Apple And Crude Oil – By Alex Otti

Let me start with a confession. I like Apple products, from the iPod, through the iPad to the iPhone and of course the iTunes. Apple makes beautiful and very user-friendly products, and sometimes, they are intoxicating, seductive and addictive. This write-up, however, is not about the products as such, as it is about innovation and what happens when the human intellect is combined with a thinking-friendly environment and a clime that supports creativity and industry.

The story of Apple is a very interesting one. Two friends who, by the way, were school dropouts, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founded the company from their garage on April fool’s day in 1976. A third friend Ronald Wayne, was invited by Jobs to take a minority stake in the company and act as an arbiter, should the two Steves fight. The company has since grown to become the most valuable company in the world with a market capitalization of over $630b and revenues of over $216b as at the end of last year.

Their products are some of the most important products in the technology space. Apple remains one of the most innovative companies in the world. Could Apple have done so well if the founders were from and operated out of Nigeria? I believe opinion would vary on this question, but one thing we should all agree on is that our country is not wired to support startups, innovation and industry.

Of course, the founders had their fair share of challenges when they were starting. Banks were unwilling to touch them when they were trying to commercialize their innovations.  In compiling the story of Steve Jobs, Nik Rawlinson wrote that Wozniak was the real “techie” guy while Jobs was the businessman. Both of them sold something, (HP calculator by the former, and Volkswagen microbus by the latter) to finance the production of the first apple, christened “Apple 1”.

Jobs, having fixed a commercial price against Wozniak’s position of selling the computer at a price that would just cover the cost of the component parts, got a deal to sell 50 units of the computer to Mr. Paul Terrel, owner of the Byte Shop. Walter Isaacson in his book, “Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography” stated that the two youngsters didn’t have resources to fulfil the orders, neither could they get loans from banks at that time. Virtually all the parts stores, including Atari, where Jobs had worked, wanted cash for any components sold. At the end of the day, it was Byte Shop’s order that heralded the Apple Corporation.

Jobs had taken the order to a parts dealer, Cramer Electronics and convinced the manager to put a call through to Mr. Terrel to confirm the order. “Terrel was at a conference when he heard over a loudspeaker that he had an emergency call (Jobs had been persistent). The Cramer manager told him that two scruffy kids had just walked in waving an order from the Byte Shop. Was it real? Terrel confirmed that it was, and the store agreed to front Jobs the parts on thirty-day credit” The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Nigeria is the 6th largest oil producer in the world. Oil was discovered in Oloibiri in the present day Bayelsa state in 1956. There is no doubt that a lot of innovation has been introduced in the way oil is produced from the time oil was discovered and now.

 

What we have not done is to harness the opportunity such that Nigerians would be technically sound enough to take over most of the production in the country. I’m aware of all the efforts that have been made to domesticate oil production. I know about the Nigerian Content Development initiative. I also know about the Cabotage law which is not just about oil, but also about Shipping and vessel ownership.

 

I’m also not unaware of the efforts made by Nigerians to implement some of these laws in breach. I’m aware that some foreigners in connivance with unscrupulous Nigerians go into joint ventures that present Nigerians as owners of companies which in reality are foreign companies. The whole idea is to present those companies as Nigerian companies for the purpose of defeating the law on indigenous ownership and local content. This normally goes with compensation to the shortsighted Nigerian accomplices.

We have unfortunately failed to add significant value to the crude we produce. While apple has created so many products and continue to improve on existing ones, we have basically been shipping crude oil in its crudest form since it was discovered. Again, I am aware that we had set up four refineries in the past to process the crude oil into final products like diesel, premium motor spirit, kerosene, aviation fuel, etc.

 

It was a great idea to set up those refineries, but at the moment the 455,000 barrels per day refineries are operating at a shameful 5% capacity. Like I had stated elsewhere, per 2015 figures, given that our local consumption stood at 408,000 barrels per day, while we produced an average of 24,000 barrels per day, we had a wide local consumption gap of 384,000 barrels per day which is filled with importation. Meanwhile, other OPEC countries are doing a lot better.

 

Algeria, for instance, has installed refining capacity of 650,000 barrels per day and actually refines 628,000 barrels, while it consumes 418,000 barrels per day and exports 210,000 barrels per day of refined products. Kuwait with a population of 4 million people has installed refining capacity of 936,000 barrels of crude per day. It however, refines over a million barrels per day, the excess being accounted for by Gas to Liquids. Kuwaitis consume just 345,000 barrels per day while they export over 680,000 barrels of refined products per day.

