Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Eaten By The Apple

Lots of folks have opinions on Apple (AAPL), or at least on its products. I've been enthusiastic on Apple's platform while merciless in exposing the ineptness of Apple's online services, so I can see both sides.

In this post, I want to share some firms that seem to have had a decidedly bad experience with Apple.

So Sorry Sony:
Sony, of Walkman fame and a major seller of music on compact disc, cut forward guidance as it reported poor profits for the quarter. The fate of Sony's rumored buyout of the Sony BMG Music Entertainment stake it does not yet own remains "undecided" as CD sales fall. Sony's non-CD sales haven't exactly done particularly well, either, sadly, as the ATRAC format is dead and the store closed. And Sony's cell phone joint venture with Ericsson isn't doing all that well for some reason ... where's Spider-Man when you need him?

After predicting sales of 20 million Windows Mobile licenses in fiscal 2008, Microsoft misses its sales target, and not just because of iPhone competition: hardware partners seemed to let Microsoft down. Sound familiar?

Sprinting to a pant:
Sprint Nextel Corp. reported a loss in its second quarter, and warned of a bleak next quarter. The good news? "Its Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone imitator, Instinct, has sold out in Sprint stores." via CNN. Sprint would be one of the U.S. carriers that didn't beat out AT&T for a service exclusivity arrangement with Apple.

Once "extremely pleased" by iPhone activation, Synchronoss is finding itself locked out of the party as activations for iPhone 3G have moved in-store. The poor sods were forked: if they announced in May they expected profit to fall, they'd break their NDA with Apple; but by not announcing it ahead of the June 11 iPhone update, they were clobbered by surprised and disappointed exiting shareholders. This is a firm that really wasn't asking to be kicked, and I feel for the poor bastards. The next time I hear Apple described as a one-trick pony, though, I'll be thinking about these guys.

Motorola has been too easy to pick on after its CTO predicted the iPhone would flop. (The direct link isn't helpful because the CTO didn't have the staying power of the iPhone she blasted as "a stretch.") The fun part is that Motorola can be cast as a turnaround story: the MOT profit surprise ... is that there's a profit at all. The once-leader in the mobile space -- an American tech company able to sell hardware into Japan, no less -- seems to be suffering now in a fiercely-competitive mobile phone market. Although it's profiting for the nonce, will MOT reverse its share loss trend?

It'd be unsportsmanlike to point out software firms clobbered by Apple decisions to compete with the little guys' main products, when there are companies you've actually heard of suffering from competition against Apple's products and platforms. I'll call this round-up done for now. However, if you spot a winner (loser) that seems weakened by encounters with what may be the best-recognized fruit company, feel free to drop me a line!

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