APPL’s Stock Struggles, NFLX’s Bandersnatch, and Where We Go From Here

Yesterday, Apple’s stock closed at a major deficit, causing the overall market to take a hit. If you want to know more about the stock side of things, check out the NYT or WSJ. They can explain it better than I can. What I’m here to talk about is the trajectory of American business and the role we, as young professionals and creative minds, need to be focused on playing.

Innovation is the name of the game but how do you innovate when everything you thought could be done is being done. Seriously, we just reached Ultima Thule (no, that’s not a car by Nissan) and a manned SpaceX rocket could take off as soon as 2019 (Oh s***! We’re in 2019!). Smartphones (or smartwatches or tablets or whatever other piece of tech you always have with you) are extensions of ourselves, essentially making us cyborgs, minus the inserted chip. It is an amazing time to be alive. But it’s also a confusing one. What is the final frontier? Where do we go from here? What are humans if we’re not continuing to push the society around us forward?

That is an issue that Apple is obviously struggling with. Yes, trade issues between the East and West were pinpointed as the reason for Apple’s terrible finish on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (yes, I looked up what NASDAQ stood for so you wouldn’t have to). But, Apple users, let’s be honest: the advancements we’ve seen lately are disappointingly underwhelming and increasingly overpriced. Why does a new iPhone XS, at $999, cost 77% of what a Mac Book Pro does? (I intentionally chose the least expensive versions of these items. Bells and whistles cost more, of course.) I know, I know… I can do almost everything with an XS that I can with a MBP but it still doesn’t change the fact that I’m paying so much for cellular phone. And, not to mention, the new features to the phone aren’t that great. I wasn’t inclined to upgrade my phone this time and I probably won’t be unless A) some major changes come out or B) the updates stop working (which usually happens after a few generations).

What does this have to do with Bandersnatch? I’m glad you asked. Bandersnatch is Netflix’s movie version of the extremely popular show “Black Mirror,” a show that didn’t have enough episodes to satisfy my interest but hopefully they’ll bring it back. The good thing is I cannot give anything of substance away about Bandersnatch because I’ve only seen one scene so far but I will say this: even if the movie isn’t good, the concept is simultaneously out of this world and eerily nostalgic. Remember, as a kid, reading books where the ending was up to you? I want to say Goosebumps and Animorphs had some like this but I’m sure a ton of other series did as well. Bandersnatch is that in movie form. I can only imagine the planning and time spent in shooting, editing, and coding that had to go into making this movie work but, once again, Netflix has set a new standard. Only, this time, in order to look forward, it first had to look back.

Innovation is the name of the game but, as Netflix has shown us that the answers are sometimes behind us. Brands like Apple have spent so much time pushing the bar forward that they’re starting to hit a brick wall. So, why not look back at something pre-modern technology that changed an industry and reformat it to improve our modern lives? Just a thought for Apple, General Motors, and any other company that is having a hard time being innovative.

You may have a hard time teaching an old dog new tricks but maybe you can teach a new dog a few old ones.

 

Make innovation a priority.

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Putting Away Childish Things

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” — I Corinthians 13: 11

When I grew up, I didn’t always have the newest gadgets and toys under the Christmas tree or waiting beside my birthday cake. I specifically recall getting a Super Nintendo Entertainment System at the time the first PlayStation was released and, once the PlayStation 2 came out, I got the PlayStation. My little brother and I were always cool with it because the person I was most concerned with beating in games was him anyway and, if I needed to learn the other systems, I could always go play at Sean’s or Dame’s houses (my first cousins). Not to gripe, just to give you all some perspective. Ok, stage set. Moving out of the 1990s and into 2018.

Two weeks ago, I purchased a MacBook Pro. A couple weeks before that, I copped an iPhone X. For me, these are major purchases. The phone, not so much outside of the price tag. I didn’t get a cellphone until I was a senior in high school but I’ve always had a pretty capable mobile device because I rarely had a computer of my own that was reliable. But the laptop thing? I just didn’t see the value associated with spending an obscene amount on a computer when a $300 Microsoft Surface from Best Buy could do the same thing. I grew up thinking that it wasn’t the weapon but the wielder that won the war. And, while that is true in the long run, imagine being a master wielder with subpar weaponry and then securing tools that can enhance your skillset?

I could write on anything. Shoot, I jot down pages for my book on my phone when I’m on the move. But when it comes to designing things for projects and editing webpages and, most importantly for me as relates to this, working on photography, my MacBook adds a level of clarity that I just was not getting on a Lenovo laptop. While my Lenovos have been workhorses and I am grateful for that, at this stage, if nothing but the resolution on the screen, the extra dollars I put into making this decision will pay off tenfold in the long run.

This post isn’t about Mac vs. IBM or PlayStation vs. Nintendo or elevating the perception of where you are financially. If that’s what you got out of it, you may have missed the purpose so I’ll break it down for you. Just because you were raised with a certain mindset or in a particular circumstance doesn’t mean you have to maintain that. And it’s not that there was necessarily a problem with that mindset then. But, when you know better, you do better. I didn’t need a new gaming system every other year so it would’ve been inconsequential at the time had it not been for the impact it had toward my attitude on technology. But, as I see the benefits associated with investing in my streams of income, I’m making those investments for more deeply rooted reasons. And, yes, there is a cost associated as well as a learning curve, but I’m a lifelong learner who, Lord willing, has time to recoup the investment cost. And, if not, I think the money spent on a MacBook will be the least of my thoughts.

 

Make investing in your goals a priority.

Putting the Phone Down

How many of you have problems putting your phone down? I know I did. For a while, I had to have it on me at all times. It was only recently that I began intentionally leaving it in my office when I’d make a run across campus. Or, when I’m at home, sometimes I will let it die. Why? Because, at those times, I can be reached in the case of an emergency (at work, I can be reached at my work number and at home, anyone who really needs me can get me through Desirée.

But why let your phone die? Because it is liberating to not be chained to an 8 ounce piece of technology. We were not made to always be connected. Sometimes we need solace. Smart phones do not allow us that basic necessity.

Next weekend, take a day away from your phone. At least half a day. It is cathartic. And the world will keep spinning without you responding to every iMessage or e-mail within a half hour.

And for all of you who, like me, try to find loopholes in things, put your tablet and computer away as well. Spend time reading or talking with a loved one or working out or anything but being consumed by technology.

 

Make professional development a priority.