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Empowering Women Through Technology

WIT: Women sent Silicon Valley a message. Will it listen?

 

 

By Peggy Drexler

“Peggy Drexler is the author of “Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family” and “Raising Boys Without Men.” She is an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.”

Could it be that the tide is turning when it comes to men and women in the American workplace?

Hot on the heels of Uber chief Travis Kalanick’s resignation in the wake of various sexual assault scandals at his company, Binary Capital has announced that co-founder Justin Caldbeck is on indefinite leave after multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual advances — allegations that have been reportedly accumulating for years.

Peggy Drexler

Caldbeck’s leave comes just before the Silicon Valley firm was set to embark on a new round of fundraising, stunning news to the venture capital community. Just as stunning: How quickly Caldbeck went from denying the allegations (and calling them “attacks on my character”) to acknowledging them by apologizing directly to his accusers, and even calling out his community as a whole on the issue of sexual harassment and a culture of toxic masculinity in Silicon Valley founder circles. Over the weekend, Caldbeck issued a statement expressing “regret over causing anyone to feel uncomfortable. … There’s no denying this is an issue in the venture community, and I hate that my behavior has contributed to it.”

The message in all this? When it comes to unwanted sexual advances of any kind, or in any context, women are becoming less likely to suffer in silence.
Uber — and an essay by former Uber employee Susan Fowler — is a major and very visible reason for this unwillingness to stay quiet. Kalanick’s resignation was a major step forward in the fight against workplace harassment, particularly in the tech community, where it has been rampant for years. A 2016 survey reported that 60% of women in Silicon Valley have been sexually harassed. Kalanick’s downfall began in earnest when Fowler posted her experiences to her personal blog in February. That essay, in which she described a manager who was looking for women to have sex with, and an HR department that didn’t respond to repeated complaints, launched an internal investigation at Uber and ultimately paved the way to Kalanick’s ouster.

Fowler, of course, was not the first woman to call out the tech industry for its mistreatment of women. Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao spoke about sexism in a piece in Lena Dunham’s Lenny after losing a gender discrimination case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. Fowler wasn’t even the first to write about mistreatment at Uber. But just as many women called out such workplace assaults, many still saw it as an unfortunate byproduct of working in a male-dominated, financially male-controlled industry.

In the case of Caldbeck, his position as venture capitalist meant he had the power to fund, or not fund, companies, creating an already-imbalanced dynamic for the female founders who came to him seeking support — an imbalance, it seems, he eagerly sought to take advantage of and which female founders felt powerless to resist.

But, perhaps, not anymore. The ripple effect after Kalanick’s resignation has been significant and impactful, an acknowledgment that the treatment of women does matter and proving that one woman’s story can make a difference. There will be more Caldbecks in the months to come, and that’s because more women will feel empowered and emboldened to speak up. That’s not to say the problem is solved: As Fowler has pointed out, bad behavior will still be enabled by confidentiality agreements and forced arbitration — this, in tech and elsewhere — and there will be men who think themselves powerful enough to be immune to charges of impropriety.

But there will also be fewer women who are unclear that such moves are an abuse and fewer women who will decide to let it go. Will would-be harassers take note? It’s too soon to tell. Though his publicists now insist this won’t be happening, it wasn’t especially encouraging last week to hear Bill Cosby’s spokesman talking about the possibility of Cosby going around speaking to men on how to avoid being accused of sexual assault and harassment. (Here’s a tip: Don’t sexually harass.) But it’s clear that many are listening. Women certainly are.

App of the Week: Truebill

The App That Will Save You Hundreds Of Dollars

 

 

By Brian Rashid of Forbes

Sadly, some companies do not have your financial best interest in mind.
Companies that operate with the popular subscription-based model may be charging you money without you knowing. This could be in the form of hidden fees, by making it difficult for you to cancel a subscription, or even by signing you up for recurring payments when you make a one-time purchase.

Yahya Mokhtarzada realized the prominence of this problem when he was charged sneaky fees for in-flight wifi he had signed up for months ago. Annoyed, he did his homework and found that this situation is very common.

 

He teamed up with his brother, Idris, and founded Truebill, an app that detects and monitors recurring subscriptions.

