Friday, November 30, 2007

Zander: Victim Of The Z Curse?

Viv corners me at the water cooler.

"Gene, Zander's out at Motorola. Totally expected, you know, the Z curse."

"Hey Viv. Yeah, I guess that Android thing isn't working out for them."

"Trust me, it's the Z affliction. The only character it boosted was Zorro, and that was fiction. Reality is totally the opposite."

"Uh, no kidding?"

She plunges her herbal tea bag into hot water (Viv loves "the version 2.0" water cooler here at Piper). "Gene I've done my research on this. Didn't you get the email I sent?"

"Oh. Yeah. You bet."

She rolls her eyes and sighs. "They're all clueless Gene. Z's had to sit in the back of the class. Sad, really. Look at that Zucker guy over at NBC Universal."

"You've got something there . . . "

"And this Men's Warehouse CEO -- Zimmer. Did you see their latest quarterly report Gene?"

Strange coincidence . . . I'm eyeing the men's warehouse/refuge door over her left shoulder. I nod. "Yeah, the retail section report mentioned it."

"And then there's that Zuckerberg kid at Facebook. He's still on training wheels. He's a disaster just waiting to happen!"

The back of my neck feels prickly. Bad sign. "Viv, excuse me, I think I have an appointment in the boy's room."

"Don't believe me Gene? Why do you think ex-CEO John Zeglis had to leave AT&T Wireless? Huh? That's right, even Jobs believes in the curse of the Z! There couldn't be a deal until the Z guy left."

"Well now, that's something Viv."

"Sure Gene, it's that karma thing with Jobs. You're lucky he tolerates you."

"Right Viv."

Munster Nation Always Gets The Early Nod

For example, tipping you off about Paul's inside scoop.

Now read my prediction on the new ultra portables. Sound familiar? You know I have to tell the masses sooner or later, but blog readers will continue to get the early nod.

Oh, and about the part on the risks of closed systems, where I say: "However, we believe customers also appreciate and need simplicity. Apple and AT&T's closed system enables a user to buy the phone activate and load it with media in a few easy steps, which is made possible by the closed nature of the iPhone ecosystem."

Activate and load in a few easy steps . . . kind of reminds one of the closed ecosystem that's made the iPod wildly successful ( iPod + iTunes vertical integration), doesn't it?

Michael Dell's World

It's all about "customer-driven innovation" at Dell. "We gather requirements directly through tens of thousands of customer interactions daily, organized events, and customer panels."

OK Dell, listening to the customer will get you the small product enhancements, the incremental stuff. But the leaps occur when you aren't listening to the customer.

Jobs knows this well. Apple blocks out the 1,000 not so important things and gives the customer something they need but didn't even know they needed.

And that's one of the big cultural differences between Dell and Apple.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

3G iPhone.... and... so?

So AT&T says the 3G iPhone is coming next year... which Steve already said... but more importantly, about which Munster Nation recently received confirmation along with the ten-year roadmap.


Doug Kass

n00b deluxe.

That is all.

What would Mac-Gyver do?

Even though he grew up on the wrong side of the river, I've been a loyal fan of St. Paulie boy Richard Dean Anderson for, like, forever. Anderson played secret agent Angus MacGyver on a popular TV series, which featured his use of brains -- not brute force or violence -- to extricate himself from danger. In a recent survey Americans were asked which fictional hero they'd like to have at their side during an emergency, and MacGyver was the top choice (27%), followed by Indiana Jones (16%). Anyway, mathematics and scientific knowledge are the way we roll here at Piper too. Twenty-five feet of dental floss, a stopwatch, and the basic laws of physics can save any day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesdays Little Ironies

Google announced a new renewable energy R&D initiative . They'll be spending tens of millions in 2008 in a dedicated effort to reduce coal use in electricity generation. Meanwhile, their effort to develop their mobile OS, called Android, is a contest.

