INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A Roxane Gay's Audacious Book Club Pick!
Named a Best Book of Summer by: Wall Street Journal * Thrillist * Vogue * Lit Hub * Refinery29 * New York Observer * The Daily Beast * Time * BuzzFeed * Entertainment Weekly
A vibrant story collection about Cambodian-American life—immersive and comic, yet unsparing—that offers profound insight into the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities
Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tenderhearted, balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans. As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, sexuality, friendship, and family.
A high school badminton coach and failing grocery store owner tries to relive his glory days by beating a rising star teenage player. Two drunken brothers attend a wedding afterparty and hatch a plan to expose their shady uncle's snubbing of the bride and groom. A queer love affair sparks between an older tech entrepreneur trying to launch a "safe space" app and a disillusioned young teacher obsessed with Moby-Dick. And in the sweeping final story, a nine-year-old child learns that his mother survived a racist school shooter.
The stories in Afterparties, "powered by So's skill with the telling detail, are like beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community" (George Saunders).
Family Friendly Content Creator and Personality (552K IG+TikTok)
Avalon Warren is an internet personality most known for her multi-million viewed BuzzFeed video appearances and fan favorite Netflix show, 100 Humans. She has an extremely dedicated and engaged fanbase that love her fun-loving and lighthearted content that includes fashion, food, fitness, board games, and beauty. Avalon loves sharing all of her favorites with her communities and can't wait to work with you.
Instagram story (avg. 35K reach) that is 3+ slides, hashtag specific and tagging the client, along with a swipe up link if applicable.
1x In-Feed Post + Story
One permanent Instagram post (carousel preferred) with 2-3 high quality images directed to fit the aesthetic of the client (avg. 300K reach). This also includes a dedicated Instagram story (avg. 35K reach) that is 3+ slides, hashtag specific and tagging the client, along with a swipe up link if applicable.
1x In-Feed Reel + TikTok Video (Custom Video)
One custom-made Instagram reel (avg. 300K views per video) and TikTok video (325K followers) posted on both platforms, fully edited and created to highlight the client's vision and product. This also includes beginning to end concept creation and video direction as well if you do not already have a idea in mind.
Charlotte, NC, United States
Family Friendly Content Creator and Personality (552K IG+TikTok)
Instagram story (avg. 35K reach) that is 3+ slides, hashtag specific and tagging the client, along with a swipe up link if applicable.
Eugene Lee Yang can be seen opposite Andy Samberg in Brooklyn 99, and recently released his music video “I’m Gay” which he wrote, directed, choreographed, and starred in as his official coming out to the world. It now has 14 million views and counting. He also raised over 100K with this video for the TREVOR PROJECT as Eugene and Jennie are both part of the LGBTQ community. He recently wrapped shooting on the indie DAYFLOWER SONATA opposite Jake McDorman and Nora Zehetner, and recently was nominated as part of the Logo30. He was recently a development Partner at BuzzFeed Motion Pictures. His work as a producer, writer, director, and actor there has reached millions of viewers worldwide, making him one of today’s most recognizable young Asian-American faces online and in social media. On screen, Yang is most known for being one of The Try Guys, BuzzFeed’s flagship comedy documentary series, and for his passionate advocacy for better Asian representation in entertainment. Prior to his time at BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, Yang graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Cinema-Television Production and has worked in the industry as a music video and commercial director. He has two sisters, was born and raised in Pflugerville, Texas, and his parents immigrated from South Korea.
Above Avalon Articles
Apple’s Big Bet on Memoji. One takeaway from this year’s WWDC had nothing to do with what was announced on the virtual stage. Instead, it was found in the (virtual) audience. Apple kicked off this year's WWDC keynote with a surprising twist: Tim Cook walked out on stage inside Steve Jobs Theater to an auditorium filled with 600 Memoji. (Yes, I tried to count every Memoji.) While the decision to include that opening scene may come off as just a way to add some fun to the keynote, my suspicion is it was part of a much larger, multi-year bet Apple is placing that amounts to using Memoji to prepare us for the upcoming mixed reality era.
Apple's Missed Opportunity at WWDC. For the third year in a row, Apple held an impressive WWDC (worldwide developers conference). The breadth of announcements across various product categories speaks to how Apple is successfully pulling away from the competition. No other company is able to match Apple’s ability to push so many distinct platforms forward yet simultaneously keep an eye on ecosystem cohesiveness. It was this ecosystem focus that ended up being one of the major takeaways from Apple’s WWDC 2021, as outlined in my WWDC review (available here for Above Avalon members). With that said, it was hard to shake the feeling that Apple missed a big opportunity at this year’s WWDC to push its most personal product even further than it already has.
Apple Has a Decade-long Lead in Wearables. Last week, Apple quietly unveiled one of the more remarkable pieces of technology that has been developed in the past few years. AssistiveTouch allows one to control an Apple Watch without actually touching the device. Instead, a series of hand and finger gestures can be used to control everything from answering a call to ending a workout. Just two months prior, Facebook went on a big PR push to show the world how it was in early R&D stages of working on technology that can also use hand and finger movements to control future gadgets. AssistiveTouch is just the latest example of how Apple’s lead in wearables is still being underestimated. The evidence points to Apple having a wearables lead of not just a few years but more like a decade.
Designed by Apple in California, Not Assembled in China. One phrase that has become a fixture on Apple device boxes and some Apple products is “Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China.” Those eight words may not mean much to the average Apple consumer, but they sufficiently sum up how a company now worth more than two trillion dollars became one of the largest sellers of consumer gadgets. A gradual change to Apple’s supply chain and product manufacturing apparatus is now underway. One byproduct of this change is an increasing number of Apple product boxes that no longer contain “Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China.” The change has implications for how Apple will approach product manufacturing in the 2020s.