Not only does Truebill identify these payments, but it allows users to cancel unwanted ones with a single click. The app goes a step further to ensure that the subscription is canceled by monitoring the user’s bank account the following month. In the event that the company did not follow through on the cancellation, Truebill will contact them and give the user a refund. Best of all, this service is completely free – an incredible price considering the average Truebill user saves $512 a year.

Let’s look at a real life example of their service. Imagine a user signed up for a gym membership in a city she no longer lives in. She realizes that she still being charged and wants to cancel. She calls the gym and finds out that the gym requires her to cancel in person. If not, she will have to mail a Certified Letter. With Truebill, she can easily cancel with one click on the app. Then, Truebill ensures her subscription is canceled by monitoring her bank account for charges the following month. If the gym charges her again, Truebill will automatically contact the gym to get her a refund.

In addition to saving users money, peace of mind is of the utmost importance to the Truebill team. They understand the reluctance of giving a stranger access to your financial data and use only the strongest security protocol. They do not share user data with other companies and use read-only algorithms when scanning user information.

Truebill is not anti-subscription. In fact, they educate the user on popular subscriptions with reviews on their website and recommend new ones that will increase the user experience. Truebill is, however, anti-subscription mismanagement. They believe that as payments become more automated with subscriptions, the user’s way of managing them should also become more automated.

Further, Truebill continues to increase the user experience by creating more features. They recently launched a tool that monitors subscriptions and warns the user if a price goes up. As the list of features continues to grow, the real value of TrueBill will remain, the awareness of where your money is going and what to do if you are not happy with that figure.

With our world moving toward automating, it is likely that the subscription-based model will continue to be popular. Brothers, Yahya and Idris, envision that everyone has complete control of their finances in this digital world. At just over a year old with over 150,000 users signed up, they are off to a great start.

What’s your favorite money management app? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: Use Airdrop to share Media on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

 

 

By Conner Carey of iPhone Life Magazine

Airdrop on iPhone is one of the easiest ways to quickly share files, photos, and more between devices. You can Airdrop photos from your iPad to your friend’s iPhone or Airdrop photos from your iPhone to your Mac computer for an easy transfer. You can also Airdrop from iPhone to iPhone. As long as you have relatively recent devices running on an updated operating system, you’re probably already setup to use Airdrop. We’ll cover what Airdrop is below, as well as how to turn Airdrop on, how it works, and how to use Airdrop whether you’re on iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Once you know how to use Airdrop, you’ll never go back.

What Is Airdrop?

So, what is Airdrop, exactly? Airdrop is an Apple-made feature that allows you to wirelessly transfer media between your iOS and Mac devices. You can Airdrop your own files between your devices for easily being able to work with media across the board, but you can also Airdrop a photo to a friend if they are nearby, which is faster and involves less fuss than sending it via messages or email. It’s one of the most painless Apple continuity features, meaning it’s easy to use and works exactly as it should.

How Does Airdrop Work?

“AirDrop uses Bluetooth to create a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network between the devices. Each device creates a firewall around the connection and files are sent encrypted, which actually makes it safer than transferring via email,” according to Lifewire. Airdrop looks for nearby devices to create this network with. And it can look decently far; so if you’re a couple rooms away from someone, you’ll probably still be able to Airdrop them files.
Despite using a Bluetooth connection to make this work, Airdrop is incredibly fast. When you Airdrop media, it will alert the other person immediately, and they’ll be able to accept what you’ve sent.

 

Will My Device Work with Airdrop?

If you have an iPhone 5 or later, an iPad 4 or iPad Mini or later, an iPod Touch 5, or a Mac released in 2010 and beyond, you should be able to use Airdrop with no problems. Your Mac must be running at least OS X Lion. And if your iPhone is running anything older than iOS 9, you’re simply doing it wrong (update your phones!).

How to Turn On Airdrop

Airdrop is accessed via Control Center. To turn on Airdrop:
• Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to open Control Center.
• Tap Airdrop.
• You’ll see three options: Receiving Off, Contacts Only, and Everyone.
• To turn Airdrop off, you would select Receiving Off.

 

 

 

• If you only want to receive Airdrops from people in your contacts, tap Contacts Only.
• If you’re okay with receiving Airdrops from anyone nearby, tap Everyone.
Even if you select Everyone, you can choose to reject an Airdrop you don’t want to receive when it’s sent to you.

