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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France’s burkini ban could not come at a worse time

Yet more legislation against veiled women can only further divide an already divided nation.

Since mayor of Cannes David Lisnard banned the full-body burkini from his town’s beaches, as many as 15 French resorts have followed suit. Arguments defending the bans fall into three main categories. First, it is about defending the French state’s secularism (laïcité). Second, that the costume represents a misogynistic doctrine that sees female bodies as shameful. And finally, that the burkini is cited as a threat to public order.

None of these arguments satisfactorily refute the claims of civil rights activists that the bans are fundamentally Islamophobic.

The niceties of laïcité

The Cannes decree explicitly invokes secular values. It prohibits anyone “not dressed in a fashion respectful of laïcité” from accessing public beaches. However, the French state has only banned “ostentatious” religious symbols in schools and for government employees as part of laïcité (the strict separation between the state and religious society). And in public spaces, laïcité claims to respect religious plurality. Indeed, the Laïcité Commission has tweeted that the ban, therefore, “cannot be based upon the principle of laïcité”.

While veils covering the entire face such as the burqa or niqab are illegal, this is not to protect laïcité; it is a security matter. The legal justification is that these clothes make it impossible to identify the person underneath – which is not the case for the burkini.

 

By falling back on laïcité to police Muslim women in this way, the Cannes authorities are fuelling the argument that “fundamentalist secularism” has become a means of excluding Muslims from French society.

Colonial attitudes

Others, such as Laurence Rossignol, the minister for women’s rights, hold that the burkini represents a “profoundly archaic view of a woman’s place in society”, disregarding Muslim women who claim to wear their burkini voluntarily.

This typifies an enduring colonial attitude among many non-Muslim French politicians, who feel entitled to dictate to Muslim women what is in their best interests. Rossignol has in the past compared women who wear headscarves through choice to American “negroes” who supported slavery.

Far from supporting women’s rights, banning the burkini will only leave the women who wear it feeling persecuted. Even those with no choice in the matter are not helped by the ban. This legal measure does nothing to challenge patriarchal authority over female bodies in the home. Instead, it further restricts the lives of veiled women by replacing it with state authority in public.

Open Islamophobia

Supporters of the ban have also claimed that, with racial tensions high after recent terrorist attacks, it is provocative to wear this form of Muslim clothing. Such an argument was made by Pierre-Ange Vivoni, mayor of Sisco in Corsica, when he banned the burkini in his commune. Early reports suggested a violent clash between local residents and non-locals of Moroccan origin was triggered when strangers photographed a burkini-wearing woman in the latter group, which angered her male companions. Vivoni claimed that banning the costume protected the security of local people, including those of North African descent.

Those reports have transpired to be false: none of the women in question were even wearing a burkini at the time of the incident. Nonetheless, the ban has stood in Sisco and elsewhere.

To be “provoked” by the burkini is to be provoked by the visibility of Muslims. Banning it on this basis punishes Muslim women for other people’s prejudice. It also disregards the burkini’s potential to promote social cohesion by giving veiled women access to the same spaces as their non-Muslim compatriots.

Appeals to public order have, occasionally, been openly Islamophobic. Thierry Migoule, head of municipal services in Cannes, claimed that the burkini “refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements”, conveniently ignoring the Muslim victims of recent attacks. Barely a month after Muslims paying their respects to friends and family killed in Nice were racially abused, such comments are both distasteful and irresponsible.

Increased divisions

Feiza Ben Mohammed, spokesperson for the Federation of Southern Muslims, fears that stigmatising Muslims in this way will play into the hands of IS recruiters. That fear seems well-founded: researchers cite a sense of exclusion as a factor behind the radicalisation of a minority of French Muslims. Measures like this can only exacerbate that problem. Indeed, provoking repressive measures against European Muslims to cultivate such a sentiment is part of the IS strategy.

Meanwhile, the day after the incident in Sisco, riot police were needed in nearby Bastia to prevent a 200-strong crowd chanting “this is our home” from entering a neighbourhood with many residents of North African descent. Given the recent warning from France’s head of internal security of the risk of a confrontation between “the extreme right and the Muslim world”, such scenes are equally concerning.

Now more than ever, France needs unity. Yet more legislation against veiled women can only further divide an already divided nation.

The Conversation

Fraser McQueen, PhD Candidate, University of Stirling

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.