 

The question to ask is who or what has bewitched us? Beyond all the primary products listed above, there is a lot we could have done with our crude to make our life better and diversify our sources of revenue. The most pathetic is that gas associated with crude production which other countries reinject or produce are flared with reckless abandon. Someone described that action as setting money on fire. Of course, little or no attention is paid to the environmental hazard of the continuous flaring of gas to host communities and their neighborhoods.

 

We also got so lazy that virtually everyone in the country is now dependent on oil. When prices came tumbling down, we all became prostrate. Meanwhile, we had demonstrated that we were just pretending when we convinced ourselves that we were an oil economy.

 

From our estimated population of over 180m people and our average production of about 1.7m barrels per day, about 370 people will share 1 barrel of oil per day and at a price of $55 per barrel, each person would be entitled to a little less than 15 cents per day and at the current exchange rate of N305 per dollar, it would amount to less than N46 apiece. I don’t know that it makes sense for us to pay as much attention to oil at the detriment of a lot of other possibilities open to us.

 

Statistics indicate that Nigeria earned $95b from petroleum exports in 2012, $90b in 2013, $77.5b in 2014 and $42b in 2015. Looking at the revenues for Apple for the same period, the company earned $157b in 2012, $171b in 2013, $183b in 2014 and $234b in 2015. The difference is very clear.

 

It is almost becoming too late for us to sit down and hold an honest conversation about the structure of our economy. Is this the way we want to continue? Where are we going to be in the next five to ten years? Can we do things differently? What sectors of the global economy would continue to boom in the foreseeable future. Can we refocus our people to become more productive and creative? I believe that all the ingredients exist to move this country from the joke of potentially great to a truly great country.

 

The most important ingredient, to my mind, is human capital. However, there must be the political will and the honesty of purpose to ensure that we harness the great potentials and the ingenuity of our people. As we go from town to town and from village to village, we are confronted with the reality of very industrious and hardworking people. But all sorts of speed breakers are placed on their way. We must begin to dismantle them for our people’s ingenuity and creativity to blossom.

 

We must first and foremost remove barriers to entry into business. There is a comparative report compiled annually by the World Bank Group referred to as “ease of doing business report”. This report rates 190 countries on a scale such that higher rankings indicate more conducive business and regulatory environments for starting and running a local firm while low rankings indicate the opposite.

 

As of last year, Nigeria ranked 169 out of the 190 countries rated. In Sub-Saharan Africa, countries that placed better than us include Mauritius 49, Rwanda 56, Botswana 71, South Africa 74, Kenya 92, Ghana 108, Zimbabwe 162, and some other 30 countries before getting to us, unenviably sitting at the 169th position. For ease of understanding, it is important that we highlight some of the issues that the World Bank measures to arrive at the report.

 

These include starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency. I thought this was important to underscore that everyone has a role to play in resolving the problem of roadblocks to creative and innovative thinking.

 

I cannot conclude without drawing the attention of the young people to some of the lessons to be learnt from the story of Apple. It is important because many a times, we are very quick to point fingers at the multitude of reasons why things could not be done. Regarding education, the two young Steves were drop-outs from school. They refused to allow that deter them.

 

They set up a joint company, complementing each other in terms of skills. These days, we want to go it alone, sharing no risks and sharing no skills. They brought in a minority shareholder who they believed could be an arbiter in case of a fracas. That was forward thinking. That banks rejected them could not stop them.

 

These days, what we hear is “I don’t have capital, banks are not lending money” etc. Those could just be excuses, and they are not new. Note that “Steve Jobs was persistent” and I dare add, creative, taking an LPO to a parts supplier to get credit. They had to sell what they had to produce the first Apple computer.

 

Sometimes, you may need to part with something of value to create better value. Finally, as they became successful, they worked harder, put on better-thinking caps and this led to new and better products. You don’t need to rest on your oars, when you think you have arrived. That is the time to work harder.

 

By the way, Apple products are so pricey going by the current dollar exchange rates. The iPhone 7 goes for anywhere between $769 and $969, the iPad sells for between $800 and $1100, the MacBook will set you back some $1000 to $2,400, and the iPod commands a tidy $400, depending on specification. Meanwhile, our crude oil is still struggling at around $55 per barrel. Just like the saying goes, you dare not compare Apples and Oranges, much less a product as crude as crude oil.

Nokia Sues Apple for Infringing on Patent Rights

Finland’s Nokia Corp (NOKIA.HE) on Wednesday said it had sued Apple Inc (AAPL.O), accusing the iPhone maker of violating 32 technology patents.