How to Use Airdrop

Anytime you go to Share something (document, picture, etc) on iPhone, you’ll see the option to Airdrop it at the top of the Share menu. You can share files from your iCloud Drive, pictures from the Photos app, songs you’ve found on Apple Music, recordings from Voice Memos, and much more. If you see the option, you can Airdrop that media.

How to Airdrop Photos & Other Files on iPhone or iPad

 

This process will work regardless of what you’re sharing. Once you’ve tapped the Share icon, the other steps are the same. For example, in iCloud Drive, you can tap on a document, then tap the Share icon and follow the steps. For this example, we’ll show how to Airdrop photos from an iPhone to Mac. You could also Airdrop from iPhone to iPhone, or to iPad, whether yours or someone elses that’s nearby.

• To Airdrop a photo specifically, open the Photos app.
• You can tap Select to easily mass select photos to Airdrop. Or tap on an individual photo you want to share.
• Then tap the Share icon that’s located in the lower left corner of your iPhone.

 

 

• Near the top of the Share menu, you’ll see Tap to share with Airdrop. Below that any available devices to receive your Airdrop will appear.
• In this case, you can see that my Macbook is the only device nearby that I can send these photos to. When I’m in the office, however, I can see icons for many of my coworkers working in about a  thirty-foot vicinity of me.
• To Airdrop your photos (or other media), tap the device you want to send them to.

 

 

If you’re sending the photos to a device of yours, they’ll automatically download and save to your device. If you’re sending the photos to someone else, they’ll receive a notification that you’re trying to Airdrop them something. They can then Accept or Decline it. Remember, these same steps apply to other media. It doesn’t have to be photos that you’re sending.

How to Airdrop on Mac

 

On Mac, you can Airdrop any media or file to other Macs or iOS devices, whether yours or someone else’s’. To do so, you’ll simply open Finder, locate the items you want to share, and Airdrop them. Here’s how in detail:

• Open Finder on your Mac.
• Locate the media and files you want to share. Select them. Hold down the Command key on your Mac keyboard to select multiple.
• Right click on the highlighted items you want to share.

 

• If nothing is showing up, wake up the device you’re sending the items to and unlock it. Once you’ve done that, the device should appear as an option.
• Tap on their name and device to send it.

 

Same rules apply as above: if you send the items to a device you own, they’ll automatically download and save to your device. If you’re Airdropping files or media to someone else, the recipient will get a notification that you’re trying to Airdrop them something. They can then Accept or Decline it.

Airdrop Troubleshooting Tips from Apple

 

“If you can’t see the person or the device that you’re trying to AirDrop to, check the following:

• Check that both of you have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on. If either of you have Personal Hotspot on, turn it off.
• Make sure that the person you’re sending to is nearby. You can’t AirDrop to users who are out of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi range.
• If the other person’s AirDrop receiving setting is set to Contacts Only, and you’re not in their Contacts, have them set their AirDrop receiving setting to Everyone.”

That’s it! Now you’re ready to use Airdrop. It’s truly one of Apple’s best features. I used it to share all the screenshots for this article from my iPhone to my Mac. It has advantage over other methods because it’s fast and can handle large amounts of media and files. Welcome to the world of Airdropping on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer. Enjoy!

WIT: How the ‘Sheryl Sandberg of Mexico’ is inspiring women in tech

 

 Photo Caption Source: Softtek

Blanca Trevino of Softtek offers one of the most competitive training and certification programs among IT companies in Mexico.

If you think the glass ceiling for women in tech is tough in the United States, take a look at the challenges they face in Mexico, Latin America and other developing countries. For many the obstacles may seem insurmountable, but not for Blanca Trevino, the co-founder, president and CEO of Softtek, a Mexican unicorn that is the largest IT vendor in Latin America.

Since founding Softtek in 1982, Trevino has helped build a far-flung global empire that offers application software development, security and other IT solutions to more than 300 corporations in more than 20 countries. And it generates more than $500 million in annual revenue. This she and her partners accomplished without venture capital, by bootstrapping and plowing all profits back into the company to foster growth.


At the same time, she has worked hard to elevate women in the IT workplace and has proved to be a role model for those looking for leadership roles in a male-dominated industry. A board member of Wal-Mart Mexico and the prominent Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), her success formula is simple: “Don’t focus on the obstacles you face, but focus on the skills and talents you bring to the field. It’s all about mind-set.”

