EXCLUSIVE: Apple To Unveil The Long-Awaited Retina MacBook Air At Its “Spring Forward” Event

exclusive report macbook air retina picture

Last week, Apple sent out the invites for its “Spring Forward” event, slated to be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on March 9th.

Many are expecting Apple talk more about the Apple Watch. However, sources familiar with the matter within Apple have exclusively told The Michael Report that Apple plans to unveil the long-awaited Retina MacBook Air at the same event. The Michael Report has independently verified this information to be highly credible.

We should note that this information falls in line with what Apple analysts such as KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo and Morgan Stanley’s Andrew Uerkwitz have been predicting for months. Supply chain sources who spoke to the press have also said that Apple ramped up their production in late 2014 and entered the mass production stage in December, with the goal of producing enough units for an early-2015 debut.

Apple’s MacBook Air line, which got upgraded in April last year (the only real upgrade being a small speed bump), still features a non-Retina screen with the same screen resolution that hasn’t been updated since late 2010. This is a stark contrast from the rest of the Apple computer lineup, which have been steadily upgraded to a Retina (or at least, a version of it is offered) screen since the first Retina MacBook Pro was unveiled in 2012.

The upcoming Retina MacBook Air, if earlier reports are to be believed, will come in an ultra slim design that combines the productivity of the current larger-screened 13-inch MacBook Air with the portability of the 11-inch MacBook Air.

Internally, the new Retina MacBook Air is said to feature Intel’s next-generation Broadwell Core M low-power processors, which would allow Apple to strip the computer of its fan assembly to create an even thinner profile. Other compromises Apple reportedly made in exchange for a thinner and lighter body includes the full-sized USB ports, MagSafe connectors and SD card slots.

The Retina MacBook Air, currently codenamed “MacBook Stealth” internally, will also come with a modest price decrease according to previous reports.

[Image rendition via]

Here’s How Many Watches Apple Will Sell In 2015…

Yesterday, Fortune asked a bunch of well-known analysts how many Watches they think Apple will sell in 2015. Their responses ranged from 8 million to 41 million, averaging at 2.5 million per month.

apple watch analyst estimates

Interestingly, analysts have gotten more bearish on the sales of the Apple Watch with each passing month. When the same number of analysts (including Morgan Stanley Katy Huberty’s ultra-bullish 60 million figure, which isn’t included in the table above because she hasn’t repeated it since) were surveyed last September, the average came out to be 22.6 million – 130,000 more than yesterday’s estimates.

This presents the inevitable questions: once the hype dies, are people less excited about the Apple Watch?

Did reality – that they might end up paying thousands for a product they’ve never seen a successful version of before – dawn upon them?

And how harmful is that realization for the Apple stock?

Apple is expected to show off the Apple Watches’ most exciting features in next week’s Spring Forward event, along with the apps that will be available at launch.

Bonus: Many Apple observers are freaking out about an Oppenheimer analyst’s decision to boost Apple’s price target from $130 to $155 today. The analyst, Andrew Uerkwitz, reiterated an Outperform rating, citing his bullishness on the Apple Watch.

“The Watch is firstly an efficient extension of the smartphone, second a facilitator of intimate personal communications, and lastly a high margin product that provides substantial revenue and margin upside to AAPL,” Uerkwitz wrote.

The Bill O’Reilly Vacuum

Bill O'Reilly

In the last few weeks, reporters have begun to reluctantly accept a depressing axiom: a war against Bill O’Reilly is a war you can’t win.

In fact, you’ll almost certainly lose.

As reports over the last few weeks that ranged from Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly exaggerating (in some cases, downright lying) to physically threatening other reporters piled up, the credibility of the anchor hasn’t diminished in the eyes of his audience: just last week, the O’Reilly Factor’s viewership increased by 11% amidst the onslaught of accusations.