Apple sued Acacia Research Corp (ACTG.O) and Conversant Intellectual Property Management Inc [GEGGIM.UL] on Tuesday, accusing them of colluding with Nokia to extract and extort exorbitant revenues unfairly and anti-competitively from Apple.

Nokia’s lawsuits, filed in courts in Dusseldorf, Mannheim and Munich, Germany and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, covered patents for displays, user interfaces, software, antennas, chipsets and video coding.

“Since agreeing on a license covering some patents from the Nokia Technologies portfolio in 2011, Apple has declined subsequent offers made by Nokia.

“Apple also declined to license other of its patented inventions which are used by many of Apple’s products’’, Nokia said in a statement.

However, Apple and Acacia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

Tech giants refuse to help Trump build registry of Muslim-Americans

Google, Apple, and Uber have said they won’t support the development of a Muslim registry by Donald Trump, U.S. president-elect.

 

They said this to Buzzfeed news after over a thousand Silicon Valley engineers pledged never to help build a Muslim registry.

 

Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter expressed a similar standpoint a few days ago.

 

During the presidential campaign, Trump harped on the possibility of creating a register of Muslim-Americans.

 

Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, a member of Trump’s transition team, said Trump’s policy advisors began discussing a proposal to build the registry right after the election.

 

“In relation to the hypothetical of whether we would ever help build a ‘muslim registry’ – we haven’t been asked, of course we wouldn’t do this and we are glad – from all that we’ve read – that the proposal doesn’t seem to be on the table,” said a spokesperson for Google.

 

An Apple spokesperson also said: “We think people should be treated the same no matter how they worship, what they look like, who they love. We haven’t been asked and we would oppose such an effort”.

 

Uber and IBM also said “no” in response to whether they would take part in this project.

 

Oracle and Amazon, two companies that specialise in database services, haven’t clarified whether they will participate.

Apple confirms iPhone 6 plus suffering from ‘touch disease’, launches a repair program

Dubbed the multi-touch repair program for iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s new repair initiative allows customers affected by a rare screen flicker issue to fix their faulty unit for a flat $149 service fee. The company failed to detail which component or components are causing the ongoing issues, but intimated users are partially at fault.

 

“Apple has determined that some iPhone 6 Plus devices may exhibit display flickering or Multi-Touch issues after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device,” the company said.

 

Referred to as “touch disease,” the problem presents as a thin grey flickering band located toward the top of an affected iPhone 6 or 6 Plus display. In extreme cases, the band progressively extends further down the screen, ultimately impacting touch response.

 

Following user complaints in August, AppleInsider discovered the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus malady accounted for roughly 11 percent of an Apple store’s daily iPhone service volume. At the time, sources said the issue was related to iPhone’s touch controller.

 

Specifically, some units were affected by the degradation of solder joints connecting the touch controller chip to the logic board, while others saw the chip simply fail. Both scenarios could logically be tied to multiple drops on a hard surface, as Apple claims.

 

Users who believe their iPhone 6 Plus is experiencing the multi-touch problem described above should contact Apple or take their phone in to an Apple retail store or Apple Authorized Service Provider for inspection.

 

As part of the new program, Apple is reaching out to reimburse iPhone 6 Plus owners sought repairs related to the multi-touch issue through Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Customers who paid for repairs and have not yet been contacted can send a request for reimbursement directly to Apple.

Apple Fans Hit NYC Flagship Store For iPhone 7

The first Apple customers in New York City to snap the new iPhone 7 off the shelves cheered as they entered its flagship store on Friday (September 16), flanked by applauding sales staff.

“Today is my 23 days outside Apple store here in New York City,” said Jaime Gonzalez in line before the store opened. “Last year I did it but then because I didn’t pre-order, that’s the reason that I didn’t went first. There was another lady from Europe who decided to take care of the No. 1 spot. But this is me and now in 2016 it’s right to be No. 1 and I am going to be No. 1 this time.”

“I’ve been here for a week and a half,” said Andreas Francis. “I was trying to get the 7 Plus and the new jet black, but they don’t have the 7 Plus or the jet black, so I ended up getting the regular black, then the 7.”

Initial quantities of the iPhone 7 Plus have sold out globally, supplies of the larger size of Apple’s new phone have been exhausted in all shades, and the smaller iPhone 7 has also sold out in the new jet black color, the company said.

Read More: reuters

Apple Japan Unit Ordered To Pay $118m Tax for Under Reporting Income

An Apple Inc iTunes unit in Japan was ordered to pay some 12 billion yen ($118 million) in tax by local authorities after underreporting income, media reported Friday.

The unit has since paid the amount, the reports said.