The Future of Apple Retail. In recent weeks, there have been a number of intriguing developments in the retail space. Apple and Target announced a partnership that will bring mini Apple stores to 17 Targets. Last week, Disney announced it will close 20% of its stores. As a sign of just how much the pandemic impacted Apple’s brick and mortar retail, all U.S. stores are fully open for the first time in a year. While the Apple store celebrates its 20th anniversary this May, the pandemic causes many to question retail’s future amid changing consumer behavior. A close examination of Apple’s ecosystem shows both where the company’s retail operations are headed and what changes are needed.
Apple Watch Is Now Worn on 100 Million Wrists. More than 100 million people wear an Apple Watch. Based on my estimates, Apple surpassed the important adoption milestone this past December. The Apple Watch has already helped usher in a new paradigm shift in computing, and Apple is still only getting started with what is possible on the wrist. New services designed specifically for Apple Watch (such as Fitness+) are being released. The wrist’s utility continues to be unveiled thanks to new hardware and software features revolving around health monitoring.
Apple Won the Share Buyback Debate. I receive many questions about Apple from Above Avalon readers, listeners, and members. In previous years, one topic has been far ahead of any other as a source of questions. Everyone wanted to know about Apple’s share buyback program. Something interesting happened in 2020. I received far fewer questions about Apple’s share buyback program. To be precise, I didn’t receive an incoming question about buyback in nine months - from when the stock market put in a bottom in April 2020 to the start of 2021. What explains such a dramatic change? The Apple share buyback debate ended, and Apple was declared the winner.
Above Avalon Year in Review (2020). In 2020, I published 15 Above Avalon articles, 16 episodes of the Above Avalon podcast. 196 Above Avalon Daily Updates, and 66 episodes of the Above Avalon Daily podcast.
The Rise of Smaller Displays. Apple is a design company selling tools capable of improving people’s lives. Approximately 80% of those tools include a display. Apple is shipping about 300 million displays per year, from iPhones and iPads to Macs and Apple Watches. With Apple running as fast it can towards AR glasses, the number of displays that the company ships will only increase over the next five to ten years. While the pandemic is pushing people to embrace larger displays like iPads and Macs, the momentum found with smaller displays is still flying under the radar.
The Mac's Graduation. The iPad is seeing more than twice the number of new users as the Mac. Within two years, the number of people wearing an Apple Watch will equal the number of people owning a Mac. Approximately 90% of Apple users don’t use, and probably never will use, a Mac. It’s tempting to look at the preceding statements and think that the Mac has lost its luster. However, 2020 was a record fiscal year for the Mac in terms of revenue and the number of new users was near a record high. How does one reconcile such different worlds? The Mac is seeing momentum by being true to itself instead of trying to be something that it’s not. With a transition to Apple Silicon, the product category is now benefiting from lessons Apple learned from more popular devices aimed at the mass market.
A Billion iPhone Users. A billion people now have iPhones. According to my estimate, Apple surpassed the billion iPhone users milestone last month. Thirteen years after going on sale, the iPhone remains the perennial most popular and best-selling smartphone. Competitors continue to either shamelessly copy iPhone or, at a minimum, be heavily influenced by the iPhone. Looking ahead, Apple’s top priorities for the iPhone include finding ways to keep the device at the center of people’s lives while at the same time recognizing the paradigm shift ushered in by wearables.
Apple Watch Momentum Is Building. In a few months, the number of people wearing an Apple Watch will surpass 100 million. While the tech press spent years infatuated with stationary smart speakers and the idea of voice-only interfaces, it was the Apple Watch and utility on the wrist that ushered in a new paradigm shift in computing. We are now seeing Apple leverage the growing number of Apple Watch wearers to build a formidable health platform. The Apple Watch is a runaway train with no company in a position to slow it down.
Attacking the App Store. Apple competitors have turned to guerrilla warfare tactics to wage a battle against Apple and the App Store. Based on what is being written and said about the App Store, one would think we have an entered a tech dystopia in which 27 million iOS developers and a billion Apple users are being taken advantage of by Tim Cook and his allegiance to Wall Street. What had been valid criticism aimed at the App Store has descended into calls to burn everything down and replace it with anti-consumer and anti-developer alternatives. The writing is on the wall. Apple is pulling away from the competition, and the App Store is considered the best (and last) chance for competitors to reshape the mobile industry to their liking.
Introducing the Above Avalon Daily Podcast. Over the past five years, 2,000-word written daily updates have served as the cornerstone of Above Avalon membership. With more than 1,000 updates published to date (the archive is found here), the emails have become widely read and influential in the world of Apple. In an effort to make it easier to consume the daily updates in new and different ways, I am excited to announce a new daily podcast called Above Avalon Daily.
Apple’s Ecosystem Growth Is Accelerating. With Apple reporting 3Q20 earnings two weeks ago, there is value in quantifying how much Apple’s ecosystem is growing. The data should startle the competition. Apple is seeing a clear acceleration in its ecosystem growth as hundreds of millions of iPhone-only users move deeper into the Apple fold by subscribing to various services and buying additional products.
The Secret to Apple’s Ecosystem. Apple’s ecosystem remains misunderstood. While consensus has come around to accepting the sheer size of Apple’s ecosystem (a billion users and nearly 1.6 billion devices), there is still much unknown as to what makes the ecosystem tick. From what does Apple’s ecosystem derive its power? Why do loyalty and satisfaction rates increase as customers move deeper into the ecosystem? Apple’s ecosystem ends up being about more than just a collection of devices or services. Apple has been quietly building something much larger, and it’s still flying under the radar.