That wisdom is sorely needed when you consider gender gap in computing jobs has gotten worse in the last 30 years, even as computer science job opportunities expand rapidly, according to new research from Accenture and Girls Who Code. In 1984, 37 percent of computer science majors in the United States were women, but that number dropped to 18 percent in 2014, according to the study. The computing industry’s rate of U.S. job creation is three times the national average, but if trends continue, the study estimates that women will hold only 20 percent of computing jobs by 2025.

In Latin America the situation is worse, experts say. While 44 percent of all science positions — including social sciences — in the region are held by women, they are underrepresented in science, technology and engineering, according to UNESCO.

Trevino has witnessed the trend since her humble beginnings. Back in the mid-’80s it was very uncommon for women in Mexico to go to college and work in the IT field. But the tide is shifting. Now the graduating class of information technology majors at ITESM are 35 percent to 40 percent women, she says, adding, “One thing that’s changed is that there are female role models — such as Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook — who have been able to make it. This gives women confidence they too can succeed.”

Today women make up about 14 percent of executive-level jobs in the technology industry, according to the Anita Borg Institute. The organization says women are frequently pushed into softer technical roles that rarely lead to senior and executive positions.

The best advice Trevino can give to aspiring women looking to launch a technology start-up?

1. Start by developing a big idea and commit to it.
2. Don’t spend timing thinking about obstacles; instead, focus on your strengths.
3. Find great partners. It is easier to start a business if you share your dream with someone else. As a woman who often has to juggle work and family, having a support system can help you boost the odds of your success.

 

What do you want to see more of with regards to Women in Tech? Leave us your suggestions in the comments below!

App of the Week: The 6 best new features in iOS 11

 

By Ashley Carman of The Verge

Apple unveiled iOS 11 during its Worldwide Developers Conference this week, and while it might not feature an overhauled Messages app like last year, the company’s smaller but iterative changes add functionality that some users might have always wanted. Do Not Disturb While Driving, for example, mutes notifications when your iPhone thinks you’re moving. It’ll auto-reply to your texts, too, which is a welcome feature after other companies, like Samsung, introduced a similar product.

The whole App Store is undergoing a redesign, as well, so that’s cool.
We compiled a couple lists of all the features we learned from the WWDC keynote, and now we’re narrowing them down to the things that we’re most excited about. These are the six best new features coming with iOS 11.

YOU CAN PAY FRIENDS WITH APPLE PAY

This could be huge. Users can pay someone via an iMessage or tell Siri to pay someone by using a credit or debit card that’s stored in their Wallet. Once they’re paid, this money goes into an Apple Pay Cash account and can be sent to other people or used to buy something in stores through Apple Pay. It can also be transferred to a bank account.

Now, your friends have to be on iOS for this to work, so it doesn’t have the exact appeal of Venmo or Square Cash, but still, the idea of sending money through Messages instead of a third-party app is appealing. I imagine some people likely won’t switch, simply because they’ve already set up a solid network on Venmo and have a workflow. For those who haven’t, or don’t like the social network part of that service, this is a nice opportunity to try something else.

Siri will be able to translate English words and phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian, or Spanish. Apple demoed this functionality during its keynote. Google Assistant already does this, so while Apple’s playing catch-up with this feature, it’s still nice to have. We don’t know how well it works, but the idea of going to China and having Siri translate a phrase for me is great, especially if I don’t have to navigate to the Google Assistant app and can instead access Siri straight from my home button.

AUTOMATIC APP DELETION

 

iOS 11 will launch with the option to automatically delete apps you never use through a feature called Offload Unused Apps. Basically when you’re running low on storage, the feature will get rid of apps you infrequently use while retaining related documents and data so you can always get the app back. A tap on the app’s grayed-out icon will restore it. Owners of 16GB iPhones can celebrate this, although if you’re using a ton of apps, I’m not sure how much it’ll really help storage issues.

NEW CONTROL CENTER

The new Control Center is getting a lot of flack for how overwhelming it could potentially look, but I’m psyched to have everything in one place. You can customize the control screen to your needs, like having an Apple TV widget or stopwatch access. This is slightly reminiscent of Android, and will probably be useful so long as you don’t go too crazy with shortcuts and basically turn it into a second home screen.

