interrupts your professor’s super interesting discussion.

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Now.Desired: iPUP

NowDesired: iPUP

Designed by Yun Seong Kim, this iPhone case concept allows the user to store NFC credit cards and other plastics in a slit behind their phone. With a protective card, the iPUP is able to keep those sensitive magnetic strips from the effects of your iPhone’s electromagnetic field. I can see this being convenient at the gym or even replacing my wallet on lighter days when I’m low on cash. [Yun Kim via YankoDesign] http://www.yankodesign.com/2012/02/27/ipup/

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