Morning Advantage: Is Apple Too Focused on Profits?

Writing in the MIT Technology Review, Dan Lyons accuses Apple of milking profits at the expense of investing in innovation. First, he points out that iPhone sales have not kept pace with the smartphone market. Then, he points out that the iPhone itself is just 17% of that market, with Android surging ahead to 68%. Finally, he slams Apple for skimping on research and development: "Despite all its bluster about 'innovation,' Apple devotes a paltry 2 percent of revenue to R&D, versus 14 percent at Google and Microsoft and 6 percent at Samsung."

Methinks Mr. Lyons doth protest a little too much. Sure, Apple may spend less of its revenue on R&D — but Apple's profits outpace Google's revenues. And the iPhone alone brings in more money in sales than all of Microsoft's products put together. In other words, two percent of Apple's revenues is not exactly chump change. Moreover, measuring total R&D expenditure doesn't tell you whether that R&D spend is effective. Apple may simply spend its R&D dollars more wisely than the other companies — including Samsung, who just lost a court case for patent infringement against Apple.

So why is Apple's phone losing marketshare? Because they make luxury products, and the market is rapidly expanding to include millions of smartphone buyers at the lower end of the economic spectrum. If that somehow turns out to be a problem for Apple, my bet would be that Apple can solve it.

Read the piece and make up your own mind.

A WOMAN'S PLACE

The End of Men (New York Times Book Review)

Hanna Rosin's pot-stirring Atlantic article has become a book. This review by NYU's Jennifer Homans is a good primer for those who don't want to be left out of the conversation, but don't really want to read the book, either. The shortest version: "plastic women" are remolding themselves to fit the new service economy, in Rosin's view, while "cardboard men" can't seem to reskill themselves. Homans argues that many of Rosin's copious statistics and anecdotes are cherry-picked. Moreover, she points out, the "end of men" really just refers to blue-collar men; the white-collar men running companies and the world are doing just fine.

PARDON ME

Are You Refined Enough to Friend Grey Poupon? (Advertising Age)

Most companies want as many Facebook fans as they can get. Grey Poupon, playing on its tongue-in-cheek reputation for exclusiveness, requires wannabe fans to apply for membership. An algorithm determines whether or not you "cut the mustard." The algorithm judges users' profiles based on their proper use of grammar, art taste, check ins, book and movie selections, and so forth, and gives them a percentile score based on their refinement. If rejected, you can always friend the Met and try again...
— by Gardiner Morse

BONUS BITS:

Practice Helps, But Doesn't Always Make Perfect

Beyond the 10,000 Hour Rule: The Messy Art of Becoming Great (Study Hacks)
11 Reasons a 23-Year Old Shouldn't Be Controlling Your Social Media (Inc.)
I Sold Two Startups for $150 Million. Here's How I Did It. (SFGate)

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