You Bet Apple TV Is Coming, Says Apple Guru Gene Munster — Here Are The Details

November 30, 2011

The good news is all this talk is going to encourage the TV manufacturers to simply panic …..

Apple analyst Gene Munster just reiterated his belief that Apple is going to launch a TV next year.

He made the comments at our IGNITION: Future of Media conference this morning.

In fact, Gene is so sure an Apple TV is coming that he told anyone in the audience who is thinking of buying a TV to wait, because Apple’s is going to be awesome.

Some details:

  • Gene thinks the Apple TV will be a full-fledged TV set, not an external gadget like the current Apple TV that you have to plug into your TV set.
  • This is because Apple thinks people hate to plug in external gadgets (and Apple is obviously right about that, though it will still be startling if people are willing to pay a huge premium for an Apple TV just to avoid plugging in a $100 gadget).
  • Gene thinks Apple TVs will come in a range of sizes, in contrast to most Apple products, which are one-size-fits-all.  Part of Apple’s goal here, Gene says, will be to appeal to young Apple fanatics who can’t afford or don’t have room for a 50-inch flat screen.
  • Gene thinks Apple’s TVs will be priced at TWICE the prevailing market price for a normal TV: $1,600, for example, for a TV of a similar size from another manufacturer that might cost $800. (If this is really the case, Apple will be able to preserve its extraordinary profit margins).
  • The magic of Apple’s TV, Gene says, will be seamless integration with your other Apple devices and service. The TV will come with a standard remote, but you’ll also be able to control it with your iPhone or iPad or via Siri.  You’ll also be able to download console and other games, content, etc., from iTunes, the App Store, and iCloud.
  • Apple’s TV, Gene says, will be the first TV that thinks the way you do. Instead of trying to remember what channel is ESPN is on, for example, you’ll just fire up (or say) “ESPN.”
  • You’ll still have to have a cable subscription and cable box, Gene says, because Apple doesn’t have enough content otherwise.  But the only thing you’ll have to do is screw the co-ax cable into the back of the TV set.
  • Gene thinks Apple will launch its TVs for the holiday season next year. That’s what our assumption has been as well.

SEE ALSO: Apple’s Product Rollout Schedule

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Poll: Newt Gingrich dominates GOP pack in Florida

November 30, 2011

With the primaries and caucuses quickly approaching, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich continues to demonstrate his surging popularity in several early primary states. In the latest Insider Advantage poll of likely Florida Republican presidential primary voters, Gingrich pulled in 41 percent of the votes to finish in first place. Gingrich defeated former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney by 24 percentage points. While Romney garnered 17 percent of the votes, pizza magnate Herman Cain earned 13 percent of the votes to take third place. Texas Governor Rick Perry finished in fourth place with 7 percent of the votes.

Gingrich won the latest Insider Advantage polls of likely Iowa Republican presidential caucusgoers and likely South Carolina Republican presidential primary voters Tuesday. In the Iowa poll, Gingrich garnered 28 percent of the votes, placing the Georgia businessman 15 percentage points ahead of Texas Congressman Ron Paul. In the South Carolina poll, Gingrich pulled in 38 percent of the votes, placing the former House speaker 23 percentage points ahead of Romney.

According to Real Clear Politics, Gingrich leads by an average of 8.2 points in Iowa polls and by an average of 8.6 points in South Carolina polls. Given that the first caucus is in Iowa on January 3, followed by the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, Gingrich is likely to win two out of the first three major competitions of the 2012 presidential race.

Q3 Productivity Revised Down To 2.3%…

November 30, 2011

The rebound in U.S. nonfarm productivity growth was not as strong as previously estimated in the third quarter, while wages declined for two straight quarters, supporting the Federal Reserve’s views of moderate inflation pressures.

Productivity increased at a 2.3 percent annual rate, the Labor Department said on Wednesday, a downward revision to its previous estimate of 3.1 percent.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, being revised down to a 2.6 percent growth rate. The revision reflects a much slower gross domestic product growth pace during the July-September period.

Productivity fell at a 0.1 percent pace in the second quarter.

Compared to the third quarter of last year, productivity increased 0.9 percent instead of 1.1 percent.

The government last week cut its third-quarter GDP  growth estimates to 2.0 percent from 2.5 percent.

Though productivity has slowed after growing rapidly as the economy emerged from the 2007-09 recession, businesses have maintained the bulk of the gains made during the recovery.

Hmmm, maybe the economy never came out of the Recession?

#Occupy Goes Bust?

November 30, 2011

Two months after it began, the movement is giving every sign of running out of steam. Recent protests have been resounding flops, public support is slipping, and even Democrats are reluctant to embrace the movement. Despite all their high tech swagger ….

