The Tech.pinions Podcast: Amazon Smartphones

Bob O'Donnell / May 3rd, 2014

Welcome to the second in the series of the revived Tech.pinions podcasts.

This week Ben Bajarin, Bob O’Donnell, and Jan Dawson chat about the opportunities and challenges for a potential Amazon smartphone and what kind of impact carrier or vendor financing could have on the sales of new smartphones and tablets.

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If you happen to use a podcast aggregator or want to add it to iTunes manually the feed to our podcast is: techpinions.com/feed/podcast

Runtime: 27:41

Bob O'Donnell

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.
  • Space Gorilla

    Enjoyed the podcast, nice audio quality. The intro and outro music though, that was awful. Just one gorilla’s opinion, soooo cheesy. And if I’ve got the voices sorted out, wow, Bob, you have a fantastic radio voice. I can’t quite put my finger on who you sound like, but it’s some other famous voice I’ve heard.

    On the content of the podcast, I would love it if Apple moved to a subscription-type financing model. The risk for Apple is lower (I think) given the segment they serve and the number of credit card linked accounts Apple has. I would also rather pay Apple a monthly fee for wireless data as well, but I would guess that isn’t practical.

    • Bob O’Donnell

      OK, so I’ll take the good with the bad. First off, thanks on the voice comments. FYI, I was a radio professional for over 10 years (as a side job–money in radio is terrible….) and hosted my own weekly program on Saturday mornings/early afternoons an ABC affiliate in SF called KSFO (560 AM). The program started out as “O’Donnell on Computers” and then morphed into “O’Donnell on Technology” so, if you’re a Bay Area person, maybe the voice I reminded you of is actually me.
      And as for the music, well, that’s me too. I composed and performed that little ditty specifically for the podcast. Sorry you didn’t care for it, but hey, all us artists have to take our lumps…;>

      • Space Gorilla

        I’m up in Canada, so it wasn’t you I heard. I can’t place the voice, could be a sports announcer, hmm, it might be Bob Odenkirk (actor). But your experience shows. I could listen to you talk all day long, there’s a certain coolness in the tone of your voice.

        Could be I’m a lone voice on the music. I’ve played live music and recorded most of my life, I get what you mean, not everyone is a fan of everything you do. Maybe the best line I ever heard at a gig was a guy in the audience yelling at us between songs “Turn down the suck!”

        I do like the opening riff though, it just got too complex and syncopated after that, too many instrument voices mixing it up. I’ve been involved in recording a couple jingles (as the drummer). I had a sound engineer tell me once “Whatever you’re planning for fills, cut that in half. It isn’t you, it’s all drummers.”

        • Bob O’Donnell

          Thanks again. I’m proud to say when I was on the air, my program won a Computer Press Awards award way back in 2000 for best radio/audio program in the US. I’ve been off the air since 2007, though, so I’m very excited to get back “on”, so to speak and, even better, on Saturday mornings again!
          As for the music, I’m used to writing for my band, which is an eight-piece group with four horns (I actually play trombone in the band), so yeah, it tends to be a bit complex. Plus, I’m one of these people that doesn’t like to use simple chords…I’ll take the m7s, 7#9s, etc. Anyway, I do appreciate the honest feedback (especially from a fellow musician). BTW, the “drums” are from using the Drummer feature in Apple’s Logic Pro X….

          • Space Gorilla

            Ah, the complexity makes total sense. If you like it keep it, obviously. We use Logic Pro for all mixing, vocals, often bass lines, solos. We always do the bed tracks in a studio for the drums, some of the guitar, guide vocals, tough to beat that live sound. But it doesn’t always make sense time or money wise. Plus playing to a click is hard, I have to think and play at the same time 🙂 We’ve also messed around with DrumCore, which gives you samples from great live drummers, it’s pretty darn good.

  • jfutral

    Nice podcast, great thoughts all around. Just a bit of a math quibble, Bob. 8% a quarter does not equal 32% a year. 8% a quarter is still 8% for the year. Was that metric actually a unit count, not a percentage? Or was that 8% growth per quarter?

    Anyway, good job.

    Joe

    • Bob O’Donnell

      Thanks. Re: the numbers, those are actually from something Jan posted, so he should probably clarify, but I believe it referred to the percentage of the carriers’ installed base that upgraded every quarter. Presuming those numbers are relatively consistent, 8% every quarter would be about 1/3 ever year, implying a 3-year lifecycle instead of the commonly accepted two-year average. Make sense?

      • Joe – I think Bob was talking about the second last chart on this page http://www.beyonddevic.es/us-wireless-numbers/ . And as Bob points out, the quarterly rate does indeed add up over the course of the year and Bob’s math was correct. The current rate of 7-8% per quarter adds up to 28-32% per year, and therefore equates to a 3-4 year upgrade cycle on average. As we discussed on the podcast, the big question is whether this gets shorter or longer as everyone moves to installment plans.

        • jfutral

          Got it. So this is a compounded rate, it is another 8% on top of the 8% from the previous quarter.

          Joe

          • Almost – it’s not compound in the sense of compound interest, so just to be clear: the 8% simply means that, of the base of subscribers with postpaid accounts during the quarter, 8% of them upgraded their phones. The next quarter, 8% of the base that quarter upgraded, and so on. You assume they’re a different 8%, and for the most part they are.

      • DrewBear2

        “…implying a 3-year lifecycle instead of the commonly accepted two-year average.”

        On the last earnings call, Cook talked about the difficulty in gauging how the new upgrade policies will play out. He ended with two points to put it in greater perspective (from transcript):

        “…what I see as the bigger opportunity for Apple is that the smartphone market is still only 1 billion or so units and it will eventually take over the entire mobile phone market…It’s probably also important to know that the bulk of the things you’re seeing in the U.S. are not occurring in many of the other geos in terms of the upgrade policies and so forth. I mean, each country has its own kind of cadence associated with this, and the U.S. is – it’s in the 30% of our business, not 100%. So it’s important to weigh it with a proper perspective.”

        I personally don’t think the impact of what’s happening in the U.S. will be great. Larger factors are in motion that will affect iPhone sales more significantly.

        As for the Amazon phone, my guess is it will be as impactful as Kindle has been in the tablet market. In other words it probably won’t affect iPhone sales.

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