The fascination with highly visible but largely unknown business models continues. How do infomercials work? What is the value of fashion? How can you make money when no creative idea can be protected? Why is Apple building a sapphire manufacturing facility? It’s all part of a pattern.
The Transportationist, David Levinson @trnsprttnst joins us to discuss the technical, human, environmental and economic factors driving change to the auto-ecosystem.David helps us smartly survey the landscape via:
- Human behavior
- Technology lifecycles
- Urban transportion evolution
- Network capitalization
Photo credit: Wikipedia, CVN-78
I’ve been writing about Apple’s capital intensive operations for some time. The difficulty has always been in explaining the scale involved. I’ve compared the spending to that of Samsung, Microsoft, Google, Intel and Amazon. But these numbers still can’t be easily grasped. You can’t point to any comparable objects when you try to explain the figure. I struggle to create a less abstract notion than that of a “sea of tooling and servers.”
Instead, I’ve used the analogy of US aircraft carriers. Historically, Nimitz class aircraft carriers have cost a less than $5 billion. The USS Ronald Reagan, christened in 2001, cost $4.5 billion. Therefore I was comfortable saying that Apple spends the equivalent of about one Nimitz class aircraft carrier every six months (and that the Navy takes about six years to put it together.)
Unfortunately, costs for aircraft carriers have gone up. The USS Gerald Ford will take about $13 billion to complete. That places Apple and Samsung capital spending in the following context:
Apple has sold 700 million iOS devices. Google claims one billion Android device activations. Microsoft has about 1.5 billion Windows users and Facebook about 1.19 billion. LinkedIn has 259 million users and Twitter has 232 million. Amazon has 215 active account holders and PayPal 137 million.
Markets place a value on these users implicitly when company shares are priced. For example, Twitter whose users are worth about $110 or FaceBook’s $98 and LinkedIn at $93.
This consistency suggests a universally accepted value per social media user but what is the value of an ecosystem user? Apple, Google, Microsoft and even Amazon aspire to enable ecosystems which should be seen are more valuable than mere communities. Ecosystems enable a higher level of economic activity because they are unbounded by the medium itself. Any number of media can be created. Or so the theory goes.
If we could determine a value for an ecosystem user we could test it against the going value of a social media user. Fortunately we have enough data to do so.
The total number of iOS devices sold per quarter allows us to measure the install base of device users. With some assumptions regarding the retirement and attrition rate we can get the following history:
Since the total number of iTunes accounts is updated with some regularity I’ve added it to the graph. I’ve also shown on the same graph the total number of iCloud accounts. For calibration, I included survey data showing the number of iPhone users in two regions (US and EU5).
The closing of one and the onset of another era. In this hundredth episode of The Critical Path we look back to some of the big questions we asked and ask them again with hindsight and foresight. They are:
- What happens to entertainment in the era of pervasive connectivity and computing?
- What happens to privacy when citizenship requires divulging all your secrets to commercial entities?
- What happens to the structure of computing when diffusions of innovations are instantly global?
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Horace Dediu joins us for a discussion about the history of the space industry and its more recent commercial direction. We touch on the history of governmental and private investments in space as well as possible asymmetric strategies for the future including a railgun and the ever elusive space elevator. Does the commercial exploitation of space fit within a timescale business is able to accept?
In the wake of Apple’s final announcement event of the year, Horace and Moisés discuss the cost of free software, the unification of file formats, and the cost/benefit of interoperability.
During the first quarter of fiscal year 2014, we changed our organizational structure as part of our transformation to a devices and services company. As a result of these changes, information that our chief operating decision maker regularly reviews for purposes of allocating resources and assessing performance changed. Therefore, beginning in fiscal year 2014, we are reporting our financial performance based on our new segments; Devices and Consumer (“D&C”) Licensing, D&C Hardware, D&C Other, Commercial Licensing, and Commercial Other.
The previous reporting segments were:
- Windows & Windows Live
- Server and Tools
- Online Services
- Microsoft Business
- Entertainment and Devices
- Unallocated and other
The new are:
- D&C Licensing: Windows OEM licensing, Consumer Windows, Consumer Office, Windows Phone (including related patent licensing)
- D&C Hardware: Xbox 360, second-party and third-party video games, and Xbox LIVE subscriptions; Surface; PC accessories
- D&C Other: Resale, including Windows Store, Xbox LIVE transactions, Windows Phone Marketplace; search advertising; display advertising; Subscriptions including Office 365 Home Premium; Studios including first-party video games; retail stores.
- Commercial Licensing: Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Visual Studio, System Center; Windows Embedded; volume licensing of Windows; Microsoft Office for business (Office, Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync); Client Access Licenses; Dynamics, Skype.
- Commercial Other: Enterprise Services, including Premier product support services and Microsoft Consulting Services; Cloud Services, comprising O365, other Microsoft Office online offerings, Dynamics CRM Online, and Windows Azure.
The mapping between the old and new is not straight forward. There is overlap between D&C Licensing and the old Windows and perhaps between Entertainment and Devices and D&C Hardware but there are many gaps. There is also some overlap between the old “Business”/”Server” segments and the new “Commercial” but, again, they cannot be matched.
I show the difference between the two structures in the way revenues are allocated below, using color to try to show similarities.
Given the re-stated quarters it’s possible to compare one year’s historic performance at a segment level. For example,
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