Even in it’s heyday, the media hyping and all that, the movement was tiny com[ared to the Tea Party …

Some recent #Occupy failures:

Black Friday Protest. Occupy Black Friday planned to dampen sales at publicly traded retailers on the biggest shopping day of the year to “hit corporations that corrupt and control American politics where it hurts.” It was a bust. Just four showed up that morning at a New York City Macy’s, for example, and only two dozen protested at downtown San Francisco stores. Meanwhile, Black Friday sales climbed 7% to a record high and the S&P Retail Index on Monday had its best one-day percentage gain since August.

UC Davis Strike. Occupiers promised a general strike at the University of California-Davis Monday to protest tuition hikes, with the goal of shutting down the campus. The strike never happened, and classes went on as scheduled.

Shutting Wall Street. Movement organizers planned a massive “street carnival” on its two-month anniversary Nov. 17, promising at least 10,000 would attend and “shut down Wall Street.” Only about 1,000 showed up and Wall Street business went on as usual. Other “day of action” events around the country attracted only a small number of protesters.

Student Debt Campaign. The Occupy Student Debt campaign is trying to enlist one million people to default on their student loans to protest the rising cost of colleges. So far, just over 1,700 have signed the online pledge, according to its website.

With city governments clearing out many Occupy camps, including Occupy LA early Wednesday morning, it’s now unclear if the movement will have any meaningful presence at all in the near future.

phhhtttt …

Carter vs Reagan

November 30, 2011

You think the media was any friendlier to R. Reagan than today? Think again … Reagan was too controversial, too extreme, way to conservative to ever get elected President. And if that wasn’t enough, Reagan would drop nukes on the old Soviet empire.

Two weeks before the 1980 election the media polls averaged out too about a 47 – 39, in favor of Carter. So Reagan was toast said media the polls. Done finished. Kaput …

And in the end, the real election results were so bad for Carter that he folded early.

One of the enduring truisms of American politics has been that an incumbent President wields all but overwhelming political power. This axiom holds that almost any challenge to a President has only the barest chance of succeeding. But this pattern may be changing. In the case of Jimmy Carter, his incumbency—and the fact that he is thus blamed for every national problem—may be his biggest electoral handicap. Carter lost not by a few points, but by a landslide. Two weeks out, the polls favored Carter, 47-39.

Reagan’s landslide challenges the pulse-taker profession.

For weeks before the presidential election, the gurus of public opinion polling were nearly unanimous in their findings. In survey after survey, they agreed that the coming choice between President Jimmy Carter and Challenger Ronald Reagan was “too close to call.” A few points at most, they said, separated the two major contenders.

But when the votes were counted, the former California Governor had defeated Carter by a margin of 51% to 41% in the popular vote – a rout for a U.S. presidential race. In the electoral college, the Reagan victory was a 10-to-l avalanche that left the President holding only six states and the District of Columbia.

After being so right for so long about presidential elections – the pollsters’ findings had closely agreed with the voting results for most of the past 30 years -how could the surveys have been so wrong? The question is far more than technical. The spreading use of polls by the press and television has an important, if unmeasurable, effect on how voters perceive the candidates and the campaign, creating a kind of synergistic effect: the more a candidate rises in the polls, the more voters seem to take him seriously.

According to yesterday’s Gallup poll, Obama trails Carter by 9, at the same point in their terms of office.

New Pictures Of China’s Aircraft Carrier Putting Out To Sea

November 30, 2011

China's Refurbished Soviet Aircraft Carrier

China’s new aircraft carrier, the refurbished Soviet Varyag, has been rechristened the Shi Lang and took another cruise Tuesday.

DefenseTech blog put up the following photos showing the carrier as it makes its second voyage, though this one unaccompanied by the numerous tugs from its August debut (via Alert 5). DefenseTech points out the absence of a wake, and that in the following shot a tow-line is visible from her stern. The comments at DefenseTech offer a glimpse into various ideas and considerations about the carrier’s potential.

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Fitch Rating Turn Negative On USA

November 30, 2011

On the domestic front, last night Fitch lowered its U.S. credit outlook to negative, blaming the Super Committee’s failure to agree on a plan to reduce the budget deficit by $1.2 trillion. The negative outlook implies a 50% chance of a downgrade within two years.

Haha, Obama reelection strategy gets expensive for the USA.

Heritage Explains: Big Labor Drags American Airlines into Bankruptcy

November 30, 2011

After months of speculation, AMR Corp, the parent of American Airlines, filed chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning. The stock dived 80.9% to 33 cents per share.  For now, the airline will continue to operate as usual, and it will also be honoring frequent flyer miles.

