Earlier this week at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple unveiled its long-rumored reboot of Beats Music. In some respects, this day was one that many who have followed streaming music since its inception have anticipated and dreaded.

Many have waited for the day Apple, with its juggernaut marketing muscle and insatiable appetite to create a market out of thin air, got behind subscription music. Many posited that this would be the day that streaming music would finally come of age.

In the 13 years since Rhapsody introduced the first licensed subscription service, the product has been on the fringes of the mainstream. Even today, only 41 million people around the world pay for an on-demand music service.

Why the dread? Many in the business who have been here since the beginning felt that the day Apple came into the market, it would be game-over for them. Many believed that powerful Apple would take all the oxygen out of the market and there would be no room for other players in the field.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 12, 2015 at 14:34 pm and is filed under Digital Media, Investing.
Keywords: Apple, Apple Music, Jimmy Iovine, Rhapsody, Streaming Media

This week in San Francisco, Apple is running its Worldwide Developers Conference, which affords it even more ways to hog the technology news cycle by announcing many new tech developments. Let's recap some of what's going on.

Many pundits already accuse Apple's WWDC as being a bit dull, filled with copycat moves such as offering multitasking on iPads (yawn). But, of course, the real news is the debut of the Apple Music subscription streaming music service, in a bid to take down market leader Spotify.

The Apple Music service launches on June 30 and will cost $9.99 a month, the same price as Spotify's ad-free subscription service. Spotify raised $400 million earlier this year at an $8 billion valuation, so it is currently perceived as the leader in music streaming. As we reported in February, Spotify announced that it had reached 15 million paying subscribers and 60 million total users in January of this year. 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 09, 2015 at 14:24 pm and is filed under .
Keywords: Apple, Apple Music, Spotify, Jimmy Iovine, Apple IOS

Apple Inc. is building its own high-speed network to deliver higher performance for its cloud services and may start using white-box switches, according to Bloomberg.

Apple will upgrade its private network connecting its data centers and cloud services such as iTunes, Siri, and its upcoming music streaming service, according to Bloomberg writer Peter Burrows, a regular on the networking beat.  To connect its data centers to the network, Apple is also considering using a Top of Rack (ToR) white-box switch that would include the Cumulus Networks operating system and be manufactured by Quanta, says the article, which can be read here

White-box switches use open, interchangeable components from a wide range of emerging vendors rather than relying on integrated solutions from major suppliers such as Cisco and Juniper. 

This entry was posted on Monday, June 08, 2015 at 14:12 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Applications, Investing.
Keywords: Apple, Top of Rack, Cumulus Networks, White Boxes

(Editor's Note: This is a contributed piece from wearable tech expert Julien Blin. It first appeared on Facebook and Blin has published another version on Medium. It has been slightly edited.)

2014 again marked the confirmation that the wearable tech and IoT space is vibrant, legit and here to stay, with the emergence of new innovative startups, successful exits (e.g. Basis, acquired by Intel), and the official entry of Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) into the space with the launch of the Apple watch. 

First, what happened in 2014?

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 16:51 pm and is filed under .
Keywords: Wearable tech, Intel, Facebook, IoT, Apple, Apple Watch

(Editor's Note: The numbers of the model portfolio have been adjusted to reflect the final closing prices for 12/31/2014, including a steep market selloff in the waning hours of 2014, probably due to tax-loss selling.)

It's the last day of the year, so it's time to update the results of our annual tradition, the Rayno Report Portfolio, our stock picks for the year. The Rayno Report Portfolio had a great year with an return of 17.5%, beating the average indices including the S&P 500 Index, which returned 11.30%  

The total return was boosted by about 2% if you include dividends, making the total return of the portfolio about 20%

Where does the model come from? I've been building model portfolios since 2004 based on a proprietary stock selection portfolio that looks for healthy, growing companies with relatively low valuations. It's based on a basic low-PEG (Price/earnings/growth) formula. It uses a proven, quantitative model based on the work of outstanding fund manager Joel Greenblatt. Once I have a list of promising, low-PEG companies, I dig further into the individual companies and trends. This approach is designed to provide good returns with lower-than-average risk. 