Apple Is Pulling Away From the Competition. For the second year in a row, Apple held a developers conference that should frighten its competitors. Relying on a nearly maniacal obsession with the user experience, Apple is removing oxygen from every market that it plays in. At the same time, the tech landscape is riddled with increasingly bad bets, indifference, and a lack of vision. Apple is pulling away from the competition to a degree that we haven’t ever seen before. Given how we are just now entering the wearables era, implications of this shift will be measured in the coming decades, not years.
Predicting Turns on Wall Street. Wall Street got the pandemic right. Or did it? For the past two months, financial market commentators have been stumped by the stock market’s resiliency. The common refrain has been that the market is too optimistic given what seems to be crisis after crisis. With a pandemic still ongoing, Apple and a growing list of companies are trading at all-time highs. The NASDAQ just hit a record high while the S&P 500 is nearly up for the year. Fixed income markets remain shockingly robust. A closer examination of how the past three months transpired shines light on the idea that Wall Street tried to predict the pandemic’s turn without actually knowing what such a turn would look like.
Above Avalon Membership Turns Five Years Old. Above Avalon membership was launched five years ago this week. I am happy to report Above Avalon continues to thrive with a sustainable business model based solely on paid memberships. While membership-supported websites have grown in popularity over the past five years, Above Avalon remains on the forefront of testing just how niche a site can be and still thrive. Above Avalon membership’s fifth anniversary is a good time to reflect on milestones, challenges, and successes.
Apple’s $460 Billion Stock Buyback. Share buybacks have once again come under fire. Some companies that were recent buyers of their shares now find themselves in financial distress and seeking bailouts due to economic fallout from the pandemic. Set within this environment and backlash, Apple is scheduled to provide an update next week on its capital return program, including its share buyback program. The announcement will provide clues for how the poster child of responsible share repurchases is financially navigating the pandemic.
Moving Forward in a Pandemic. Along with doing its part to help combat coronavirus, Apple is also recognizing the reality that society doesn’t stop, even during a pandemic. That decision may come off as distant, or even careless, as if Apple isn’t willing to recognize the seriousness of the matter. However, this is a misreading of the situation. By continuing to move forward, even during a pandemic, Apple is being true to itself. Apple is a toolmaker developing products capable of improving people’s lives. Such a mission never stops, even during a pandemic plaguing 180+ countries.
Don’t Feel Bad for the iPad. Last month marked the tenth anniversary of Apple unveiling the iPad. The occasion took on a somber feel as the most common reaction in tech circles ended up being sadness and disappointment for what the iPad had failed to become. While some are convinced that the iPad is in some way a victim of neglect, mismanagement, or even worse, such feelings are misplaced. We don’t need to feel bad for the iPad.
Spotify Is Evolving. Spotify sees the writing on the wall: It’s going to remain difficult to make a profit from streaming music. Despite years of remarkably strong user growth, the high variable costs found with music streaming continue toserve as a financial headwind. Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek isn’t standing still, however. Spotify is evolving, partly out of necessity, with the long-term goal of becoming the largest audio platform in the world. While the transition includes its fair share of challenges, Spotify has a few things going for it that should force competitors like Apple to take notice.
Apple Watch and a Paradigm Shift in Computing. Despite being only four years old, the Apple Watch has fundamentally changed the way we use technology. Due to the sheer number of Apple Watches now seen in the wild, those claiming the device is unpopular have been silenced. However, there continues to be a good amount of cynicism thrown at the computer found on 65 million wrists around the world. Many tech analysts and pundits continue to look at the Apple Watch as nothing more than an iPhone accessory - an extension to the smartphone that will never have the means or capability of being revolutionary. Such a view is misplaced as it ignores how the Apple Watch has already ushered in a paradigm shift in computing.
Expectation Meters for Apple's 1Q20 Earnings. My expectation is for Apple to report good 1Q20 results as the company benefits from a wearables platform that is gaining momentum with consumers around the world. Accounting related to Apple's TV+ promotion and AirPods Pro supply issues will likely result in some revenue being pushed off to subsequent quarters. Meanwhile, anxiety surrounding coronavirus may add some complexity when it comes to Apple’s revenue guidance range for 2Q20.
The Big Question Now Facing Apple. Predictions are nothing more than attempts at manufacturing clarity for what is inherently a sea of unknown. With New Year predictions, two things need to happen. The person issuing the prediction needs to come up with what may happen, and the predicted event has to occur within an arbitrary time period. The probability of finding value in such an exercise is low. Instead of coming up with predictions for Apple at the start of a new year, there is value found in embracing the unknown and looking at questions facing the company. This has led to my annual tradition of coming up with a set of questions facing Apple at the start of a new year. The irony found with questions is that asking the right ones is equivalent to coming up with a surf board for successfully catching waves in the sea of unknown.
Apple's $500 Billion Year on Wall Street. Since the start of 2019, Apple’s market capitalization has increased by $500 billion or roughly the equivalent of Facebook’s market cap. For the first time with Tim Cook as CEO, Apple shares are trading at a premium to the overall market. Something has clearly changed when it comes to the way Wall Street is treating AAPL. However, the items that analysts, pundits, and the media positioned as catalysts for this dramatic change (Apple Services, iPhone sales rebound, 5G, improving U.S. / China trade sentiment) likely have little to nothing to do with Apple’s share price outperformance in 2019. Instead, changing behavior as it relates to passive versus active investing may be creating a type of perfect storm for AAPL shares.