Vice President Cheney got lucky, but attempts to resuscitate Zune failed due to lack of battery power to the defibrillator paddles.

And the growth of Minneapolis as the world's financial center got rerouted today because Abu Dhabi decided to prop up Citigroup. But it's a minor diversion. We'll get those guys here eventually because we can match them on extreme temperature conditions. And we have the edge. You can always dress warmer, but you can only undress to a certain point and still go out in public.

Trying to find a place for Paul

Think the real estate market is done selling down? That's what Paul thinks, so he figures we can buy a place for him to stay for a few more months and then flip it. So he sends me this pic. It's a nice little place in Cuptertino where he can stay close to the action.

Just over a thousand square feet. Price? Try just over a million. Not kidding, see for yourself.

I don't think so Paul.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Physical Forces Favor Apple Store, But It's Not Gravity

Viv made me say "gravitational pull" even though I wanted to tell the truth (and thank goodness for this blog, where I don't have to be politically correct) about the massive centrifugal force being exerted by other stores in those malls.

What we really observed: Shoppers were actively being thrown away from other establishments (and the outward force was strongest at stores selling PCs with Vista). Judy said it was like the force that tosses bodies in a car against the outside door as it swerves around a corner, except in this case they were being tossed into the Apple stores.

Internally we're calling it the "Vista whirl and puke", because it mimics forces encountered on popular carnival rides.

No kidding, Andrew claims he saw actual physical symptoms -- bruises, weak knees, nausea, and indigestion, but relief was immediate when the shopper entered an Apple store.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today's Puzzler

Another nice piece of investigative journalism from the high school AV class . . .

Friday, November 23, 2007

Paul meets with Papa Peter

So ever since the fight with Troy and Paul's unofficial designation as honorary Mayor of Cupertino, Team Munster agreed to leave him out west for the time being. He's holed up in one of those executive hotels where you pay by the week. For the info we've been getting, it's easily worth it.

So yesterday Paul is out at one of Cupertino's local drinking establishments for Thanksgiving since he's got no family out that way. Well, who do you suppose walks in but Oppenheimer! Paul writes:

Gene, this is almost too good to be true and I hope you're sitting down. Definitely do NOT read this email on your iPhone while driving.

Peter sees me and sits down to congratulate me on the whole "kicking Troy's ass" thing and orders a round of martinis for us. Well, several rounds later I start asking him about the deferred revenue and the whole growth story and he tells me that he and Steve have been intentionally holding back Apple's growth.

Gene, I hope you're still reading this, cause you read it right. Basically boss, both the iPhone and Leopard could have been out as much as a year sooner than they were. That's not saying they were ready production-wise mind you. What I'm saying is that Steve has laid out a ten year plan for Apple and has the entire thing orchestrated for steady, controlled growth. It's mind boggling to hear Peter talk about it Gene...well and a little hard to follow cause he was pretty plastered. 

Basically it boils down to this: they were worried that if they allowed the innovation folks to run at their own pace, the growth story would be over too soon. So everything is being done in a very exacting way, from new product releases to store openings to new iPhone agreements. Everything Gene, for the next decade. It's all figured out already.

Somewhere around the fourth or fifth round he said to me, "Paul, if you think the iPhone is mind-blowing, imagine a half dozen products that make the iPhone look like Pong. Remember Pong? That's what is going on here Paul. But if we release everything too fast, people will hardly know what to do with it all. So we're going nice and easy so everyone can grasp where we are going, and we can keep growing the earnings.... and keep the story moving."

I said to him "so you mean something like the iPhone with 3G is already figured out?" He says "Paul, what the hell do you think Steve took out of his pocket at Macworld?!?!?! What do you think he's been using all these months? And that's just one example. If we let this thing go at the pace our engineers are on, consumers would probably just freak out and stop buying altogether. Customers are already holding back their purchases because they think the next version of whatever is just around the corner. They have no idea, Paul. We've got so much stuff in the wings. And we've got to keep such a tight lid on everything. This stuff could drive a man to drinking."