 

IPAD MULTITASKING AND REDESIGNED DOCK

The iPad is going to act a lot more like a Mac. With iOS 11, we’ll be able to customize our docks with apps we use most frequently. Plus, we can multitask with up to three apps running at once, side by side. A new Files app will also let users store data locally and access it straight from the device, just like a Mac. The Verge’s Vlad Savov pointed out this week that the iPad is increasingly becoming a device that could replace a computer. This is welcome news, especially for people who might be using their iPad at work.

SCREEN CAPTURE

Apple didn’t even mention that iOS 11 would allow for easy screen capturing during WWDC, but developers messing around with the beta release gave us a peek. You’ll be able to screen record right from the new Control Center to capture whatever you do. Share away.

What features of iOS 11 are you the most excited about? Tell us in the comments below!

How to: switch between list view and honeycomb app grid on Apple Watch with watchOS 4

 

 

By Benjamin Mayo of 9to5 Mac


With watchOS 4, Apple is offering an alternative to the honeycomb screen used to display your Apple Watch apps. The honeycomb view lays out the circular watch app icons in a hexagonal grid with a focus on the middle of the display, and a miniature clock in the center.

The honeycomb design is not universally beloved but it has been the only option for Apple Watch users to date. With watchOS 4, Apple is adding list mode which sorts apps into an alphabetical scrolling view. Here’s how to enable it …
watchOS 4 has many improvements to core functionality including new Siri, Kaleidoscope and Toy Story watch face options, motivational Activity progress alerts, redesigned Workout and Music app, integration with gym equipment and more.

There are also minor enhancements across watchOS 4. List mode app screen is one such change for people that can’t stand the fluid honeycomb layout and prefer something a bit more ordered.

From your watch face, press the home button once to open the app screen. Then, press firmly on the display to open the new contextual Force Touch overlay.

This view offers a toggle between the two modes for app screen, grid view or list view. ‘Grid view’ is what Apple calls the honeycomb arrangement.


Press the List View icon to switch to the new mode. The app screen transforms into a plain list of all your Apple Watch apps in alphabetical order. Each row shows the app icon and its name, something that is generally not visible when in the Watch interface.

You can use the digital crown to scroll up and down the list; rows at the top and bottom of the screen scale down to prioritize apps in the center. Tap on a row to launch the respective app. It is not possible to rearrange apps in the list — they always go from A-Z.

When you return to the app screen, list view is preserved. If you want to change back to the (far prettier) honeycomb layout, Force Touch on the list and select Grid View.

Although it’s always nice to have the option, I personally will not be using the List View that much. It’s limiting that the apps cannot be re-arranged into a preferred ordering as my most used apps are not those that start with A, B, C. Moreover, the honeycomb shows more apps at once on the screen and it simply looks better aesthetically.

Do you prefer the List View and are grateful Apple added it to watchOS 4? Let us know in the comments below!

Tips & Tricks: 5 ways to boost your MacBook battery life

 

Photo: picjumbo.com/Pexels CC
Save yourself some battery power when you go remote.

 

 

5 ways to boost your MacBook battery life

Jovan Washington of Cult of Mac

Despite the MacBook’s svelte design, their batteries last a long time because Apple put a lot of thought into how the hardware and software work together. Still, if you find yourself running out of juice, some simple changes can help you extend your MacBook battery life.

Apple designs its laptops to maximize user productivity and minimize extra work, but following these simple tips will boost MacBook battery life considerably.

HOW TO BOOST MACBOOK BATTERY LIFE

While your MacBook’s battery life totally depends on what you’re doing on any given day, making small sacrifices can pay off big time. (See Apple’s specs listings to see exactly how much screen time you can hope to attain.)
These tips should boost your MacBook battery life noticeably.

TURN DOWN MACBOOK SCREEN BRIGHTNESS

Screenshot: Cult of Mac
Decrease the brightness levels on your MacBook to save battery power.

Apple’s Retina display is pretty adaptive and vibrant even at low brightness settings. In most conditions, you can turn down your brightness settings — especially if you are not accessing highly visual content — to extend your battery life.

Go to System Preferences > Displays. In the Display tab, move the Brightness slider to the left and uncheck Automatically adjust brightness.