The “Apple Tax” Died Years Ago. According to Business Insider, Apple products are expensive because loyal users are willing to pay an “Apple Tax,” or a higher price attached to products containing an Apple logo. A closer look at Apple’s actual pricing strategy reveals a fundamentally different explanation for why Apple products are priced the way they are. Apple’s ability to grab monopoly-like share of industry profits isn’t a result of there being an Apple Tax. Rather, it's a byproduct of Apple following a design-led product strategy that ultimately marginalizes industries.
AirPods Are Becoming a Platform. If AirPods were magical, AirPods Pro are supernatural. Apple’s newest pair of AirPods continues to make waves with “augmented hearing” entering people’s vocabulary. However, the broader implications found with Apple’s AirPods strategy are just as impressive. Apple is quickly removing all available oxygen from the wireless headphone market, and competitors find themselves at a severe disadvantage. In just three years, AirPods have evolved from an iPhone accessory into the early stages of a platform well positioned to reshape the current app paradigm for the wearables era.
Apple Watch Forced Fitbit to Sell Itself. Saying that a company with an agreement to be acquired for $2.1 billion was killed may sound like an exaggeration. Many start-ups aim to one day be “killed” in such fashion. However, Google’s decision to acquire Fitbit amounts to a mercy kill, putting an official end to Fitbit’s implosion at the hands of Apple Watch. In just three years, the Apple Watch turned Fitbit from a household name as the wearables industry leader into a company that will eventually be viewed as an asterisk when the wearables story is retold to future generations.
Apple 4Q19 Earnings Expectation Meters. There is increased attention around Apple’s 4Q19 results. Apple shares are up 19% since the company reported 3Q19 results back on July 30th. Since the start of the year, AAPL shares are up 58% while the S&P 500 is up 21%. For a trillion dollar market cap company, such outperformance is noteworthy.
A Different View on Apple and China. Last week, a firestorm erupted over Apple’s decision to remove HKmap.live from the App Store in Hong Kong. Apple claimed the app, which mapped crowd-sourced information regarding police activity, broke App Store guidelines and local laws. Hours earlier, Apple had been threatened by China’s People’s Daily newspaper about continuing to make the app available. In the past, such a decision would have been accompanied by a debate regarding Apple’s decision to continue to do business in China. However, things are different this time.
Measuring Apple’s Content Distribution Arm. Apple has had a busy year expanding its content distribution arm. With the addition of Apple News+, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+, Apple has revamped its paid content bundle offerings. Combining these new bundles with platforms like the App Store and iTunes, Apple will be in a position to have a content distribution arm bringing in more than $30 billion of revenue per year by FY2022.
Apple Keynotes Still Matter. Apple keynotes remain some of the most valuable marketing events in today’s media landscape. In addition, keynotes provide a number of intangibles that it would be difficult for Apple to communicate any other way. It is in Apple’s best interest to continue hosting keynotes and product events, especially as the company moves into the wearables era.
Naming iPhones. Over the years, iPhone naming has had its ups and downs. There were the awkward names like iPhone 3GS and iPhone XS Max, and then there were strong industry-defining names like iPhone X. Based on the latest rumors, Apple appears to be in the early stages of moving away from an annual iPhone naming cadence altogether.
The Apple TV+ Strategy. There is an opening for Apple to find success in paid video streaming. Letting others wage the content arms race, Apple will look to create a curated feed of compelling visual storytelling. Priced with sustainability in mind, Apple TV+ will be positioned as a way to push Apple’s broader video distribution platform forward. Combining Apple TV+ with other curated collections of content, Apple is developing a different kind of content consumption arm for hundreds of millions of highly engaged and loyal users. Apple TV+ has much higher odds of success than consensus assumes.
Apple Deserves More Credit for Wearables. The wearables era at Apple began years ago. However, Wall Street and Silicon Valley are only now slowly starting to pay attention to what Apple has been building. Apple is the undisputed leader in wearables, and they are pulling away from the competition. Given how Apple’s wearables strength continues to be underestimated, the company deserves more credit for what it has achieved and where it is headed.
Apple 3Q19 Earnings Expectation Meters. Apple finds itself in a financial tug-of-war as declining iPhone revenue is being offset by growth in every other product category. While the press remains infatuated with the storyline that slowing iPhone sales are driving Apple to become a services company, which isn’t true, such an intense focus on services is leading to a lack of attention being given to the incredible growth seen with Apple’s wearables platform and the turnaround story underway with the iPad business.
Jony Ive, Jeff Williams, and a Larger Apple. One question that continues to plague Apple is the company’s ability to grow. Wall Street and Silicon Valley are unsure of the company’s business strategy and ability to foster innovation. The press thinks Apple is turning into a different kind of company in an effort to chase additional profits. Thrown into this volatile and polarizing cocktail of opinions, the recent Jony Ive and Jeff Williams news has been met with mixed reactions. The leadership changes neither signify a company moving away from design or hardware nor suggest that management is facing some kind of growth crisis. Upon closer examination, the Jony Ive and Jeff Williams news are byproducts of Apple evolving into a much larger design company.
Apple's Product Strategy Is Changing. This year’s WWDC felt different. While every WWDC keynote is filled to the brim with new features, this year’s announcements included highly anticipated items like a new Mac Pro and differentiated iPad software features. In addition, there were some genuine surprises such as SwiftUI (a big deal with wide-ranging implications for Apple’s ecosystem). Despite there being no discernible change to the grand vision behind Apple’s product development, there does appear to be a noteworthy change to strategy.
Apple’s Billion Users. Apple’s ecosystem is massive. Approximately a billion people are using more than 1.4 billion Apple devices. Even as iPhone sales decline, Apple is bringing tens of millions of new people into its ecosystem each year. However, we are getting to a point where it is prudent to begin thinking about what user growth actually means to Apple.
