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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Are you up to the job?

There seems to be a debate as to whether teachers need a special qualification to be allowed into a government funded classroom.  I have looked up the senior members of staff at my former school and discovered that three of them do have a BA(Ed) or similar, but no PCGE's or whatever. Lord Denning (Maths) taught there for a year before he went on to do other things in The Law, and probably very interesting he was too.

Still, various MPs are raving about this in the media.  Of course, state funded MPs are paid more than state funded teachers. That wasn't always the case. Why are they paid more? Because, they would say, they do a more important job.

So where is the specific qualification that allows them to do this job.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Windfalls and thin slices

We have quite a big garden, and in that large space we have quite a few apple trees, which at this time of the year means we have a lot of apples, and this year's harvest has been as good as last year's which bodes well for this year's production of chutney, apple crumble and more.One of those mores, which will start next week when the Aga gets fired up will be the baking of thin slices of apple, which make a very healthy snack for the winter.  Think crisps without the salt and less starch.

Thinly sliced apples seems to be a metaphor for our times, or at least for the world famous phone manufacturer from Cupertino. A few weeks ago I bought a tablet.  Not one of the Californian wonder products, but a smaller version running a different operating system from a famous UK supermarket chain, at 25% of the price of a MacBook-without-a-keyboard. And very good it is too. It may not outperform a fully blown iWhatsit, but it is a lot better than the same size iWhatsit Mini that came out last year, at half the price (or even less with loyalty vouchers). And it is not the only offering at a similar price bracket.

This year Apple hit back - with a *thinner* model.  Well I have been buying technology for decades, following trends, buying when I though I could see the way things were going, but I have never, repeat never, chosen any technology simply because it was slimmer than the competition, and even more emphatically, I wouldn't pay twice the price for half the thickness.

Which is why I see the whole of Apple going the same way.  In the latest reported figures, sales are up, but margins are down.  Increased sales are mostly of the iPhone 5C, a model designed for mass sales in the Chinese market, but net margins have fallen below 35%: still eye-wateringly high but decreasingly rapidly.  The number of fools willing to pay over the odds for so-so technology has its limits, and the Chinese appear to fall outside that category.

My forecast for Apple is that their ability to screw more money from a fairly limited product range is not going to be enough to sustain the current Market Cap.  In the long term we are all dead, but in 2014 expect the maggots to show in the Apple share price.