SWITCH OFF BLUETOOTH AND WI-FI

If what you’re doing doesn’t require Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi, turn them off. These two laptop mainstays can eat up a big chunk of your battery without you realizing it. Ask yourself, “Do I really need to be connected to Wi-Fi if all I’m doing is working on a spreadsheet?” Switch off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use.

  • To switch off Bluetooth, go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and then select Turn Bluetooth Off.
  • To switch off Wi-Fi, go to System Preferences > Network and select Turn Wi-Fi Off.

 

DISCONNECT PERIPHERALS

Believe it or not, keeping a compact disk inserted or USB device connected consumes significant MacBook battery power. While on the move, even the slightest of battery wastage can prove to be a heavy blow and reduce overall performance. Always disconnect any peripherals to conserve and extend laptop battery life.

TURN OFF BACKLIT KEYBOARD

Having a light-up keyboard definitely proves convenient in certain situations, but you only really need it in dim lighting. Turning off your backlit keyboard will extend the battery life of your MacBook.

 

INVERT COLORS

Screenshot: Cult of Mac
Select this option to give you a bizarre view of your desktop while saving battery life.

Designed for people with limited vision, this option saves MacBook battery by displaying energy-saving black pixels rater than juice-devouring white ones. If you can stand the pain of working in such a stark environment, this is a good way to get more from your Mac’s battery.

BONUS MACBOOK BATTERY TIPS

Screenshot: Cult of Mac
Safari is using significant energy.

MacOS helpfully informs you if any apps use significant amounts of power. Just look in the Battery menu. Click on Battery in the Menu bar and check under Apps Using Significant Energy. Safari is the culprit in the example above. But you should quit any hungry apps and use a low-energy alternative instead.

You can also get more detailed information on energy usage using the Activity Monitor app.

1. Launch the Activity Monitor app.
2. Click on the Energy Tab and Energy Impact header to view the apps and processes taking up the most power on your Mac.

Also, check the following options in System Preferences > Energy Saver:

  • Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible.
  • Slightly dim the display when using this power source.
  • Automatically reduce brightness before display goes to sleep.
  • Disable Power Nap.

Those quick changes can boost Mac battery life considerably.

Do you have any tips for preserving battery life on your laptop? Share them with us in the comments below!

Weekly Round Up 6/16

 

Customers at a Whole Foods Market in Manhattan. Credit John Taggart for The New York Times

 

Dads love Gadgets.
Top Tech Gifts for Father’s Day

 

Looks like Amazon Fresh is about to take off.
Amazon to Buy Whole Foods in $13.4 Billion Deal

 

This could help me put the “Legal” in Legally Blonde.

Justin Kan confirms $10.5 million in funding for his legal tech startup Atrium LTS

 

I’ll bet Elon Musk isn’t on that list.
Here are some of the tech investors invited to the White House next week

 

Yet, another thing Canada is better at than us…
Gender, racial diversity part of city’s tech push

 

She may want to talk to Tim Cook about that after that San Bernadino thing…
Theresa May wants tech companies to censor terrorists, but will they play ball?

 

Um…I have enough noise in my head already, thanks.
What is “brain hacking”? Tech insiders on why you should care

 

And we lose one of the few female CEO’s in the tech world….great.
Tech Roundup: The End of Yahoo, the Problem No Executive Could Fix

The New Apple is the Old Microsoft

 

 

By FundamentalSpeculation.IO on SeekingAlpha.com

Summary

  • I see signs of history repeating itself – the new behemoth in tech is becoming more and more like the old behemoth in tech.
  • The bull case for apple is the strong moat around its best selling product – the iPhone. Based on this year’s WWDC, if anything, this moat is only getting bigger.
  • The bear case is that it is a single product company. They just can’t seem to be able to expand meaningfully into other categories that can rival the iPhone.
  • Is the new Apple with its iPhone a lot like the old Microsoft with its windows/office?
  • We consult our relative value model to see what may be considered fair value for Apple in today’s market.

I am a geek at heart. I like the flexibility of customizing my tools exactly to my liking. I am biased to prefer Linux over macOS/Windows and an android based phone over an iPhone (though I own both). This leads me to not be a big fan of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL products. I am however also in the minority. I appreciate the fact that most people are looking to see how computers/tablets/smartphones can help them in what they regularly do in their lives and prefer an intuitive interface over the customization I crave for. I have experienced this firsthand. I have tried to get my mom to use various laptops, tablets and phones over the years in the end the only devices she likes to use are the iPhone and the iPad. There is definitely tremendous value in the user experience and ecosystem apple has built.