American Airlines announced today that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, making it the final large U.S. full-fare airline to seek court protection from creditors. One of the primary reasons? American is at a disadvantage because of high labor costs, proving that in a competitive economy, unions can’t do much for their members without sending companies into bankruptcy.

American had struggled after 9/11 to avoid heading to bankruptcy as its rivals did in the hopes of securing favorable contract agreements with labor unions. The unions though, had other ideas. Among their demands: Pilots wanted a 10 percent signing bonus followed by 7 percent raises in each of the next three years–massive raises in the midst of a miserable economy.

Meanwhile, Delta, United, and US Airways are all operating with huge concessions on wages, benefits and work rules for pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and ground workers won through bankruptcy proceedings, as The Wall Street Journal reports.

In the most recent negotiations, American offered job protection, signing bonuses, and pay raises to the tune of a 3.21 percent raise in the first year—taken as a lump sum, a structural rate increase, or a combination—followed by three annual boosts of 1 percent each. In turn, American asked for changes to pension benefits and increased productivity. But that wasn’t enough. As Bloomberg reports, union negotiators sought not to help keep the company afloat but to win back earlier concessions:

American was embroiled in negotiations with unions for all of its major work groups as far back as 2006, seeking to boost employee productivity and erase part of what it said was an $800 million labor-cost disadvantage to other carriers.

The airline’s pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and baggage handlers wanted to use the contract talks to regain some of the $1.6 billion in annual concessions they gave in 2003 to help the company avoid bankruptcy.

In the end, American’s efforts didn’t work. Last year, it was the only major U.S. airline to lose money—$471 million in net losses—whereas Delta had net earnings of $593 million and United earned $854 million, according to the Journal. Now, because American couldn’t cut labor costs and remain competitive with other airlines, it has no choice but to enter bankruptcy protection. In short, labor leaders ultimately forced American’s hand, and their behavior—and the resulting consequences—are entirely consistent with how unions work. Heritage’s James Sherk explains:

Unions function as labor cartels. A labor cartel restricts the number of workers in a company or industry to drive up the remaining workers’ wages, just as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries attempts to cut the supply of oil to raise its price. Companies pass on those higher wages to consumers through higher prices, and often they also earn lower profits … [but a] cartel can charge higher prices only as long as it remains a monopoly. If consumers can buy elsewhere, a company must cut its prices or go out of business.… With competition, the union cartel breaks down, and unions cannot force consumers to pay higher prices or capture higher wages for their members.

In this case, American’s unsustainable losses forced bankruptcy, which in turn could have a negative impact on creditors, employees, retirees, shareholders, and consumers. And though American may emerge stronger after bankruptcy, it will not be without a steep price paid by all parties involved.

Obama’s Job Approval Drops Below Carter’s

November 29, 2011

President Obama’s slow ride down Gallup’s daily presidential job approval index has finally passed below Jimmy Carter, earning Obama the worst job approval rating of any president at this stage of his term in modern political history.

Since March, Obama’s job approval rating has hovered above Carter’s, considered among the 20th century’s worst presidents, but today Obama’s punctured Carter’s dismal job approval line. On their comparison chart, Gallup put Obama’s job approval rating at 43 percent compared to Carter’s 51 percent.

Back in 1979, Carter was far below Obama until the Iran hostage crisis, eerily being duplicated in Tehran today with Iranian protesters storming the British embassy. The early days of the crisis helped Carter’s ratings, though his failure to win the release of captured Americans, coupled with a bad economy, led to his defeat by Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Pulling Sales From IPad, E-readers

November 29, 2011

Kindle Fire is drawing away sales from Apple’s (AAPL) iPad, other tablets and e-readers, ChangeWave Research said Monday.

Among consumers who plan to buy a Kindle Fire, 23% put on hold or canceled plans to buy an Apple iPad and 9% did the same for other tablets, a ChangeWave survey shows.

But Amazon also is cannibalizing the e-reader market, where it dominates. Of consumers planning to get a Kindle Fire, 12% said they put off or canceled getting an Amazon Kindle e-reader and 5% did the same for the Barnes & Noble (BKS) Nook e-reader, ChangeWave said.

The presence of the $199 Kindle Fire on the market also could mean fewer notebook PCs being sold this holiday season. The survey indicates that 7% of Kindle Fire buyers are delaying or canceling plans to get a laptop. PC manufacturers have said the Apple iPad has cut into demand for notebooks overall.

“This is the holiday season of the tablet,” said ChangeWave analyst Paul Carton. “It’s going to outperform any other electronic item on sale over the holidays.”

The most important purchase factors for Kindle Fire buyers were price (75%) and e-reading features (22%).

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