Apple is amazing, awesome, inspiring - will they do transponders, and sell road pricing?

January 28, 2010

If like us you find following government and politics and the economy and international affairs and the weather too depressing, then there's one thing happening that should give you a lift - Apple computer. Truly awe inspiring is how this company manages in the midst of a deep recession to succeed in selling stupendous quantities of great products - 250m iPhones it has now sold - and earns revenues of $60b/year. That's about four times the revenue of the US toll industry, and we'd guess not much behind worldwide toll revenues.

All run by a guy who disdains suits and ties so persistently he'd never be recognized in regular office dress, and - also like your editor - never seems to have shaved for three or four days. (We just wish we were as trim in figure as Steve Jobs is.) The practical comfortable informal sneakers and jeans and sweatshirts are accompanied by a great sense of style of Apple's presentation and products, the black on metallic silver framing, the gentle rounding of corners and edges,  the uncluttered lines, bright, open spaces, and their topflight consistent logos and their intuitive applications.

Apple's products and their stores are just gorgeous to look at and use.

They're full of hype of course, such as calling their service desk the Genius Bar. We had one troublesome Powermac that had to be looked at by three Mac Store Geniuses on three trips to the Apple store in Columbia MD. Each Genius had a very persuasive sounding but quite different diagnosis of the same problem, and none got the PC working right.

(A fourth non-genius closer by - a son - actually solved the problem.)

But you forgive them their occasional failings because their overall standard of performance is so high.

Now they seem to have done it again with a 'tablet' named the iPad.

The presentations alone are a pleasure to watch:

Rich Karlgaard says the rest so well in WSJ this morning.


"...On Jan. 27, 2010, American confidence is in the pits and President Barack Obama gave his own crisis of confidence speech, otherwise known as the State of the Union address. Every American was aware of the problems he confronted: Iran now holds its own 72 million citizens hostage and threatens to blow up Israel; unemployment and underemployment is our era's new prime rate, hovering near 20%; deficits are out of control.

"And once again Apple rides to the rescue. Yesterday, Apple Chairman Steve Jobs wowed the world and showed what is possible when you engage your audience with substance and dash.

"No one knows whether Apple's iPad will be a hit on the order of the Macintosh, the iPod, and the iPhone. I would not bet against it despite some obvious headwinds...

"...if America is to rediscover its mojo and grow its way out of debt and deficits--and not just pin the tail on the rich, or inflate it all away--it needs to liberate the new generation of Steve Jobses. Today, that challenge seems daunting. But the 1970s, the decade of Apple's birth, offers hope that hardy seeds can take root even in bad climates.

"The 1973-74 stock market crash wiped out 48% from American equities--similar to the 52% losses in our own Great Recession. Yet the 1970s, the second worst economic decade of the 20th century--what economist Jude Wanniski called a "functional depression"--also gave us these remarkable startups: Federal Express (1970), Southwest Airlines (1971), Microsoft (1975), Apple (1976), Genentech (1976) and Oracle (1977).

"In last night's State of the Union message, President Obama tipped his hat to small businesses with an extension of accelerated depreciation, tax credits for hiring people, and a cut in capital-gains taxes for investments in small business. Not bad stuff, really, but small-bore and piecemeal. Nothing permanent.

"No grand vision that will divert capital flows from the safe harbors of dividend stocks, government bonds and commodities and toward innovation and entrepreneurs. Nothing to inspire the next Steve Jobs.

"...Entrepreneurs are not just a cute little subsector of the American economy. They are the whole game. They will give us tomorrow's Apples and the multiplier effect of small businesses and exciting new jobs that go with them.

"Entrepreneurs are necessary to keep our large multinationals on their toes. It's no coincidence that the entrepreneurial flowering of the 1970s forced a managerial revolution in large companies during the 1980s and 1990s. Without Steve Jobs, there would have been no Lou Gerstner to reinvent IBM in the '90s. Entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs make everyone better." END EXCERPTS WSJ

EDITORIAL: Now if only we could get Apple now the world's largest mobile devices company - ahead of Nokia, Sony and Samsung they say -  to manufacture toll transponders, and Steve Jobs to sell pricing of roads, not just the odd road, but whole road networks! It's a whole important line of business they've overlooked so far.

IDEA: Pat Jones should invite Steve Jobs to speak at the next IBTTA annual conference if only to draw attention of Apple to an important portable device they've so far overlooked. RULE: when Jobs shows at IBTTA the only toll guys to be admitted to the session to be wearing Jobs-style casual dress and sneakers and have a minimum three days' face fuzz.

TOLLROADSnews 2010-01-27

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