The Great Debate UK

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.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are almost certain to be hot sellers when they become available on Sept. 19. The 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models level the playing field between Apple and its larger-screened Android competitors. The processor and camera improvements are impressive. And the user interface changes the company showed off were promising.

Like the iPhone 5c and 5s, though, there's no question about which model Apple is favoring. The advantages of the iPhone 6 Plus over the iPhone 6 go well beyond the screen size. The 6 Plus's optical image stabilization (versus less effective digital stabilization) and a significantly better battery life will be strong drivers to the more expensive model, something that should make investors happy.

What the new normal looks like

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After a crisis the most unusual thing can be that things remain the same. For example, apart from media stories of doom and gloom, by and large if you managed to keep your job then the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and ensuing financial crisis may not have affected you acutely and life may have, more or less, gone on in the same fashion albeit with a bit more banker bashing than before.

Change as a result of a crisis can take years to manifest itself into a tangible difference. But five years after the financial crisis, and three years after European sovereign debt implosion, some of the long-term market and psychological effects are finally starting to be felt. Here are a few examples:

from The Great Debate:

Apple: ‘Early adopter’ as fashionista

To much fanfare, Apple announced Tuesday that Angela Ahrendts is resigning as chief executive officer of Burberry and joining the inner circle in Cupertino, California. “Apple-polishing” has become the headline du jour. Picturing the soignée Ahrendts surrounded by geeks in jeans and hoodies, we might be forgiven for wondering why Apple feels in need of a fashionista buff-up. After all, there is hardly a product line more shiny-bright than Apple’s -- or one with less affinity to the cold exclusivity of the world’s great fashion houses.

But the extraordinary affection that iPhones inspire is different from the anxious ostentation surrounding high fashion.

Apple attempts to become fashionable

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The UK lost one of only three female CEOs on the FTSE 100 on Tuesday, as Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts quit. My concerns about females at the top aside, the interesting thing about Apple’s new hire is the link between Apple and fashion and what it tells us about the evolution of the tech industry.

Ahrendts is a smart choice to become the head of retail and online stores for Apple. Firstly, her marketing skills are second to none. During her tenure at Burberry she has completely transformed the consumer experience at the iconic British brand. The stores are beautiful. The central London branches are styled just as well as the brand’s catwalk stars; they look more like a high-end boutique hotel in Paris or Milan than a high street shop.

Is a low corporate tax rate really in Ireland’s benefit?

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–Kathleen Brooks is research director at forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.–

The tax affairs of Apple and Google have brought attention onto Ireland for all the wrong reasons of late. Ireland’s reputation has undeniably been dragged through the mud as the corporate tax affairs of some of the world’s largest companies come under scrutiny in Westminster and Capitol Hill.

Why we are not witnessing a tech boom

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By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.

The words ‘tech bubble’ have been bandied about since the Apple share price really started to climb at the end of 2011. Earlier this month, its market capitalisation hit $600 billion dollars, only the second company to see its market cap get that high. So it appears like everyone wants a bite out of the proverbial apple.

There is a dangerous precedent for markets’ believing that tech stocks can only go in one direction. The dotcom bubble back in 2000 caused havoc in the equity markets and also contributed to the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates incredibly low, one of the contributing factors to the housing crisis in 2007.

from The Great Debate:

How Apple, and everyone, can solve the sweatshop problem

Every few years brings us another sweatshop offender. In the 1990s it was Disney, and then Nike and Gap. The 2000s brought us Wal-Mart. The past few weeks Apple has been in the crosshairs.

One question is of paramount importance: How can we use this current public conversation to finally drive a different outcome? What must companies do so that 15 years after Kathie Lee Gifford tearfully became the first sweatshop poster child, workers who make and grow products for global consumers are paid fairly, protected from danger and free to advocate for themselves without fear of reprisal?

from The Great Debate:

Jobs made Apple great by ignoring profit

By Clayton Christensen and James Allworth
The opinions expressed are their own.

Steve Jobs retires as the CEO of Apple with a reputation that will place him amongst the pantheon of history's great global business leaders. Many people have written about what makes Jobs and Apple special, but I think they’re missing what truly set him apart. Jobs has succeeded by eschewing the one thing that most people view as the raison d'être for companies -- profit.

When I left the industry to come to academia 22 years ago, it was driven by a set of questions that had troubled me for some time. Why was it that the best run companies in the world -- companies that have had incredibly smart leaders, following carefully detailed plans and with tremendous execution ability -- reliably seem to come unstuck? The answer to this question is what has become known as the theory of disruption.

from Breakingviews:

Microsoft ought to kick off search for Bing buyer

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

NEW YORK -- Microsoft needs to concentrate on a different kind of search: finding a buyer for Bing, its online search business. The industry's distant number two is a distraction for the software giant -- and one that costs shareholders dearly. The division that houses Bing lost $2.6 billion in the latest fiscal year. Facebook, or even Apple, might make a better home for Bing. And a sale would be a boon for Microsoft's investors.

from MacroScope:

The iPod – the iCon of Chinese capitalism

Walking past Apple's sleek shop along London's Regent Street on Sunday, my wife asked me what I wanted for Father's Day.

"An iPad?" I ventured, half-jokingly.

"Are you sure you want one? Don't you care how they're made?" came her disapproving reply.

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