The bear case for apple on the other hand is that it is a single product company at this point and at today’s valuation as the most valuable company ever in history, any misstep here can lead to a significant correction. I watched Apple’s WWDC keynote from earlier this month and I believe this only reinforces the beliefs of both parties. I will go over what I believe this means for the future of apple. Let’s start off with the good stuff from WWDC.

WWDC: The good stuff

Apple has been working tirelessly to make incremental improvements to the iPhone/iPad, its services and the ecosystem in general. I am a fan of Apple Pay and the introduction of P2P payments through Apple Pay has a very good chance of making mobile payments more mainstream in the US. As a developer, I’m also very interested in ARKit. What a lot of people do not realize is that one of the biggest hurdles in building such AR applications is the heavy lifting you need to do to build an infrastructure to support an AR platform before you can actually design your product.

The fact that ARKit does most of the heavy lifting is a big deal. While I would never consider hiring a team of developers to help me build such an AR platform for my one app, I would be much more willing to devote some of my time to building a useful product on top of ARKit. There were also a bunch of other feature additions. While I cringed at the number of times the speakers tried to weave the phrase “machine learning” into their talks, I expect users will find value in a lot of the feature additions.

WWDC: The bad stuff

Steve jobs very famously simplified Apple’s product line when he was brought back to save the company. His “four quadrant” product grid is now legendary. Fast forward twenty years and now how many variations of apple products do we have again?

I understand apple is trying to squeeze the last few dollars from its customer base by trying to cater to some very specific needs a subset of the users may have, but some of the variations they are looking to launch are just silly. Case in point the new iMac Pro.

After what can only be considered a failed launch of the Mac Pro and a very rare admission of guilt, apple seems to be taking a second stab at the pro user. Let me be clear, if I am looking to buy a workstation as a professional user, my single biggest consideration is a modular, expandable design. I do not care one bit about aesthetics in this case! (It also took a lot of restraint for me to not use more colorful language). What I am looking to make sure is that my large investment will not go obsolete within the next few years requiring me to fork out several thousand dollars again to buy the new version of the same product. I fail to see who the target audience is for this device. It also looks like Apple realized this would be a concern and included language in their press release to assure customers that they are still working on a Mac Pro with a modular design. That being the case, it still does not excuse apple from creating useless product lines. This is the exact opposite of what Steve Jobs did to turnaround the company.

“In addition to the new iMac Pro, Apple is working on a completely redesigned, next-generation Mac Pro architected for pro customers who need the highest-end, high-throughput system in a modular design, as well as a new high-end pro display.”

The new Apple is like the old Microsoft

This brings me to how I believe this will play out for apple. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT famously experienced a “lost decade” where the company was tremendously profitable but the stock languished with no one believing Microsoft could build anything successful beyond windows/office. It continued to generate massive profits through this period but the multiples just contracted. It was only recently when Satya Nadella took over the reigns and refocused the company as cloud-first and mobile-first that the stock has taken off. I see a similar case with Apple. I believe the iPhone will continue to be a very successful product. Revenues from services related to this ecosystem will also continue to grow in the near-mid term. However despite the recent run up in the stock, I do not see much room for any significant multiple expansion. Let’s take a look at what our Relative Value Model has to say about Apple.

To add some color to the chart shown above, the “Cohort Fair Value” is the Fair value determined by our Relative Value Model based on comparables with similar business fundamentals (Such as Growth, Operating Leverage, Profitability etc). The “Fair Value” factors in a premium the market is currently paying for technology companies. If you agree with me that Apple will go through a phase similar to Microsoft in the 2000s, then the cohort fair value is the level to look for. Earlier this year, I would have recommended buying Apple and it reached our cohort fair value before falling back again in the recent tech sell-off. If at any point it starts to become clear that Apple can be more than just an iPhone company, I will get a lot more bullish and look for moves towards our sector adjusted “Fair Value” levels.

At the end of the day if you are bullish on the overall market at today’s levels or just want to stay invested, I consider Apple a good buy as long as it is below our cohort fair value. Start trimming your positions whenever it exceeds this level. Good luck with your investments!

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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