That's where I lost him boss. Got a pretty good bump on his head when he passed out too. Gene, I think we're going to need to consider finding me a condo out here.

Yours truly, Mayor Paul

My Thanksgiving

With some trepidation I cross the border to St. Paul. There's the usual suspects, and hugs all around.

Aunt June spies me through the crowd and saunters over. "Hiya Gene. I brought your favorite. Seven-layer salad!"

"Jeez, thanks June. Did you put it in that deep bowl, so I can only get the top three layers?"

She laughs. "Heyah Gene, you bet. Just like you like it! How's life? How's work going at that Goldman Jaffray place?"

I clear my throat. "It's Piper Jaffray. I'm a senior analyst now. I've been there twelve years."

Now Uncle Ed edges over. "You still doing that financial stuff?"

"Yep." I nod. Suddenly I need Fran's wine. Wait. I don't drink. Dang.

"Gene, you ever watch that Mad Money show? How come you don't have your own show like that Cramer guy? Is he great -- or what?"

Argh. "Yeah. We worship the guy over at Piper."

They frown in unison. That's what happens to people who've been married 40 years, I mean, it's almost scary. Anyway, Ed tries to slap me on the back, but he misses and hits my shoulder instead. "Gene, I'm just kidding, you know that. Heyah, I saw the skunk about you in Pioneer Press. The Apple thing. Don't they make computers? Boy you're on thin ice there Gene. That stock is spendy."

"It's going to $250."

June and Ed laugh. "Yah. Yah. You're a good boy Gene . . ."

But later I bring out the iPod Touch. It's good. Often I forget that most of the world hasn't seen this technology yet, and the crowd oohs and ahs as I show them cover flow, photos, and a couple videos. They are amazed at how thin it is, and then they are wowed by the touch screen. They all want to play with it. And it totally trumps Althea's show and tell, which is her new heated foot massage machine. By the end of the demo I've sold at least four Apple products. Poor Althea has to concede defeat.

Hope you all had a productive holiday like mine . . . .

Thursday, November 22, 2007

25 million iPods

That's right Munster Nation, see here.

It's going to be a big quarter friends, and once again Team Munster steps up to the plate with what seems to be an unrealistic estimate. But the others will follow eventually, they always do.

Enjoy your turkey. Tomorrow we'll see story after story about the amazing foot traffic at the Apple Stores.... and how Apple was ready.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New Vista Version

I'm hearing on good authority that Microsoft is working on yet another version of Vista in an effort to re-energize adoption. It's going to be called Vista Personal Operating System or Vista POS.

Ballmer is dead set on the name. Sources tell me Microsoft's marketing department is struggling just a little with this one. One guy thought maybe they should package it with XP:

Buy Windows XP and get a Vista POS for free!

Still doesn't have the right ring to it, for some reason.

I'm thankful for so very much.

Like chump analysts.

You bet, the clueless guys out there who make me look really good, even Double Slot. Sure, he's got a good gig going in the churning business, but he leaves a load of rotting bodies in his wake. And that's the basic difference between us. My wood chipper is for chipping wood.

I'm thankful for surveys that show 90% of Windows users are scared spitless about migrating to Vista, and 44 percent are considering a move to Macs. Of course I already knew this, but a little third-party confirm action to kick up my annual performance rating feels shamelessly good.

I'm also thankful for the sour grape rants spewing from old-guard company execs as they thrash helplessly, attempting to compete with Apple. Thanks to these guys I effortlessly add the qualitative color to my quantitative analysis, thus completing my masterwork of desperation facing off against brilliant innovation.

You bet, and thanks go to that guy who invented the fake blogging genre. Also thanks to Team Munster (Judy, Vivian, Paul, Andrew) because they make me look good every day, and thanks to all you readers who are growing your wealth and securing your retirements and building futures for your families.

