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from Breakingviews:

Apple cooks up recipe to empty pockets and wallets

By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Apple has cooked up a recipe for emptying pockets and wallets. In addition to unveiling two new smartphones, the tech giant has combined a fingerprint sensor and an overlooked app into an iPhone payment system that looks secure and easy to use. A new watch lacks obvious appeal but has potential to replace car keys and other pocket detritus. Higher profits may be the cherry on top.

The latest smartphone names – iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus – won’t wow anyone. But the devices boast goodies like bigger screens, longer battery life and a faster processor. That should be enough to attract new customers and entice Apple fans into an upgrade.

The big news is the payments app, Apple Pay. The company’s fingerprint scanner always seemed a cool technology looking for a use. And the Apple Passbook application for storing airplane boarding passes and coupons also languished on screens. The combination of the two, however, is greater than the sum of the parts.

from The Great Debate:

iPhone 6, Apple Watch and Tim Cook all impress, but questions remain

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Tim Cook has had his first Steve Jobs moment.

With Tuesday's introduction of the new iPhone 6 line, Apple Pay and Apple Watch, the company’s CEO escaped the public shadow of his revered predecessor. Now the question is: Can he deliver in the same impressive fashion?

The early signs indicate he just might. While Apple's presentations are usually packed with an amen chorus of fans and tech journalists, the details the company revealed about its next line of phones, its new payment processing system and upcoming smart watch gave a clear sign that Apple is not becoming stagnant, as so many critics had feared.

from The Great Debate:

iPhone 6: What does Apple have to reveal Tuesday to stay on top?

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It's been a while since we've had a true 'Apple moment' at one of its press events. Tuesday’s expected introduction of the iPhone 6 (and possibly more) could end that drought.

All signs indicate Apple plans to come out swinging this time — determined to regain the attention of former customers who have drifted toward larger Android devices in recent years.

from The Great Debate:

Tuesday’s big iPhone 6 question: Is Apple done leading from behind?

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For the last few years, Apple’s iPhones have been a little like the U.S. role in the war against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya — leading from behind.

When cell phones were 3G, the iPhone was 2G. When cell phones were 4G, the iPhone was 3G.

from Counterparties:

MORNING BID – The quiet days for Apple

Apple’s been the two-ton behemoth of the stock market for so long that it is going to be surprising, in a way, to see that the company isn’t really pulling its weight anymore when it comes to its percentage of S&P 500 earnings. This sort of thing can be a bit silly, but Howard Silverblatt, the index guru over at S&P Dow Jones, points out that Apple right now is about 3.2 percent of the total market value of the S&P while at the same time accounting for an expected 2.8 percent of earnings in the S&P – the first time since 2008 that Apple hasn’t delivered a percentage of S&P earnings equivalent to its market value.

In the past few years, Apple has tended to carry much of the S&P on its back, such as in the fourth quarter of 2011 and first quarter of 2012, when it accounted for 6 percent and 5.2 percent of the index’s earnings – compared with accounting for about 4.4 percent of the market’s value at that time. In the last quarter of 2012 the stock was 6.3 percent of the market’s earnings and was less than 4 percent of its market value.

from Alison Frankel:

The weird proviso in Apple’s e-books settlement

There’s a very unusual sentence near the beginning of the letter that class action lawyer Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro sent Monday to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote of Manhattan. Cote is presiding over the consolidated antitrust litigation in which the Justice Department, 33 U.S. states and territories and a class of book purchasers have accused Apple of conspiring with publishers to fix e-book prices. A year ago, after a bench trial of the Justice Department’s case, Cote found Apple liable for violating federal antitrust law. Since then, the company has been pursuing an appeal of the liability decision at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals while continuing to battle with the states and private plaintiffs in Cote's courtroom.

Berman’s letter on Monday informed the judge that Apple has agreed to a binding settlement with the consumer class and the states. But there’s a catch, he wrote: “Any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will be contingent on the outcome of that appeal.”

from Alison Frankel:

Lesson from the smartphone wars: Litigation is not a business plan

After almost five years of suing each other in courts in the United States and Europe over patents on mobile devices, Apple and Google abruptly announced Friday night that they've called a ceasefire: They're dropping all of the litigation. They're not even making a deal to cross-license one another's IP, just declaring a truce and walking away.

Apple has not yet settled with Samsung, the device manufacturer that most successfully employs Google's Android operating system, so the two companies haven't entirely resolved their dispute; evidence from the recently concluded patent infringement trial between Apple and Samsung in San Jose, Calif., revealed that Google is paying at least part of Samsung's defense costs. (The Korea Times reported Monday that Apple and Samsung are in global settlement talks.) Until there's a Samsung deal, two law professors, Brian Love of Santa Clara University and Michael Risch of Villanova told Bloomberg, the Google settlement is more important as a symbol than for any actual impact.

from Breakingviews:

Interpreting Apple/Beats using Andreessenomics

By Richard Beales
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Attachment therapy is controversial in the field of mental health. It’s far from indisputable in the technology world, too. Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen justifies some high tech-deal price tags, in part, with the idea that huge companies are able to “attach” the products of smaller ones, making them worth far more than traditional analysis would suggest.

from Breakingviews:

Mini-me tech bubble is mere shadow of 2000 excess

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The latest mini-me internet bubble is a mere shadow of the excesses that came crashing to an end in 2000. Sure, even though the run-up may have paused, the feverish signs are unmistakable. Dozens of companies are in line to float, hubris is rampant, oddball valuation metrics abound, and revenue-free startups are still worth fortunes. Even nerd culture has somehow become hip. The latest boom is as absurd as the last, but it’s far smaller.

from Edward Hadas:

Apple’s many magic tricks

Apple is in the news for borrowing $12 billion this week, even though it has $151 billion of cash on its balance sheet. The financial legerdemain will keep the technology giant’s tax bill down. It also is suitable for a company whose business model has long looked more like a magic act than a traditional corporate drama.

Of course, Apple has, or had, one of the necessary attributes of any successful enterprise: a strong competitive advantage. The California company’s edge comes from a synergistic mix of design expertise, marketing genius and supply chain mastery.

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