Technology Stock Roundup: Of AAPL iPhones and MSFT Music - Analyst Blog

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Last week, Apple ( AAPL ) launched its new iPhones, while Microsoft ( MSFT ) took its Xbox Music to rival devices.

Apple Doesn't Need a New iPhone

The long-awaited new iPhones launched last week, sending Apple shares crashing. This is not the first time that an iPhone launch negatively impacted share prices. In fact, as Dan Gallagher of marketwatch.com pointed out, share prices have declined after the announcement in three of the preceding five years. But let's see what's different this time round.

First, the smartphone market in developed countries is getting saturated and Apple is having a hard time attracting new buyers. Second, the iPhone is a premium product in a difficult economic backdrop with many competing products and it will get increasingly difficult to get carriers to subsidize. Third, Apple's marketing efforts leave a lot to be desired.

On the other hand, these factors have created the perfect background for underdog branding, a concept that was very effectively used by Avis ( CAR ) to take its market share from 11% to 35% back in the 1960s. Avis used the slogan "We're number two, so we try harder." Today, "Avis" is a premium brand, and the company's value services are sold under the "Budget" brand.

The problem with Apple is it is pulling down its own brand. Today, first-time smartphone users have many options and Apple needs to tell them very loudly "Why Apple - Why iPhone?" Instead it is saying "We also do plastics." It's true that a phone is a commodity item and price erosion and progressively stiffer competition should be expected. But it's also true that you can't succeed by apologizing for who you are, or worse, if you increasingly don't know who you are any more.

Microsoft Will Share Its Music

Microsoft has announced that Xbox Music is now available across operating systems, devices and through free streaming on the Web. First launched roughly a year ago, Xbox Music is an all-in-one service, combining subscription streaming Spotify-style, Web radio Pandora ( P )-style and individual track purchases iTunes-style. The new Xbox Music apps that make the expansion possible are now available for download from the Apple App Store and Google ( GOOG ) Play Store.

The app allows saving of favorites and playlists across devices and will soon be able to create custom playlists, artist-based radio stations, offline listening and download-to-own. Additionally, Xbox One users will for the first time be able to listen to music while playing games.

The expansion is a big deal for the music service, since Microsoft has less than a 4% share of the mobile device market, which is where all the action is. With the expansion, Xbox Music gets an entry into the rest of the market. Music consumption patterns have changed radically over the last few years and Microsoft's service is now catching up.

Whether it catches on or not is a different story and its devices strategy will likely play an important role. We already have the Google ecosystem and the Apple ecosystem and it's good to see Microsoft taking action to create the Microsoft ecosystem. There's a humongous amount of work to be done, of course, but the fact that Microsoft is showing some direction is encouraging.

Intel Everywhere

At the Intel Developers Conference (IDF) held last week, Intel ( INTC ) displayed yet again how it remains the technology leader. It said that 22nm chips were already shipping and 14nm would ship by year-end. It also remains on track for further shrinks over the next few years (in keeping with the tick-tock strategy).

The resultant decline in costs means better margins for Intel, while the increased computing power and energy efficiency means better functionality for customers. Intel is now getting inside not just PCs, notebooks and ultrabooks, but also tablets and chromebooks. It is working closely with both Google and Microsoft and this year will see a huge volume and variety of Intel-powered devices run by competing operating systems. In short, Intel plans to be everywhere.

On that note, the company president Renee James described the evolution of computing through three stages - task-based, lifestyle-based and integrated computing. As the names suggest, Intel was the leader in the task-based or desktop computing phase and successfully defended its market for years. It was so successful in fact that it was almost complacent, nearly missing the current phase that is to do with lifestyle (computing where you want it).

But there are indications that this phase will give way to the next, when everything in the world (medical devices, home appliances, industrial automation, wearable computing, etc) will be connected and intelligent. And Intel promises to play a leading role in that evolution.

Company

Last Week

Last  6 Months

AAPL

-8.17%

+4.79%

FB

-0.85%

+66.27%

YHOO

+3.25%

+32.58%

GOOG

+0.34%

+9.18%

MSFT

+5.56%

+17.80%

INTC

+2.63%

+9.64%

CSCO

+2.71%

+10.90%

Other stories you may have missed-

Twitter goes public

Dell goes private : Dell ( DELL ) shareholders voted in favor of Michael Dell's privatization plan (to close in 3Q14) and will be rewarded with $13.75 a share plus a 13 cent dividend. The process became easier after activist investor Carl Icahn withdrew from the fight.

Molex ( MOLX ) to be acquired

Hewlett Packard ( HPQ ) launches new Chromebook

Yahoo ( YHOO ) launches Screen App : Yahoo launched a video controlling app called Yahoo Screen for iOS; channel swiping and episode switching have never been easier. It simultaneously entered into an agreement with Viacom to offer clips from popular Comedy Central shows through the app. Comedy works, especially in small doses, and especially when the device on which you're watching is hand-held. Yahoo hasn't said if and when the app will be available for Google's Android.

Cisco ( CSCO ) Acquires Whiptail : Cisco forked out $415 million to acquire solid-state virtual-memory system maker Whiptail. Cisco will integrate the technology to improve the speed and efficiency of its Unified Computing System (UCS), which bundles servers, storage and networking products for data centers. Getting serious about SSD storage for the enterprise is a first for Cisco, but the acquisition is timely and represents a multi-billion dollar opportunity.

Western Digital ( WDC ) buys Virident

Yahoo Users (And Shares) Jump : CEO Marissa Mayer said that Yahoo's user base (ex-Tumblr) has grown 20% since she took over in July last year. Comscore recently said that monthly active users of Yahoo properties surpassed Google's, so this doesn't come as much of a surprise. But the CEO warned that the turnaround plan (i.e. the impact on revenue) involves three years of patience. In the meantime, investors may be able to cash in on the Alibaba IPO.

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APPLE INC (AAPL): Free Stock Analysis Report

AVIS BUDGET GRP (CAR): Free Stock Analysis Report

CISCO SYSTEMS (CSCO): Free Stock Analysis Report

DELL INC (DELL): Free Stock Analysis Report

GOOGLE INC-CL A (GOOG): Free Stock Analysis Report

HEWLETT PACKARD (HPQ): Free Stock Analysis Report

INTEL CORP (INTC): Free Stock Analysis Report

MOLEX INC (MOLX): Free Stock Analysis Report

MICROSOFT CORP (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report

PANDORA MEDIA (P): Free Stock Analysis Report

WESTERN DIGITAL (WDC): Free Stock Analysis Report

YAHOO! INC (YHOO): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , CAR , CSCO , DELL , GOOG

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