Apple Preparing to Crush Competition Again (UPDATED)

UPDATED: And Apple crushed just about every metric it could in its fiscal year Q2 earnings report. TheStreet's tech editor Chris Ciaccia has details here. You can also access a live Apple earnings blog (which will be archived after the fact) HERE.

Quick numbers -- EPS of $11.62 on revenue of $45.6 billion with a gross margin of 39.3%. That last number, in particular, should put a lid on the concerns of quite a few critics. 

This article speculates on -- with links to background from previous columns -- what might lie ahead for Apple as we head into the most important six months of Tm Cook's tenure as CEO ... the second half of 2014. I'll hold off on the "I Told Ya Sos" till we get deeper into that timeframe.  

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With the exception of dealing with obvious neglect of his company's retail operation post-Ron Johnson, it must be pretty cool to be Tim Cook right now.

The man has the patience of Job. And, at times, he shows the pluck of Jobs:

I'm not sure how Cook stays focused. To maintain tight lips given what Apple's (AAPL) about to do in 2014. For goodness sake, I can hardly contain myself when I'm about to publish an article I'm fired up about. I often bean spill prior to publication at my Twitter feed. I'm so fired up about the real meat of this column (it's on Page Two) I can barely set the table for it.

Unlike rumor mongers in the media and hacks in Wall Street analyst dystopia, I do not and will not claim to know Apple's exact plans. But they're starting to look obvious. And the funny thing is there's absolutely nothing anybody, from Microsoft (MSFT) to Google (GOOG), can do about it. It has come to a point where they're helpless, functioning as pawns in a game where Apple dictates tone and pace.

We have already thoroughly covered the forthcoming Android killer, iPhone 6, in a series of articles:

Apple's iPhone 6 Will Demolish Android;

Call the Cops: Apple's About to Kill Android; and most recently

Load Up on Apple Stock as Android Killer Looms.

Even rumors that Apple might delay iPhone 6 until 2015 do not dampen my educated enthusiasm. In fact, rumblings that issues with suppliers have moved Apple off schedule embolden me. If the supplier can't get the state of the art battery or 5.5-inch display done the way Apple wants it, it's the Apple way to wait until it's right and ready. Apple works from a position of strength. It operates on its own timeline, not its copycats.

When iPhone 6 hits, it will satisfy the desires of fanboys (myself included), millions of Apple holdouts and new smartphone adopters, putting even more hurt on Android, particularly in the U.S.

But that's not even what I'm excited about ...

If, as Roy Latke over at GeekWire via MacDailyNews reports, there's something Apple-related to Nike's (NKE) "decision" to stop producing its FuelBand ... look the bleep out:

In recent weeks I spoke several times with two sources in Cupertino pertaining to future products to be released by Apple later this year for the holiday season in the U.S. and Europe ...
What became clear is that the much anticipated Apple smart watch is not so much a watch as it is a smartband. It would appear that just as Apple has done with the iPhone and iPad, here too the technology giant plans to create a focal point around which a new ecosystem will evolve. To be more specific, Apple is looking to launch a smart band towards the end of this year whose collection of sensors will be able to be used not only to monitor the activity of the wearer, but also to operate other devices as a gestural controller.

Makes perfect sense. And alleviates concern that Apple would follow losers such as Intel (INTC) into the smartwatch abyss. If Intel aggressively backs something, you don't want to be a part of it (see, e.g., ultrabooks).

If Apple doesn't do a watch (in the spirit of that ugly thing Samsung is failing with), but builds on and blows away what we've seen from companies such as Jawbone and Nike -- again -- look the bleep out.

This portion of Latke's report warrants repeating ...

... here too the technology giant plans to create a focal point around which a new ecosystem will evolve. To be more specific, Apple is looking to launch a smart band towards the end of this year whose collection of sensors will be able to be used not only to monitor the activity of the wearer, but also to operate other devices as a gestural controller.

ecosystem evolution. That's been a key focal point of quite a few of my recent articles on Apple. How does Apple continue to assemble the building blocks of hardware that further pull the ecosystem together and reignite the halo effect?

but also to operate other devices as a gestural controller. Boom. Boom. Boom. BOOM.

We were poking around in the vicinity of this neighborhood last year with respect to your iPhone acting as an Apple TV remote. Who knows where it will all go, but an Apple/Nike smartband could very easily connect to a living room strategy, be it at the same time as a wearable launch or thereafter.

The bottom line -- Cook and team are taking what Apple has already done and adding components that make it not only tempting and attractive, but incredibly useful -- in the day-to-day of your business, personal and leisure life -- to own multiple devices. That's the spirit ... at the core of this ongoing conversation ... this back and forth you and I have about Apple. We'll leave the particulars to Apple (and, to some extent, Nike), speculating as to how things might take shape in future articles.

All I'll say now is that I would bet my bonus Apple politely said to Nike (where Tim Cook is a board member) drop this FuelBand noise, give us what we need and come along for the ride. Like any good Apple underling, Nike said How high?

Apple will redefine the wearables market before it even establishes itself. Companies such as Intel and Samsung think they know what it looks like (though, who knows, maybe Apple will use Intel to power whatever they're doing), but they don't. It won't look like anything meaningful until Apple makes it so.

I've already added "smartband" to my vocabulary:

This is what Apple does. If you're an Android diehard, BlackBerry (BBRY) leftover or Microsoft survivalist, get it straight ...

Poor man wanna be rich/rich man wanna be king/And a king ain't satisfied/till he rules everything

But Apple's patient. And that patience pays off. Always has. Always will. Not everybody has the luxury to exercise restraint before it delivers a butt whooping, but Apple can. 

Between iPhone 6 and this smartband -- specifics and other surprises aside -- Apple's ecosystem moves to the next level in 2014/15 and absolutely stuns the competition in the process. Just like it did to BlackBerry with iPhone. Just like it did to Microsoft when Steve Ballmer attempted to respond to iPad with the pathetic Surface tablet.

There's nothing nobody could have done, Apple's workin' 'neath the wheel, it's got its facts learned and it's preparing to unleash a fury Tim Cook has somehow managed to keep a lid on as he has endured unprecedented scrutiny and criticism since taking over as Apple CEO. 

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a full-time columnist for TheStreet. He lives in Santa Monica. Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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