Tech's Tectonic Plates Are Starting to Shift. For the past decade, the giants (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft) have been able to grow while staying out of each other’s lanes. This dynamic has been nothing short of remarkable. However, things are starting to change.
Apple 2Q19 Earnings Expectation Meters. Based on Apple’s revised financial disclosure, the Above Avalon expectation meters have received a makeover for 2Q19 earnings. Unit sales meters have been retired and replaced with revenue meters. In addition, an entirely new expectation meter is being included to reflect Apple’s changing business as non-iPhone revenue now plays a larger part in Apple’s growth story.
Apple’s $400 Billion Buyback Program. One of the more certain items found with Apple’s upcoming 2Q19 earnings is that the board will approve increases to the company’s share buyback authorization and the quarterly cash dividend. The two capital return initiatives continue to be polarizing topics as Apple holds more than $100 billion of excess cash on the balance sheet. A closer look at Apple’s buyback and dividend trends suggests the company’s board still has a strong incentive to increase Apple buyback authorization in a big way next week. (Published: April 24th, 2019)
Why Apple Is Getting Into Original Content. One of the more crucial questions found with Apple’s Services event involves why the company is moving into original content in the first place. The answer speaks volumes as to how the content consumption landscape has changed in just a few short years. (Published: April 8th, 2019)
Thoughts on Apple’s Revised iPad Line. In what has become something of a trend, Apple once again unveiled a few iPad strategy adjustments in March. This year’s changes include an update to the 7.9-inch iPad mini and altering the 10.5-inch iPad Pro to arrive at a lower-priced and rebranded 10.5-inch iPad Air. The best way to analyze these updates is to look at Apple’s broader iPad strategy and the significant amount of change that the product category has undergone in just the past two years. (Published: March 21st, 2019)
Apple's Declining Capex. The most surprising revelation found in Apple’s recent 10-Q and 10-K filings is related to capital expenditures (capex). For the first time in 16 years, Apple expects its capex to decline during the current fiscal year. Declining capex is made that much more intriguing for Apple considering how Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Facebook are each experiencing significant increases in capex. Analyzing Apple’s capex and the potential reasons for its decline provides a look at how the company is being managed and how Apple is unique when compared to other Wall Street giants. (Published: March 12th, 2019)
Revamping Apple's Home Strategy. Last week, news broke that Apple had hired Sam Jadallah, a former Microsoft executive and most recently founder of a smart lock company, to lead its various home initiatives. The announcement raised a number of questions, including the most obvious: What is Apple’s home strategy? Consensus in the press is that Apple is far behind Amazon and Google in the race to control the home. I’m not so sure about that. Instead, the entire smart home genre appears to be floundering. Jadallah’s hiring points to Apple reassessing how to best get the idea of an intelligent home off the ground. (Published: February 21st, 2019)
AirPods Have Gone Viral. Apple has a hit on its hands, or maybe we should say in its ears. AirPods have become the second best-selling Apple product out of the gate of all time. More interestingly, there are signs of AirPods now becoming a cultural phenomenon. AirPods do a superb job of demonstrating Apple’s competitive advantages with wearables, a product category that will come to define Apple for decades. (Published: February 11th, 2019)
Apple's Content Distribution Strategy. This past November, Amazon sent shockwaves across a number of industries by announcing Apple Music would be available on Echo devices. Earlier this month, Samsung announced Apple was bringing iTunes content to Samsung TVs. Apple also expanded AirPlay 2 support to include a wide range of high-end television sets. These announcements don’t represent some type of cultural shift away from hardware for Apple. Instead, the moves are part of Apple’s strategy to leverage its user base in an effort to establish one of the more formidable content distribution arms in existence. (Published: January 23th, 2019)
Apple Questions in 2019. Last year was a busy one for Apple, and all indications point to 2019 being another busy year. Earlier this month, Apple announced a rare negative revision to its quarterly revenue guidance due to an unforeseen sales drop in China. The news was quickly followed by announcements from the leading TV set manufacturers that Apple was extending AirPlay 2 support to smart TVs. In addition, Samsung announced Apple was bringing an iTunes app to Samsung Smart TVs. The moves are part of Apple’s long-standing ambition to strengthen its content distribution arm. (Published: January 14th, 2019)
iPhone Hysteria. We are in the midst of an iPhone hysteria phase that has reached an inflection point. Attention is being given to data points that are not good indicators of the underlying strength of the iPhone business. Meanwhile, little to no attention is being given to the items that are genuine risks and concerns facing iPhone. We are now starting to see this hysteria and pessimism spill into how the rest of Apple’s business is perceived. (Published: December 19th, 2018)
Leveraging Apple's Share Buyback. Apple’s dramatic stock price drop is now leading to a surge in pessimism towards the company. An increasing number of Apple management’s actions are being questioned while criticism is being thrown at various Apple products. In reality, most of this criticism is nothing more than a byproduct of a declining stock price. This has happened before, and a closer examination of previous stock price drops suggest Apple management will use the lower AAPL share price to its advantage by leveraging its share buyback program. (Published: December 3rd, 2018)
Apple Outgrew Unit Sales. In 2014, Apple management surprised many by announcing they were not going to disclose Apple Watch unit sales once the product went on sale the following year. The decision was interpreted by many outsiders as Apple not thinking too highly of Watch’s prospects. As it turned out, nothing could have been further from the truth. Apple’s Watch disclosure decision ended up foreshadowing management’s recent announcement that it will no longer disclose iPhone, iPad, or Mac unit sales. While a number of factors are behind Apple’s decision, the simplest explanation for the disclosure change is that Apple outgrew unit sales. (Published: November 14th, 2018)
Apple 4Q18 Earnings Expectation Meters. Apple will report another good earnings report on Thursday. Revenue guidance for 1Q19 will be one for the record books as Apple will guide to its best quarter ever. However, when diving down deeper into Apple’s 4Q18 results, things may look a bit messier. The fourth quarter was one of transition for Apple as the company launched new iPhones and Apple Watches. It would not be surprising if demand for a number of product categories waned heading into September. However, stronger iPhone and Apple Watch ASP trends will more than offset unit sales weakness. (Published: October 31st, 2018)