Have a great holiday!

P.S. Thanks for the invite

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A is for Apple

now starring on the Piper Alpha list ahead of MacWorld.

Andrew thinks we should an Omega list for the dogs. I said I'd pass that idea up the chain.

Meanwhile Viv is grumbling about somebody pimping candy-colored Zunes the past few days -- some guy encroaching on her Zune Business-Horror story turf.

Did I mention that corn is on sale?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cough: iPhone to cannibalize Mac sales.

Looking back through old scans I found this chump analysis, posted four months ago. You bet, I don't see a followup explaining why Mac sales are through the roof post-iPhone release. And he doesn't think iPhone competes with cell phones, because he overheard "a vice president of a rather large supposedly best cellular network" saying so.

Does anybody really listen to these noobs?

Proof that Warren Buffett reads my blog

So, the Piper pool top pick for CEO of Citi is A-Rod. Now Buffet is working overtime to get him signed up with the Yankees.

Coincidence? I think not.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Competitive Intelligence Team Memo

To: Gene
From: Viv and Judy
Re: Microsoft Zune Spin

It's making us dizzy! Gene, take a look at this.

One Microsoft source says the 80GB Zune is hard to find due to "high demand". But another Microsoft insider says it's a manufacturing problem. Then the Zune senior product management director says it's a "prioritization" issue.

Who's driving the bus at Microsoft?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Paul Becomes Mayor of Cupertino

OK, he's more like the honorary mayor, but still.

Decking Troy Wolverton earned Paul the undying gratitude of Apple city. The locals, mostly Apple employees, are doing some hearty backslapping while buying him drinks and offering their women. OK, so maybe not the women thing (Paul exaggerates -- even without the black eye he isn't exactly a comely guy), but it's darn good, or so he says in today's report.

Even better, he's finally getting some real data, says he's hearing chatter about the sub notebooks, stuff like this Asus . Do you think they could replace that Asus logo with an Apple and load on the Leopard? Heck, it's already white like the Macbook.

Anyway, Paul hears this will sell for around $400 to $700. At this price, and the two pound weight (highly-portable), schools might even buy into providing one for each child.

Oh, and the Google phone thing -- just noise.

Anyone seen anything from Troy lately?

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to Build Software with Cheap Labor and no Bennies

Viv brought this to my attention.

It used to be that a company would use customer/third-party developer ideas to upgrade software products -- NOT to build them in the first place.

But if you've pre-announced a new product, so suddenly you're in a bind to add some real functionality and a decent user interface to the system . . . oh, what to do, what to do?

The answer for Google is: Start a contest!

What frustrated braingeek wouldn't jump on this opportunity to mold Android 1.0 ? Five thousand hours and 213 pizzas (sausage and black olive), an hourly rate to compete with Indian outsourcing? Sign me up! Then it's on to Phase II, where Google takes the beauty contest winners and loads them onto the first handsets, oh, sometime around the end of 2008.

The rumor going around is that Jobs pimped this idea to Google CEO Eric Schmidt during an Apple board meeting after Schmidt griped that Apple was hiring all the best software engineers. According to the scuttlebutt, Jobs convinced Schmidt the contest idea would lure the remaining talented and creative self-starter types left rotting in the dungeons up in Redmond.

Hmmm, it could work, but Viv says not to upgrade the stock on it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ruht-roh: Merrill Lynch and Citi don't have succession plans

and CEOs are being fired faster than you can say subprime fiasco. So, anyway, they're thrashing around down in the mailroom trying to find a guy with good hair.

Did I say I'd have to wait for global warming to flood New York for Minneapolis to become the financial center of the world? Naw, these guys are sinking themselves.

Anyway, Judy thought it would be fun to start an office pool to choose new CEOs for these beleaguered firms. The positions are wiiiide open. You bet, this is more fun than the high school hockey tournament bets, and these pools are the traditional way we redistribute the wealth here at the Piper offices.