A big part of our portfolio's success this year was tied to mobile networks and Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL), which we've been telling people has been undervalued for years. Apple had a great year, up 45%, boosted by a new product cycle and stock buybacks. But the biggest story in our portfolio was Skyworks Solutions (Nasdaq:SWKS), a big wireless chip supplier to Apple and others, which rose 166%

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 15:37 pm and is filed under .
Keywords: Apple, stocks, Rayno Report Portfolio, Skyworks Solutions

Investment bank Cowen & Co. is raising its price target and outlook on Apple Inc. (AAPL) based on a survey of 4,500 adults in U.S. and China that indicates strong demand for the new iPhone 6 and 6+.

Cowen has raised the Apple price target to $110 from $106. Cowen is modeling sales of 120 million iPhone 6/6+ units in the first 12 months, which is above Wall St. consensus, and Cowen analysts believe those projections may be "conservative," according to a research note published this morning by Cowen analysts Timothy Arcuri and Bryan Prohm.

The survey of 4,500 adults in the U.S. and China indicates that battery life, screen size, and chip speed of the new iPhone models are strong drivers for upgrades. 

This entry was posted on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 13:51 pm and is filed under Mobile.
Keywords: Apple, iPhone, iPhone 6, Battery Life, Android

The legendary band U2 came on stage at the end of the Apple Extravaganza this week, introducing the world to a pair of iPhone 6 models (big and freaking huge I think are the product names), Apple Pay and the Apple Watch. The band’s had a rough go of it recently. Their last release, No Line On The Horizon, disappointed both fans and critics and it seemed like they might have lost their relevance.

This is a band that has defied age and found ways to make themselves new again and again. Had time finally caught up with the band? Potentially, and it frightened them. Bono was quoted saying U2 didn’t want to be a heritage act. Being contemporary was much more important, he said. But it wasn’t easy. “To be relevant is a lot harder than to be successful,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. So making money isn’t the way the band judges itself. After all, U2’s latest tour broke records in terms of attendance and revenue, yet they still craved relevancy. 

This entry was posted on Friday, September 12, 2014 at 15:11 pm and is filed under Mobile, Digital Media, Investing.
Keywords: Apple, Apple Watch, Tim Cook, U2, Bono, Apple Pay

Wait, what? The Apple Watch (AAPL) doesn't work without an iPhone? Isn't that like requiring me to operate my oven in order to use my toaster?

As Apple states simply in promotional materials: "The Apple Watch will require the iPhone to work." Yes, you can tell the time with it, but most of the advanced features, and anything requiring cellular connectivity, will require you to pair it with an iPhone.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 14:02 pm and is filed under Mobile, Digital Media, Investing.
Keywords: Apple, Apple Watch, iPhone, Jony Ive, Samsung

Apple shares enjoyed modest gains this morning after a solid earnings report yielding $10.3 billion in cash flow for the quarter. The stock rose $1.50 (1.5%) to $96.22 in early morning trading. 

For the fiscal third quarter ending June 28, 2014, Apple posted revenue of $37.4 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share. That compared to revenue of $35.3 billion and net profit of $6.9 billion, or $1.07 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. More importantly, the company's margins are back on the rise: Gross margins climbed to 39.4 percent compared to 36.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that iPhone and Mac sales fueled the growth and resulted in the strongest profit growth in seven quarters. The company returned $8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the June quarter.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 14:05 pm and is filed under Mobile, Investing.
Keywords: Apple, Tim Cook, iPhone, Earnings, Carl Icahn

The Rayno Report model portfolio, based on an analysis of growth stocks that trade with a reasonable valuation based on a price/earnings/growth (PEG) ratio, continues to outperform the major indices with an average gain of 14% this year (or 14.4% to be exact).

In January we announced our new picks, as we do every year. The portfolio has a record of beating the market overall since 2004, and it has never had a down year. Our lower risk PEG-based model portfolio has roared ahead this year, showing the staying power of an approach that uses valuation discipline. The overall 14.4% gain on the portfolio would have been achieved with a fully invested portfolio. With only 50% of the cash invested, (as we recommended at the start of the year), the portfolio would be up 7.2%. 

In contrast, the S&P 500 Index is up 6.18% year-to-date (YTD), which means the portfolio beat the S&P 500 even if half of it had been kept in cash. This adheres to our lower risk approach of investing less as the market climbs. 

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 14:51 pm and is filed under Investing.
Keywords: Model Portfolio, Stocks, Apple