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Perhaps counterintuitively, the boost in the Microsoft brand over the past year has not meant an increase in its marketing budget. In fact, the company has spent less money over the past few years, investing $1.5 billion in 2017, $1.6 billion in 2016 and $1.9 billion in 2015. Kathleen Hall, Microsoft’s corporate vp of brand, advertising and research, says the company has evolved over the past year from being product led to blending storytelling with engineering.
-- Marty Swant

Is on point, on several topics, actually. On Apple's market-tanking news:

Now, if Cook is smart – and he is – then he will have overplayed the shock a little now in order to create some good news at the end of the month.

A few of us were talking about this in the office, today. Not about Apple specifically, but how just like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that offered companies a golden opportunity to write-down everything they could dig-up, the current bear market is allowing companies across the board, to temper expectations about their Q4 results. It's a free ride! Everybody knows the economy sucks (even though it doesn't) because the market is in the tank. With a company's stock already in the toilet, a CEO would be crazy not to take advantage of lowering expectations, at this point.

Lovejoy's other point, and the main one of his piece, is that Apple needs an SE2:

...if Apple wants to resume growth in the world’s most populous market, it’s going to need to respond...Apple needs something to sit where the iPhone SE did: a modern phone at around the $400 mark.

I might not be the typical iPhone user, but I love the SE (my 80-year old dad loves the big screen and face recognition on the X). Sure, it doesn't have a big sexy screen, but it fits in my pocket and it runs all day on a charge. The camera is workable, if not great, and the performance is more than adequate. Many of the photos on this blog are posted directly from the SE (via Safari, not the WordPress app).

If it happens, will an SE2 be larger than the SE? Sadly, I think it will. But perhaps it will still fit in my pants pockets.

-- Scrib

DeLorean Time Machine

Amazon is obviously not satisfied with the wild success of its free 2-day shipping for Prime members, as they add even more Boeing 767 freighter aircraft to their fleet. The ten new planes will bring their total number of 767's to 50 aircraft, supporting new regional airfreight distribution hubs in Dallas-Fort Worth (2019) and Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky (2021). Clearly Amazon is investing heavily on staying ahead of any potential competition.

Here's a hint of optimism among the doom-and-gloom of this bear market. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Uber has countered Lyft's S1 filing, with a filing of its own. More important for the overall market, though, was this little tidbit:

Based on the pipeline of potential IPOs, which includes data-mining company Palantir Technologies Inc., Slack Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc., 2019 could be a record-breaking year for market debuts in terms of dollars raised. It could top the high-water mark reached in 2000, when tech companies raced to cash in on lofty valuations at the height of the dot-com boom.

This bodes well for the market and I'm pretty confident that we will see new all-time highs in 2019, so I think these companies have chosen a wise time to file their S1's. Would you invest in Uber? The WSJ says that Toyota got in at a $76B valuation and that they could go public at $120B. They're burning through cash faster than Tesla, which surprises me.

-- Scrib

Sorry, no pix to show - just some five-year old commentary on Yahoo's $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr. The concern at the time was that premium advertisers would not want their content displayed on pornography Tumblogs.

Tumblr is an opt-in model. The user chooses who she is following, and what content is pumped into her Tumblr feed. Advertisers are advertising to users more than they are against content.
-- Jay Yarow, May 20, 2013

Except when you're Verizon (the current owner of Tumblr) and you get kicked-out of Apple's App Store. Now all of a sudden we got standards!

-- Scrib

The implosion of media companies reminds us that affirmation can be a trap, if it leads an organization down the road of sameness. It’s good to be forward-leaning, engaged and smart but if we start chasing those kudos at the expense of differentiation, we become just another voice in a sea of sameness.