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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

Category: Apple
April 29, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Swans, iTunes, Feds and Dreamliners flying

• If you’re attending the Investment Management Consultants Association’s annual conference at the Washington State Convention Center, you’ll get a chance to hear Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who is scheduled to speak today. His 2007 book on random, unpredictable events, The Black Swan, came out in 2007 and the title became a synonym for the financial crash that so few saw coming. (Nouriel Roubini, the NYU professor who also foresaw the disaster, later called it a “white swan” because financial bubbles and crashes go back centuries, but nevermind).

Taleb’s new book, Antifragile, looks at how to build human systems that not only resist shocks but get better as a result. Taleb often takes on critics using Twitter and Facebook. Recently, he was ambushed himself. Mirth ensued. On Wednesday, the conference has scheduled Neil Barofsky, who was the special inspector general over the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

• Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the Apple iTunes Music Store. How long is that in Internet years?

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Comments | More in Apple, Boeing

October 1, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Seattle-area companies make top brands survey

Puget Sound companies put in a respectable showing in the 13th annual Best Global Brands report from Interbrand, a consulting outfit owned by the Omnicom Group. It ranks brands the top 100 brands based on “ongoing investment and management of the brand as a business asset.” Among the criteria: Brand strength (“the ability of the brand to secure the delivery of expected future earnings”); financial performance and the role of brand (“the portion of the decision to purchase that is attributable to brand–this is exclusive of other aspects of the offer like price or feature”).

Microsoft is No. 5 out of 100, followed by Amazon.com at No. 20, and Starbucks at 88. Oregon’s Nike placed at 26. The top spot went to Coca-Cola, followed by Apple.

Amazon was the second biggest brand riser, up from 36 in 2010 and 26 in 2011. The survey comments, “…Amazon has much to celebrate. However, its unfriendly stance toward unions, hardball battles to evade sales taxes in certain parts of the U.S., and a highly publicized story about the harsh treatment of workers in a Pennsylvania warehouse last year have put a dent in the company’s image. To leverage the full potential of its brand, Amazon needs to manage the reputation of its business and work to improve employee relations.”

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Comments | More in Amazon.com, Apple, Consumer products, Consumer spending, Costco Wholesale, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Starbucks, T-Mobile

September 21, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Vote: Is Apple stock still worth buying?

With the new iPhone 5 as tailwinds, Apple shares led the stock market higher today. A reader comments: “It is during my short lifetime, but just barely, that there was a day when less than one million shares were traded on the NYSE in a single day. An hour and a half into trading today, 7 + million shares of AAPL had traded hands.”

This on a day that the Wall Street Journal carried a story, “Apple Makes a Wrong Turn,” detailing the company’s move to replace Google’s mapping software with its own and prompting a customer backlash. It is a rare blunder, to be sure, but Apple is still in the new post-Steve Jobs territory. The New Republic trenchantly holds out the possibility of decline. And its shares, at $704, are pricey. On the other hand, its P/E is an affordable 16.62.

What do you think?

Would you buy Apple?

Read on for the best links of the week and the econ haiku:

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Comments | More in Apple, Tech economy

March 30, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Vote: Will Apple’s labor reforms mean a breakthrough?

After the investigative journalism of the New York Times revealed the sweat-shop conditions in China that go into making Apple’s super-cool products, Apple engaged the Fair Labor Association to do an independent audit. CEO Tim Cook also visited a Foxconn assembly line in Zhengzhou this week. The audit confirmed major violations of labor law. There’s a reason Foxconn has been plagued by suicides.

Now Apple and Foxconn (which also does work for Amazon.com and others) are pledging to do better. Among the reforms: Better wages and working conditions. What do you think?

Reforms at Foxconn

Read on for the best links of the week and the haiku:

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Comments | More in Apple

March 16, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Vote: Is Apple unstoppable?

The death of Steve Jobs and a devastating report in the New York Times on worker conditions in China did nothing to stop the upward fortunes of Apple. The new iPad was launched to universal acclaim and Apple shares hit a record.

Can the company keep ahead of its Android competitors and the ambitions of Microsoft to get back in the game? That’s the question in today’s poll:

My core belief about Apple

Read on for the best links of the week and the haiku:

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Comments | More in Apple, Microsoft, Stock market, Tech economy


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