The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau determined that the unit, which sends part of its profits earned from fees paid by Japan subscribers to another Apple unit in Ireland to pay for software licensing, had not been paying a withholding tax on those earnings in Japan, according to broadcaster ‘NHK’.

Apple could not be immediately reached for comment outside of U.S. business hours. The tax bureau declined to comment.

Apple and other multinational companies have come under much tax scrutiny from governments around the world.

The European Union has ordered Apple to pay Ireland 13 billion euros ($14.6 billion) in back taxes after ruling it had received illegal state aid.

Apple and Dublin plan to appeal the ruling, arguing the tax treatment was in line with EU law.

Apple Sets Stage For iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 is expected to make its global debut on Wednesday, but many consumers and investors are already setting their sights on Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) 2017 version of the popular gadget, hoping for more significant advances.

At its annual product launch in San Francisco on Wednesday, the world’s most valuable publicly traded company is expected by blogs and analysts to reveal an iPhone without a headphone jack, paving the way for wireless headphones, a touch-sensitive home button that vibrates, double-lens cameras for the larger ‘Plus’ edition and other incremental improvements.

Apple typically gives its main product, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, a big makeover every other year and the last major redesign was the iPhone 6, in 2014. The modest updates suggest that this cycle will be three years.

“It looks like part of the reason they are keeping the design the same this year is there are bigger changes they are working on for next year,” said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.

Sales of the iPhone dropped two quarters in a row this year, the first declines in the history of the device. With many consumers who purchased the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus due for an upgrade, Apple may eke out single-digit gains in sales for the 7, Dawson said.

But some consumer technology sites are advising users to hold off on upgrading until the next year’s version, which will mark the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone.

Analysts say the iPhone 8 may feature a wider display that reaches from one edge of the device to the other and a home button integrated into the screen.

Read More: reuters

Apple Music Signs Deal With Birdman, Cash Money Records

Cash Money and Apple Music are teaming up.

Birdman and his label have signed a deal with Apple Music, joining a roster of artists who are already in exclusive deals with the tech titan, according to Billboard.

Birdman teased the news on Instagram over the weekend, posing for a photo next to Apple Music’s Larry Jackson. “It’s official,” he wrote in a since-deleted caption. “Cash Money makes a power move with Apple Music.”

That “power move” will likely include an exclusivity guarantee, marking the first time a label has entered an exclusive deal with Apple as opposed to individual artists.

Jackson posted the same picture on his account, jokingly saying he signed a deal with Cash Money as an R&B singer.

“Check one off of the bucket list,” he wrote. “Signed as an R&B crooner to Ca$h Money yesterday. My life is oh so complete now…Welcome to the fam @birdman5star. Tough negotiator. Much respeck.”

The details of the deal are unknown. It’s also unclear how this will affect Cash Money’s star-studded roster. Lil Wayne is still at odds with his longtime label and mentor Baby. Meanwhile, he and Nicki Minaj both have ties to Jay Z’s TIDAL.

Elsewhere, Drake has his own deal with Apple Music that’s been quite lucrative for the 6 God.

Besides Drake, Chance the Rapper, DJ Khaled, Travis Scott, and Future are among the artists who’ve signed exclusive deals with Apple Music.

Apple Considering Tidal Music Purchase

Apple is exploring the purchase of rival music streaming service Tidal, which is run by rap star Jay-Z, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The paper said Apple is interested in using the company to beef-up its own year-old steaming service Apple Music.

Talks between the companies are ongoing and might not result in a tie-up, the Journal said, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

Executives at Tidal have not spoken with Apple about being acquired, the Journal reported, quoting a Tidal spokesperson.

Apple declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

Tidal soared in popularity early this year after Beyonce released her latest album “Lemonade” exclusively on the service, although it was also broadcast in a film version on HBO and quickly made available on iTunes.

Tidal, which had a mixed reception after its relaunch last year, has heavily promoted exclusives, such as albums by Rihanna and Kanye West.

The company has been trying to seize some of the fast-growing streaming market from Spotify, which focuses on wide and easy access rather than exclusives.

Tidal subscriptions cost $10 or $20 monthly, depending on whether a user wants high-fidelity sound.

Jay-Z bought Tidal from Europe-based Aspiro early last year in a deal valued at slightly more than $56 million.

Credit: Guardian

Apple Rejects ‘Dangerous’ Order To Hack US Shooter’s iPhone

Apple has rejected a judge’s order to help the FBI break into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, warning it was “too dangerous” to create such a backdoor to the smartphones.

US magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple on Tuesday to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the FBI, including disabling an auto-erase feature after too many unsuccessful attempts are made to unlock the iPhone 5C.