The Gray Market's Impact on iPhone Pricing. The expanding gray market for refurbished and previously-owned iPhones continues to gain legitimacy and influence. According to my estimate, approximately 150M iPhones in use passed through the gray market. This means that nearly 20% of iPhones in the wild, including hand-me-down iPhones, were previously owned by someone else. Along with helping Apple expand its user base, the gray market is also impacting Apple’s iPhone pricing strategy in an unexpected way: by driving iPhone average selling price (ASP) higher. (Published: October 22nd, 2018)
Netflix Isn't Invincible. Netflix has been on a roll. The company is adding approximately two million paying subscribers per month while its original content portfolio grows by leaps and bounds. However, calls suggesting Netflix has won the paid video streaming war are grossly premature. In fact, the battle hasn’t even begun. We are still in the early stages of what will likely become a brutal stretch for many players as competition for paying subscribers and our time intensifies. New players, including Disney and Apple, are about to enter the scene as different direct-to-consumer business models are put to the test. Many prevailing assumptions about the paid video streaming industry will end up being proven wrong. (Published: October 10th, 2018)
Connecting the Apple Dots. Apple is following a clear and defined product strategy. Last week, Apple provided the latest look at this strategy by unveiling new iPhones and a redesigned Apple Watch. These products represent clues that help paint a picture of where Apple is headed. (Published: September 19th, 2018)
Poaching Tesla. Apple and Tesla share some similarities. Both companies possess remarkably strong brands, loyal customer bases, and products capable of maintaining that loyalty. Each also has a visionary product leader. Apple has Jony Ive while Tesla has Elon Musk. Accordingly, some have concluded that Apple should acquire Tesla as a way of quickly jumping into the transportation industry. A Tesla acquisition doesn't make sense for Apple. However, Tesla does have something that Apple has a use for: talent. (Published: September 6th, 2018)
Apple's Growth Story. Apple is on a roll. The company is seeing record high iPhone ASPs, strong momentum with Services, and a wearables platform connecting with the mass market. Revenue growth has accelerated for the past seven quarters. Apple's growth story has returned with a vengeance. Upon closer examination, it becomes evident that Apple's three primary growth levers are not created equal. While some growth levers are at risk of slowing, others are still just getting started. (Published: August 15th, 2018)
Apple 3Q18 Earnings Expectation Meters. The ingredients are in place for Apple to report an all-around solid 3Q18. If Apple reports more than $52.5B of revenue, 3Q18 would mark the company’s seventh consecutive quarter of accelerating revenue growth. A higher iPhone average selling price (ASP) driven by iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X will likely represent the largest driver behind Apple's year-over-year revenue growth. Services and wearables are positioned to represent Apple's second and third largest revenue growth drivers, respectively. (Published: July 30th, 2018)
The iPad vs. Mac Juxtaposition. Apple has always publicly supported the iPad and Mac. However, that hasn't prevented questions regarding Apple's commitment to the two product categories from popping up. In recent months, Apple has shown a new level of openness when it comes to embracing both the iPad and Mac as unique and differentiated platforms for creative endeavors. The change is noteworthy when thinking about each category's future. (Published: July 26th, 2018)
The Race to a Trillion. An arbitrary race that many have been following on Wall Street is, which company will be the first to reach a trillion dollar market capitalization? Currently, there are four legitimate contenders: Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Microsoft. However, the race to a trillion dollars ends up hiding a much more interesting development that has been unfolding on Wall Street. (Published: July 11th, 2018)
Apple Is Figuring Out What's Next. Apple used this year's WWDC to demonstrate a number of areas in which it is playing offense. This isn't a company content with letting others control the user experience found with its devices. However, one of the major takeaways from the WWDC keynote was found with something not announced on stage. Apple finds itself announcing new technologies that make more sense on form factors that don't yet exist. Management is increasingly focused on what comes next, and the answer is smart glasses. (Published: June 20th, 2018)
Above Avalon Subscriptions Turn Three. Last week, I celebrated the third anniversary of launching Above Avalon subscriptions. Those who signed up on May 13th, 2015 began their fourth year as Above Avalon subscribers. In an environment where online publishing is being questioned and doubted like never before, Above Avalon subscriptions are working. Above Avalon is an independent source of Apple analysis, 100% supported by subscriptions. The lack of dependency on ads, sponsors, or other revenue streams has played a large role in what Above Avalon has become over the past few years. In addition, Above Avalon has given me a front-row seat for watching the changing Apple news industry. (Published: May 23rd, 2018)
The Apple Services Machine. Apple's services business is remarkably strong yet surprisingly mysterious. A closer look at Apple Services reveals an apparatus, which can easily qualify as a Fortune 100 company, that isn't what it seems from the outside. Apple isn't becoming a services company focused on coming up with a myriad of ways to milk existing users. Instead, Apple's services strategy primarily reflects the company's long-held ambition of becoming a leading content distribution platform. (Published: May 15th, 2018)
Apple 2Q18 Earnings Expectations. Wall Street has major jitters when it comes to Apple's upcoming earnings release. Sentiment has decidedly swung toward the negative as questions swirl around iPhone X demand. Despite the dramatic downturn in expectations, Apple's stock price has held up remarkably well. While many eyes will be on iPhone sales tomorrow, my suspicion is that the data point won't have as much influence as consensus assumes. Instead, Apple's capital return update has the potential to be the major takeaway from 2Q18 earnings. (Published: April 30th, 2018)
Making the Case for Doubling Apple's Share Buyback Pace. Next week, Apple will provide an update to its capital return program. In what has become an annual tradition, the announcement will include a sizable increase to Apple's share repurchase authorization and a hike in the quarterly cash dividend. Given recent management commentary, Apple's overall thought process regarding capital allocation is already known. The only way Apple will be able to accomplish its capital return goals is by doubling the pace of share buyback from current levels. (Published: April 26th, 2018)
Apple Found a Wall Street Narrative. After months of iPhone sales estimates being slashed by analysts, expectations have been reset. The iPhone mega upgrade cycle of 2018 that so many were calling for is not going to happen. One assumes such a reset would have been accompanied by a significant decline in Apple's stock price. Instead, Apple shares have outperformed the market and continue to trade near all-time highs. The resiliency in Apple's stock price reflects the company finally finding a narrative on Wall Street, and it's not centered on the iPhone. Apple has become a capital allocation story. (Published: April 18th, 2018)