Judy's Pool rules:

A) the candidate must be available to immediately occupy the position, and
B) the candidate must be AT LEAST as competent as the exiting leadership.
So far the best pick is Alex Rodriguez to replace Chuck Prince. He's a free agent, and Citigroup can match his salary demands at the same rate they were compensating Prince (about $30 million a year which includes stock options). He's a proven performer (over .300 batting average, which has gotta be better than the guessing that most CEOs do), already a good team player, and not many people can hit a major league fast ball -- so that makes him a quick thinker with a good eye for detail. Citigroup hasn't made big inroads in the hispanic market, and this should definitely help. AND he's passed the drug tests.

The favorite pick for Merrill Lynch is Britney Spears. Admittedly this is an odd pick to me, but she has massive media relations experience, is a veteran of crisis management (shaved head, custody battles), has already been through rehab, has the well-documented spending habits of a CEO, lives her life with complete transparency, and is generally known as the "comeback queen".

Anyway, I'm wavering on the Britney pick. Other suggestions from Munster Nation?

Paul Gets in a Fight with Troy

So Paul logs onto iChat from his SF hotel, and for a second I wonder if Apple has added a new effect to iChat Theater called "Black Eye."

Me: Uh, Paul, you OK?

Paul: Great Gene! Never better actually, why do you ask?

Me: Well, that left eye of yours is looking a little... different.

Paul: Oh that. Yeah well I sorta got sucker punched last night.

Me: OK.....

Paul: Well, I was out at one of the local techie watering holes last night, and who do I see lurking but Troy Wolverton. He was wearing shades.... trying to lay low and pick up some scoop I suppose. So anyways I call him over to the bar. One thing leads to another, and next thing I know he pops me one as I was reaching for my beer.

Me: Wow, Paul that's awful. What did you say to him that ticked him off?

Paul: Oh, just the truth. You know, how he is desperate for readers so he constantly makes stuff up about Apple... and maybe something regarding his mother not being married, I dunno.

Me: Well, I'm sorry you got hurt.

Paul: Oh don't worry about it Gene, I'm fine, really. Troy however might be... well, he might be staying home for a while.


Paul: Gene I had to defend myself! I'm not sure exactly what I did anyway Gene. Your training just sort of takes over, ya know? He was on the ground pretty quickly, wailing like a stuck pig.... mighta been a few teeth laying about. 

Me: Ohhh.

Paul: But that's not all! When his glasses came off someone else shouted, "hey it's that bastard Wolverton" and all these tech nerds dragged him into the bathroom for a half hour's worth of swirly treatment. And everyone starting buying me drinks. I had a great night!

Me: Well Paul, I'm glad you're OK. Maybe you should just get the next flight home.

Paul: Are you kidding? I'm a hero out here now! And people are talking! With any luck someone will help me get inside One Infinite Loop.

Me: OK, no more talking to reporters!

Paul: Who said anything about a reporter boss? -grins-

Friday, November 9, 2007

What is this I see?

So I'm at the grocery market today, and what do I see? 

Corn is on sale again!!

The last time I told you corn was on sale, at the end of July, did you load up the cart?

I sure hope so. Anyway, remember I can't give you any investment advice here, but I can tell you when stuff is on sale at the market. And brother, corn is on sale.

Now, you might want to make a few trips rather than loading your cart all at once. Who knows maybe they'll mark it down again.

Happy shopping.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Enderle Group death watch begins and assorted Team Munster news items

So Andrew leads the Trademarked Catch-Phrase Patrol (TCPP), but of course that's when he's not working the Paparrazi Distractor Task Force, and he found this article with a quote from a poser named Rob Enderle, where the guy says "the Google phone is a game changer". Munster Nation is initiating a class action suit.

