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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Next Apple Stock

Smartphones are now mainstream, and so are tablets.  The competition for consumers are now from many manufacturers.   I expect this market to continue to be fractional-ized, akin to the car manufacturing market.  In the phone & Tablet markets it will settle into bands like the car market, BMW (Apple?) and Toyota (Samsung?), etc.

So while investing in this market can still be very profitable, the form factor is defined. Sure Android has the cool feature to touch phones shoot over data to another phone, unlike iphone, but all of this is incremental.  A new design like Google Glass will eventually take those form factors on.

Quite amazing when you think about it, the iphone was introduced in June 2007, and here we are in 2012 and the form factor is reasonably defined with tons of competitors.   

I can't but help compare this to the Ford Model T, released in 1908, and mass produced in force by 1914.   Competitors took years to take on Ford en mass.  The model T was so successful, the first model car to surpass Model T production run was the Volkswagen beetle in 1972!  Samsung has already outsold the iphone in recent quarters, although not nearly as profitable as Apple.

We have witnessed the smart phone market to be born in it's full glory and in 5 short years highly competitive sales.
For investing, the future holds the greatest gains.  Biotech, nanotech, alternative energy, and the maker community all offer opportunities for companies to be born to mirror Apple's success.   I think the nature of cell phones, tablets, and PC's cannot easily duplicate the same level of success of Apple in other fields.  But even 1/10th the success of Apple is huge for any company.

I continue to be fascinated by the Maker community, and one of the forces 3d printing.  I am watching carefully which company first makes a break to advertise end consumer 3d printer, which I fully expect in the next 5 years to be announced.   Once Pandora's box is open expect innovation in 3d printers to accelerate and consumer pricing to improve dramatically.

Already companies like Airbus and Boeing are embracing 3d printing as part of their design process.

On kickstarter today, I ran across a 3d printer that you can buy, today, for 580 bucks.  It requires your own assembly and paint.   I am amazed that for the price of a hotel stay in NYC, you can print almost any plastic object you desire.  Granted, the resolution isn't what I'd like to see, for that you need MakerBot for 2K dollars.  I can't wait to see the mass production for general public entrant to this market.

Consider selling stock in any company that makes it's living on cheap plastic parts. ;)
First two videos are summary of advantages of 3d printers, and below that, 3d metal printing, below that 3d printing of human organs! (maybe someday food?)

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