Apple's stock drops. Why?

Apple has not had a good morning.

Apple has not had a good morning. Its stock has dropped 40 per cent and is now trading at a valuation which is lower than Dell.

Why is this? Well, several reasons are knocking around. Firstly, there's that Tim Cook just isn't Steve Jobs - he is not a "product visionary".  Perhaps this is why Apple's internal management is also in flux. And another problem is the products themselves. The iPhone is on its way down, and the word is there's not much that's new in the pipeline.

Here's the BBC:

While the sales of its popular iPhone and iPad have grown - they have fallen short of market expectations - and its market share has been declining.

At the same time, its biggest rival Samsung has been steadily increasing its market share, both in the smartphone and tablet PC sectors.

According to research by Gartner, in the final quarter of 2012 Samsung sold 64.5 million smartphones to Apple's 43.5 million.

However, Business Insider makes a convincing case for the defence:

  • The stock is cheap.

  • We are nearing the end of the new-product blackout that began last fall. (In relatively short order, excitement should begin to build about the iPhone 5S, the new iPad Mini, and other product refreshes, even if Apple doesn't have anything truly new up its sleeves.)

  • While Apple's management team without Steve Jobs in charge is unproven, it's not stupid. Almost all of the folks who produced and sold Apple's great products over the past five years are still on the team.

  • Apple appears to be working on a cheaper iPhone, which suggests it is finally willing to trade profit margin for growth. This is critical for the company's long-term survival, and it's something Apple should have done a couple of years ago, when it was still the industry leader. But better late than never.
  • A disastrous first quarter and second-quarter outlook should radically reduce Wall Street's expectations for Apple — thus setting the bar lower. This will make it easier for Apple to positively surprise investors in the future.
  • It is still possible that Apple is working on a revolutionary new product like a TV or smartwatch that will suddenly get people jazzed about the company again. Yes, as time goes by, this possibility seems more remote. But it's not zero. Most importantly, Apple is still well-positioned strategically, and it still makes excellent products. We are not talking about a company like Dell or HP, which are in businesses that are dying (PCs). And we're not talking about a company whose products have gone to crap. We're just talking about a company that has lost its product edge and clung too long to its super-premium pricing strategy instead of using its phenomenal profit margin and financial resources to remain both the quality leader AND the price leader. The global smartphone and tablet industries are going to continue grow rapidly over the next several years. Assuming Apple makes smart decisions on the pricing side, Apple should grow with them.
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Why Clive Lewis was furious when a Trident pledge went missing from his speech

The shadow defence secretary is carving out his own line on security. 

Clive Lewis’s first conference speech as shadow defence secretary has been overshadowed by a row over a last-minute change to his speech, when a section saying that he “would not seek to change” Labour’s policy on renewing Trident submarines disappeared.

Lewis took the stage expecting to make the announcement and was only notified of the change via a post-it note, having reportedly signed it of with the leader’s office in advance. 

Lewis was, I’m told, “fucking furious”, and according to Kevin Schofield over at PoliticsHome, is said to have “punched a wall” in anger at the change. The finger of blame is being pointed at Jeremy Corbyn’s press chief, Seumas Milne.

What’s going on? The important political context is the finely-balanced struggle for power on Labour’s ruling national executive committee, which has tilted away from Corbyn after conference passed a resolution to give the leaders of the Welsh and Scottish parties the right to appoint a representative each to the body. (Corbyn, as leader, has the right to appoint three.)  

One of Corbyn’s more resolvable headaches on the NEC is the GMB, who are increasingly willing to challenge  the Labour leader, and who represent many of the people employed making the submarines themselves. An added source of tension in all this is that the GMB and Unite compete with one another for members in the nuclear industry, and that being seen to be the louder defender of their workers’ interests has proved a good recruiting agent for the GMB in recent years. 

Strike a deal with the GMB over Trident, and it could make passing wider changes to the party rulebook through party conference significantly easier. (Not least because the GMB also accounts for a large chunk of the trade union delegates on the conference floor.) 

So what happened? My understanding is that Milne was not freelancing but acting on clear instruction. Although Team Corbyn are well aware a nuclear deal could ease the path for the wider project, they also know that trying to get Corbyn to strike a pose he doesn’t agree with is a self-defeating task. 

“Jeremy’s biggest strength,” a senior ally of his told me, “is that you absolutely cannot get him to say something he doesn’t believe, and without that, he wouldn’t be leader. But it can make it harder for him to be the leader.”

Corbyn is also of the generation – as are John McDonnell and Diane Abbott – for whom going soft on Trident was symptomatic of Neil Kinnock’s rightward turn. Going easy on this issue was always going be nothing doing. 

There are three big winners in all this. The first, of course, are Corbyn’s internal opponents, who will continue to feel the benefits of the GMB’s support. The second is Iain McNicol, formerly of the GMB. While he enjoys the protection of the GMB, there simply isn’t a majority on the NEC to be found to get rid of him. Corbyn’s inner circle have been increasingly certain they cannot remove McNicol and will insead have to go around him, but this confirms it.

But the third big winner is Lewis. In his praise for NATO – dubbing it a “socialist” organisation, a reference to the fact the Attlee government were its co-creators – and in his rebuffed attempt to park the nuclear issue, he is making himeslf the natural home for those in Labour who agree with Corbyn on the economics but fear that on security issues he is dead on arrival with the electorate.  That position probably accounts for at least 40 per cent of the party membership and around 100 MPs. 

If tomorrow’s Labour party belongs to a figure who has remained in the trenches with Corbyn – which, in my view, is why Emily Thornberry remains worth a bet too – then Clive Lewis has done his chances after 2020 no small amount of good. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.