Paul landed in San Francisco yesterday afternoon. He'll be using SF as a base. I told him to check out the Apple Store. He says there's a spy store he wants to check out as well.

Viv thinks she can still salvage her Google book. She plans to spin the 33 partners deal into a read that's steamier than a Finnish sauna.

And Judy's right -- the market is cattywampus.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Chump Targets

Apple is running through the noob analyst targets like a hot knife through butter. Jeez, at least mine are good for a couple months.

Anyway, Judy thinks it's time for another upgrade. In her quick-analysis memo she writes "the markets are cattywampus but Apple will prevail".

Gotta love that insider lingo.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I'm sending Paul to Cupertino

Paul is my number one recon person in the office. He's sneaky and fearless. Well, and a little temperamental and his ties are just above "suck" status but you can't have it all.

Lately I've been getting the feeling that things are a little too quiet right now. I mean, Apple's in the news every day as usual, but I don't know... I've just got this feeling that they've got one more thing up their sleeve this year, and I want to know what that is.

So anyway I'm sending Paul out to Cupertino. Best case scenario he gets inside a few Infinite Loop buildings and gets some scoop. Worst case he gets arrested. But at this point it's a risk we need to take. Munster Nation deserves the best intel (no pun intended... well OK maybe a little) and we're going to get it for you.

Stay tuned.

It's a boy, no it's a girl...oh wait, it's an android!

You guessed it. This newly-announced Google phone operating system wreaks havoc with Viv's book plan. Viv says robots don't have G-spots. Of course this spells doom for her debut in the new Business/Erotica category.

So Viv's been thrown into another infinite loop. Now she's saying they deliberately changed the name to stymie her efforts. And she's peeved because I mentioned the book here on the blog, and she's convinced that's how it all leaked to Google management.

You bet, my Samarai team skills are working to mitigate the productivity loss for Team Munster this week.

Anyway, suggestions from readers with experience in like situations would be greatly appreciated. She was mumbling something about me sleeping with my eyes open....

Hey Moritz!

Where ya been pal?

Got any more hot tips for us on new products from Apple?




Sunday, November 4, 2007

Shawn has me on the show

Shawn asked me to be on the Your Mac Life Show again. Gave the details behind Team Munster's iPhone revenue sharing estimate. 15% of Apple's profit in two years time. How's that work for y'all? Also gave some scoop on the Team Munster channel checking, including Viv's snooping techniques (she's fluent in Mandarin) at the Soho store.

Check it out.

I also had this quote all planned out, and dropped it in perfectly: 

Two years ago when you bought a mac you had to explain to your friends what you were doing, and today when you buy a PC you have some explaining to do.

God that's good stuff, I must say. And hey Shawn, aapl will close at $205 in November pal.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

New Button

So I decide to give Phil Schiller a call cause it's been a while since he's given me any scoop.

Well, not much to say unfortunately. I guess Steve is REALLY clamping down, more than ever, if you can believe that. But I did get one little thing.

iPhone's getting a new button.

Yep. What is it you ask? Well let me ask you something: Can you guess what it's going to do?

P.S. Don't tell Steve I've posted this. It's Munster Nation's little secret.

Sobering Thoughts

This is like shooting fish in a barrel. First to roll was O'Neal at Merrill. He choked up the largest quarterly loss in company history -- a $7.9 billion write-down in CDOs and subprime mortgages -- after "Scorched-Earth" Stan had announced it would be a paltry $4.5 billion. Do you think they could use a few competent financial analysts over there?

Now it's Chuck Prince over at Citigroup. Another chump CEO. He can't wait to get out -- he's offering to fall on his sword at an emergency board meeting on Sunday.

Next in the queue: James Cayne over at Bear Stearns.

Where are the hordes with pitchforks and torches who were incensed over options backdating -- a scandal which now looks like penny-ante poker in the boys room?

And here's some pay for performance: The O'Neals and Princes will take the severance packages. Nope, they never turn down the parting gifts.