Federal prosecutors had filed a motion requesting Apple’s help after the FBI failed to crack the phone’s code two months into the investigation into the December rampage.

Syed Farook, a US citizen, and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik gunned down 14 people at an office party in San Bernardino, California, before they were killed in a shootout with police. 

But Apple said it would fight the judge’s order, firing the latest shot in a growing debate over encryption pitting the government against tech companies.

“The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement on the company’s website.

“We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

Cook said it was too risky to provide the requested software because it could allow ill-intentioned individuals to unlock any iPhone and raises major privacy concerns.

“The US government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone,” Apple said.

“In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

“While the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control,” he said, adding that Apple has cooperated with the FBI thus far.

By disabling the security features, the FBI would be able to attempt as many different password combinations as needed before gaining access to the phone.

It was the property of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, which employed Farook, and the authority had agreed to the search of the phone.

Credit: Punch

Apple To Debut New iPhones, iPads, And Apple TV On September 9

Apple’s annual fall iPhone event will likely be held on Wednesday, September 9, reports BuzzFeed‘s John Paczkowski who has provided reliable information on event dates in the past. According to sources that spoke to BuzzFeed, the event will be held during the week of September 7, with September 9 targeted as the most likely date.

The event’s focus will be on the next-generation iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, both of which will feature a Force Touch display, an A9 processor, an improved camera system, and a faster LTE chip, among other features. Apple may also unveil new iPads at the event, but the 12.9-inch iPad Pro “seems to be a wildcard,” says Paczkowski, meaning it could come at the event or at a later date.

In addition to the iPhone and iPad, Apple is also expected to unveil the next-generation Apple TV. The Apple TV will be a huge update over its predecessor, featuring an updated A8 processor, a full App Store, a touch-based remote control, and Siri integration. It will, of course, include an entirely revamped body as well.

With Apple unveiling the new iPhones on September 9, pre-orders, if available, are likely to kick off on Friday, September 11. The two devices are then likely to officially launch later in the month, perhaps on September 18. iPads and the Apple TV will probably launch during the same time frame.

Source – buzzfeed.com

Apple Beats Google, Becomes The World’s Most Valuable Brand

The 2015 edition of the Brandz Top 100 by Millward Brand is out and your favorite laptop maker has edged out your favorite search engine.

Apple’s value jumped 67% to $247 billion, while Google only increased 9% to $174 billion, according to the so-called BrandZ rankings, which factor in financial performance as well as consumer perception.

That gold MacBook probably did the trick. Have you seen it? It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Apple and Google have been jockeying for No. 1 in recent years, with Apple holding the top spot in 2012 and 2013 before Google took No. 1 last year. While the Apple Watch
has been in the news lately, it was the iPhone 6 that drove Apple’s growth this year, according to Millward Brown.

Have a look at the year’s top 10,
BrandZ Top 10

Samsung is Spending $13.8 Billion to Beat Apple to the ‘Next Big Thing’

Samsung hasn’t had the best year financially but it’s not slowing down its spending on R&D. BusinessKorea reports that Samsung spent an astonishing $13.8 billion in research and development in 2014, the single largest R&D investment in the company’s history.

Until recently, many cynics would have argued that Samsung was obviously wasting its money since its only payoff from these kinds of massive investments for a while seemed to be shallow gimmicks such as the Galaxy Gear, the Galaxy Round and the Galaxy Note Edge. However, the Galaxy S6 edge has been turning a lot of heads ever since it was unveiled at Mobile World Congress this year, which may indicate that the company’s big R&D bets are starting to yield tangible results for the first time in a while.

Interestingly, it seems that this increase in R&D spending came at the expense of Samsung’s Advertising Death Star, which BusinessKoreasays saw its budget slashed by nearly 10% year-over-year. More quality products and fewer advertisements sounds like a winning formula to us, although we won’t know for a while whether Samsung has something even better up its sleeve than the Galaxy S6 edge.

Credit: Yahoo

Dr. Dre ‘Beats’ Jay Z as hip-hop’s top earner with $620M: Forbes

Dr. Dre has been racking up plenty of other financial accomplishments. His latest: capturing this year’s hip-hop cash crown with pretax earnings of $620 million. Not only is that the highest annual total of any entertainer ever evaluated by FORBES, it’s more than the combined earnings of all 24 of his companions on the 2014 Hip-Hop Cash Kings list.

Earlier this year Apple AAPL +1.56% shelled out $3 billion to purchase Beats, the company founded by Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Though the latter quickly claimed to be hip-hop’s first billionaire, a nine-figure tax bill means that won’t happen immediately—but he’s well on his way.