An Apple R&D Bonanza. After a brief lull, Apple's R&D expenditures are once again exploding higher. Apple's 2Q18 financial guidance implies the company will soon report the largest year-over-year increase in quarterly R&D expense in its history. Management is on track to spend $14 billion on R&D in FY2018, nearly double the amount spent on R&D just four years ago. The dramatic rise in Apple R&D expenditures raises questions regarding the company's product pipeline and whether management's overall approach to R&D is changing. (Published: March 15th, 2018)
Apple's Strategy for Controlling Sound. September 2016 marked the start of Apple's latest battle in what has been a multi-decade war. This newest battle was going to look and sound different. Apple had unveiled new iPhones lacking dedicated headphone jacks. The controversial move was criticized by many as a sign of Apple going too far in flexing its power and killing off legacy technologies for the sake of change. However, Apple's move wasn't about headphone jacks or even iPhones. Apple had made a big bet regarding the future of "sound on the go," and headphone wires were the enemy. We now see Apple unveiling its revised strategy for controlling sound in the home. The best way to analyze products like AirPods and HomePod is to look at them as the latest weapons in Apple's battle for controlling sound in our lives. (Published: March 8th, 2018)
The iPhone's Turning Point. Later this year, Apple will unveil a 6.5-inch screen that runs iOS. Five years ago, such a product would have been introduced as the newest member of the iPad family. However, Apple finds itself on the verge of releasing its largest iPhone to date. In fact, the device will likely be one of the largest smartphones in the market. Upon closer examination, such a dramatic change in product strategy was ultimately driven by Apple's realization that iPad mini was the wrong bet. It marked a turning point for iPhone. (Published: February 28th 2018)
The Goldilocks Era for iPhone Has Begun. Not too hot. Not too cold. The iPhone is entering a new era that can best be characterized as status quo. The days of huge growth are over, and fundamentals aren't likely to improve significantly from current levels. However, underlying dynamics found with the iPhone business will likely prevent sales and revenue from dropping precipitously in the near term. We are in the iPhone's Goldilocks era. (Published: February 21st, 2018)
Apple 1Q18 Earnings Expectations. If Apple's 4Q17 amounted to a throwaway quarter, 1Q18 earnings will prove to be much more important for Apple. For the first time in six years, Apple's FY1Q results will reflect a full flagship iPhone launch. Typically, iPhone launches have been split between Apple's FY4Q and FY1Q. On top of it all, this wasn't just any iPhone launch as it was Apple's first flagship iPhone to begin at $1,000. The iPhone X will have a major impact on Apple's 1Q18 results. (Published: January 29th, 2018)
Apple Watch Is a Bridge to the Future. Something has changed inside Apple Retail stores. On a recent trip to my local Apple Store on a Sunday afternoon, it was actually difficult to get up close to the Apple Watch tables. People were looking at and buying various Apple Watch models and bands. It brought back memories of the early hoopla found when trying out iPad for the first time. Just two years ago, the lack of crowds around the Apple Watch tables led people to wonder if the Apple Watch was a misfire. Something is changing when it comes to the way people are thinking about Apple Watch. (Published: January 23rd, 2018)
Apple Questions for 2018. The beginning of January is a great time to embrace the unknown found with the new year. Instead of trying to manufacture clarity with a long list of predictions for the new year, there is much more value in embracing the unknown and asking questions. (Published: January 10th, 2018)
Grading Apple's 2017. Apple had an eventful 2017. Over the span of just a few months, the company updated nearly its entire product line. In addition, we saw Apple unveil a number of noteworthy strategy changes and even a pivot across its major product categories. The year concluded with a handful of high-profile problems including a serious macOS security flaw, delayed software and hardware releases, and the company getting caught in a crisis of its own making involving throttling older iPhones. (Published: January 4th, 2018)
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The Grand Unified Theory of Apple Products
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Making the Case Against an Apple Television Set
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Apple Is Buying Back Shares Like There's No Tomorrow
Apple's 4Q15 Earnings Preview
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Apple Uses Good Design to Marginalize Industries
Apple Watch Is Being Severely Underestimated
Apple Is Building Its Largest Startup Ever
The Pixar iPhone
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The New Apple Era
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Apple's Cheaper Stock Buyback
Apple's Plan to Destroy the Large Cable Bundle
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U.S. Watch Sales Collapsed in June - Above Avalon Premium Week in Review
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Flops, Winners, and Outliers
AAPL 3Q15 Earnings Preview
The iPhone is Taking Over Apple
Trent Reznor Talks Apple Music & Above Avalon Premium Week in Review
Beats 1 is the New iPod and Apple's Latest Bet
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Apple's Cash Dilemma
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The Jony Ive Promotion
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Uber, Not Tesla, Will Be Apple's Competition in the Automobile Industry
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Significant R&D Increase Suggests Apple is Working on Something Big
China Mobile Is a Game Changer for Apple
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Apple 2Q15 Earnings Preview: Another Strong Quarter Driven by iPhone in China
Betting Big on the Camera
Apple's Watch Strategy Embraces the 80-20 Rule
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My Apple Watch Try-On Experience
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Apple's Music Strategy Looks Increasingly Risky
The 4-Inch iPhone 6c
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An Illusion in Switzerland
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Apple Watch Sales Estimates (Video)
Apple's Plan to Rethink Television
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Apple's Strategy for Growing iPhone Sales by 50% in Three Years
Apple Is on Track to Buy Back 20% of Itself by 2017 (Video)
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Three Month Update
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Apple is Getting Paid to Raise Debt
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Apple's New Music Strategy
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Tech Observations during the Holidays
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iPhone 6 vs. iPhone 6 Plus Sales Update
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2022 will be the last model year for the Toyota Avalon large sedan.
