Yet as a commentator and investment analyst, it's my job to look at everything that benefits and threatens the stocks I follow, and there's a lot threatening the Mac maker right now. We'll get a closer look at some of the biggies at next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Two devices I think will garner considerable attention and consumer interest:
- Samsung's Galaxy Note 8. Less a "phablet" and more a competitor to the iPad Mini, the new Note has been spotted in leaked photos posted by the good techies at SlashGear. We'll have to wait for an official announcement to get a full list of specs. I'm nevertheless expecting a warm reception from fans who love Samsung's larger-screen iProduct alternatives.
- LG's Optimus G Pro. The Android phablet that pays unintended homage to the leader of the Autobots in the Transformers comes with a 5.5-inch screen capable of playing full 1080p HD video. There's also support for LTE wireless broadband, a quad-core processor, and 32GB of storage with room for 32GB more via an external slot. Pricing hasn't been announced, but it's unlikely to be much more than a comparable Galaxy Note phablet.
Chipmakers are also pushing boundaries. NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) plans to show off the new Tegra 4i chip, which promises fast processing in a power-efficient package that includes LTE wireless broadband. ST-Ericsson will show off its own quad-core chip called the NovaTHOR L8580 operating at a breathtaking 3GHz. All signs point to an abundance of high-powered handsets to choose from.
In years past, Apple could rely on a distinction between devices for business and pleasure. No longer. Open standards and the Web have sharply reduced the sorts of platform-specific incompatibilities that forced companies to issue standardized devices. Workers now choose what they want, and the IT department adapts.
At one time, this dynamic favored Apple at BlackBerry's (NASDAQ:BBRY) expense. The company formerly known as Research In Motion saw its share of market roughly cut in half over the past four years. Now the iPhone must compete to stay relevant amid a market crowded by beautiful new handsets with extra-large screens.
Should investors be concerned? That's going too far, but large-screen alternatives such as Samsung's Galaxy Note are proving popular among a significant portion of the population. ABI Research says consumers snapped up some 83 million of these "phablets" last year and are on track to purchase another 150 million more in 2013, accounting for 18% of all smartphone shipments.
Apple isn't likely to make a phablet of its own. Not with CEO Tim Cook comparing Microsoft's tablet-cum-laptop Surface to a flying car that doesn't exactly soar. Will it matter? I still think Apple's iOS platform is developers' top choice, which gives Apple a distinct and (for now) defensible advantage.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.
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