As we prepare to head into a three-day President's weekend, there are lots of security developments going on, as well as some interesting Apple TV stuff, while Michael Dell's deal to buy Dell has run into some major speed bumps.
Before we dig in, however, we need to spend a few moments reflecting on what was likely the silliest mobile device news we've come across in the New Year. What might that be? How about the stupendous Vertu $10,000 Ti Smartphone? We'll not say anything more about it but we're joking when we use the word "stupendous" here.
Certainly also not stupendous, but a great deal more important from a mobile device perspective, we are now a few days into Microsoft finally releasing its Surface Pro tablet. Reviews so far have ranged from highly positive (especially for those that understand the Pro's enterprise focus, to less positive for those that do not. We've managed to uncover the inner workings of the beast through a Microsoft Surface Pro teardown.
Our two cents is that the Surface Pro is absolutely enterprise-worthy, but that Microsoft egregiously delivered too little memory for the entry level model's $899 price tag.
This week also brought us the annual State of the Union message from our President, and one very interesting thing to emerge from it has been a focus on cyber security. In fact, the week brought a number of security and privacy issues with it that are well worth exploring. For example, Trustwave, a leading provider of cloud-based compliance and information security solutions, revealed that it has spotted a non-trivial increase in retailer, mobile device and e-commerce cyber attacks. Hardly a reassuring thing. Nor is it reassuring that there are new concerns arising over Google's attitude toward users' privacy. You need to know about this.
A key security issue is that of dealing with the complexity of user authentication. Not only is it complicated, but it is also cumbersome and creates frustrations for the user and IT department alike. But there is now a potential game-changer in the truest sense of the word - the new FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance has been formed and has announced the first Open Industry Standard for Online Authentication. The alliance consists of leading Internet companies, systems integrators and security providers.
There is more good news. Prolexic, a leading provider of DDoS protection services, has announced its new Prolexic PLXpatrol, which provides the global security community with an instant global view of DDoS threats. And just in time apparently, as a recent rash of cyber security attacks have taken place that are being highlighted by House representative Pat Meehan, R-PA. The cyberattacks highlighted by Meehan have been focused on U.S. bank accounts. Meehan notes that Izz ad-Din al-Qassam is connected to the attacks. The group is connected to and working with the Iranian government.
Citigroup, PNC and Capital One, among others, have all been affected by the attacks, either by service disruption or by shutting down the sites.
It is a good thing then that the White House has finally announced an Executive Order for improving critical infrastructure cyber security. Since the devil will be in the details of how the order is executed, we’re going to have a few months to wait and see how this shakes out. Reactions to the order have generally been mixed so far, with many officials saying it doesn’t go far enough, some supporting it, and others wondering if it’s needed at all.Back to Apple
Early this past Tuesday morning Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage at Goldman Sachs' Technology and Internet Conference. Amid fresh rumors of an inexpensive iPhone Cook took on a collection of questions from the audience. Of course the first thing he was asked was what Apple will do about all that cash in hand - $137 billion of it. That led us to think about the recent plunge in Apple's share price. What really drove Apple's Q4 2012 share slide? The major hedge funds, of course. A number of major hedge funds clearly believed Apple would need to up its innovation game and not simply rely on existing technology and services to take the stock beyond $705.
Hence, it was time to sell off very large positions in order to lock in the profits. To the elite players in the game, business is business and it was time to move.
Regardless, there's still plenty of profit to be had in Apple. A recent analysis from Asymco took a look at Apple's profit profile and compared it to several other mobile phone makers and discovered something very unusual: Accessories and iTunes mean big money for Apple.
The Apple HDTV rumor mill, meanwhile, took a decidedly very interesting turn this week when a trader was cited by Reuters as saying that, "Apple supposedly wants to bid four Euros a share for Loewe," the German luxury electronics goods brand. Will Apple Buy Loewe? Loewe, among other things, makes HDTVs-fueling Apple TV speculation and a stock price jump of 23.16 percent for Loewe. We also have in hand some additional insights into Apple's home entertainment TV media strategy - from past to present to future developments to share.
Finally on Apple for the week, that maven of all things Apple analyst, Peter Misek of Jeffries & Co. believes that Apple will look to refresh its TV and iPhone Strategies in 1H 2013. Granted, that isn't saying much, but it's worth reading through what Misek thinks may take place.
In the meantime, Microsoft is hoping to unveil its own interactive TV plans by the end of 2013. Microsoft hasn’t officially revealed what types of interactive shows they are working on, but some examples could include live events, reality shows, scripted programming and children’s programming, allowing kids to interact with their favorite characters on the screen. It will be interesting to see what emerges.
And finally, we need to reflect on what is happening with Dell. Michael Dell's attempt to take Dell private for what more or less amounts to a song and a dance and whether he can or not, and what exactly is to become of Dell the company should it go private - are all topics we touch on in our analysis. More than likely other large investors will not let Michael Dell steal Dell after all.