Toyota has confirmed that production will end in August 2022.
First introduced in 1994, the Avalon has offered five generations in the U.S.
Toyota will drop the Avalon large sedan from its lineup after the 2022 model year, as first reported by Automotive News and confirmed to C/D by a Toyota spokesperson. Production will end in August 2022 at Toyota's plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, where the company also builds the Camry and Lexus ES sedans.
The Avalon is currently in its fifth generation and has been on sale in the U.S. since 1994. Positioned above the Camry mid-size sedan, it competes in the dwindling large sedan segment that has seen numerous competitors die off in recent years. Apart from the Toyota, the Nissan Maxima, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300 are the only vehicles in this segment still on sale after the cancelations of the Chevy Impala, Hyundai Azera, Kia Cadenza, and Ford Taurus.
The fifth-generation Avalon was introduced for the 2019 model year and offers either a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, a 2.5-liter inline-four with all-wheel drive, or a hybrid drivetrain with a 2.5-liter inline-four. It sold 10,328 units through the first half of 2021 and a total of 18,421 units in 2020, similar numbers as the Maxima but far behind the Charger, which sold 42,103 units in the first half of 2021.
Toyota says that there will be no changes for the 2022 Avalon. After production ends in the fall, the company will continue to sell leftover inventory through the end of next year.
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100 Humans: Who is Avalon Warren?
100 Humans: Netflix release teaser for new experimental series
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100 Humans is the latest quirky documentary series to hit Netflix and each episode looks into a new experiment. The series dropped on Netflix on March 13 and has already had viewers talking as it includes some unusual behaviour tests. One participant in particular has stood out from the crowd, and here is everything you need to know about Avalon Warren.
In each episode of the series three presenters form a hypothesis for a human nature or behaviour experiment.
They use their cohort of 100 volunteers to find out the results, and the volunteers cover all bases in terms of age and personality.
One participant in particular has shone out from the 100 volunteers, human number six - but who is she?
The 21-year-old volunteer is actually a social media star and actress who is very popular on Instagram and YouTube.
Fans may also have seen her starring in some of BuzzFeed's Teen vs. Adult challenge videos.
READ MORE: 100 Humans Netflix hosts: Who are the hosts of 100 Humans?
Judging from her social media profiles she lives in California, which is where the series was filmed.
Fans have picked up on her "baby voice" as she sounds very young for her age.
Not all of the volunteers are involved in every experiment, but from what we have seen so far of Avalon, she was unable to complete the balloon blowing challenge.
Since taking part in the series she has accumulated a total of 31,000 followers, and many of her posts suggest she is a model.
One of her most recent posts was a video of herself watching herself on the programme, which she tagged: "Woah, the resemblance is uncanny! Just kidding".
She said: "So I worked on 100 Humans with @netflix almost two years ago! It was such a fun, unifying experience and I feel like it couldn’t have been released at a more perfect time.
"Humanity is such a beautiful thing. We’re basically just one big ‘ole family, yeah? From one human to another, I’m sending you lots and lots of love...and peace...oh and joy...and a good dosing of laughter too. #100humans"
She plays the footage of herself trying to blow up a balloon, and she ends up screaming as the balloon knocks her backwards.
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In the video she says: "So apparently on this new Netflix show 100 Humans there is a girl who looks exactly like me, it's so crazy.
"Who is this? It's craziness, what the heck? Who is that? Somebody come and get this girl, what a weeny. Just kidding, that's me."
She seems to be a fan of cosplay and shows off her impressive costumes on her Instagram account - and she is also a World of Warcraft fan.
In her podcast she says she is "proud to be a geek" and her social media followers are right behind her.
In her Twitter bio she promotes "love and kindness and all things good", and fans have fallen in love with her sweet personality.
On her YouTube channel she once made a video where she created a drink using everything she had in her fridge.
She adds mayonnaise, cranberry juice, coffee grounds and almond milk and she says: "This is not something I should be doing, I'm really sorry."
One of her fans commented saying: "Saw you on 100 humans and fell in love with you and I did a bit of digging and eventually found you through some dude linking your Instagram and Twitter on here - yay."
Other fans commented on her "natural humour".
100 Humans is available to watch on Netflix now