True to O’Reilly’s persona, the host did not once apologize for the inaccuracies and threats (which at one point, suggested that David Corn – the same reporter who exposed Romney’s 47% video and who first published the charges against O’Reilly on the Mother Jones magazine – should be placed in the “kill zone”) and instead of offering any sort of defense, went on a full-on offensive strike, often calling reporters insults that belonged in the 1990’s (“far-left guttersnipe”, “zealots”, “smear merchant”).

It should be noted that the charges against O’Reilly aren’t disputable: they were words that O’Reilly wrote and words that O’Reilly spoke himself, and as far as The Michael Report has verified the information, it did not seem to us as though they were taken out of context (intentionally or not).

In other words, the evidence against O’Reilly were solid and indisputable.

But, of course, that’s not what O’Reilly is interested in! O’Reilly is first a performer for his audience, then a journalist.

A journalist would’ve addressed those concerns.

A performer, on the other hand, would ignore the cold, hard facts for the chance to blast the opposition and fire up the fan base… which was exactly what O’Reilly did. And it worked.

However, there’s another factor at work here that made all of this possible: Fox News – and their audience.

Fox News’ audience is unlike that of other cable networks’ in that they see Fox News as their refuge – refuge from the onslaught of liberal propaganda, spewing Obama’s talking points 24/7.

When Mother Jones published those accusations, Fox News’ audience could see the fear they’ve had concocted in their minds play out in reality: the far-left zealots are attacking Bill O’Reilly, one of the very few people who are still telling the truth! In their minds, O’Reilly isn’t the accused – he’s the martyr who had sacrificed his reputation for the greater good of the country.

Fox News knows that kind of audience is indispensable. Whereas Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theories and ramblings cost Fox News their reputation, Bill O’Reilly’s pointed attacks continue to further the brand’s image as the underdog in a world filled with pro-Obama rhetoric. It is so successful that in fact, it has been reported that O’Reilly’s The Factor brings in $100 million in advertising revenues to Fox News’ war chest.

Perhaps the greatest indication that O’Reilly have won this war – and will never have to apologize for his blunders – is the fact that Fox News’ upper-echelons are fully in his support. Officially, this is the statement issued by Fox News when the New York Times asked them to comment on the allegations: “Fox News Chairman and C.E.O. Roger Ailes and all senior management are in full support of Bill O’Reilly.”

Behind the scenes, however, here’s the clearest indication yet that the war is already over… even before the liberal media thought it had begun: in Gabriel Sherman’s book on the founding of Fox News titled The Loudest Voice in the Room, he chronicled the 2004 episode whereby a Fox News associate producer named Andrea Mackris sued Fox News, accusing  O’Reilly of having lurid phone sex with her (the details were quite… interesting).

Fox News founder Roger Ailes and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch were furious at O’Reilly for bringing public humiliation to the company, and ordered him to keep his mouth shut or risk losing his show. O’Reilly kept his mouth shut, and later settled out of court (consequently, employees at Fox News had to undergo workplace sexual harassment training – thanks Bill!). The event quickly ended two weeks later, and O’Reilly’s ratings went up by 30%.

This time around, not only did no one tell O’Reilly to shut up, the entire Fox News executive team also gave O’Reilly their implicit permission to fire at the mainstream media, pedal to the metal with their full support.

The war is over, and O’Reilly has won.

This is the new reality.

FINALLY REVEALED: This Is Ethically Questionable Strategy Uber Uses To Win Its Wars

In mid-2014, the Australian government, fearing for the safety of its citizens, banned Uber from operating legally in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. To enforce the ban, undercover inspectors who conducted sting operations on the ride-hailing company were given the authority to impose an on the spot fine of up to $1,700 for both the drivers as well as the passengers.

Theoretically, these tough measures should’ve gotten Uber off the street. Yet, if you wanted to, you could still get an Uber at these states within minutes today.

How could this be?

The real answer lies in Uber’s tried-and-true war winning strategy.

It is a strategy that is undeniably ingenious, shrewd, and unethical.

It is a strategy whose real worth, all told, is $41 billion.

Read the entire story…

VICE BOSS: I Can’t Pay My Workers Well, But I Sure Can Drop $300,000 On A Dinner!

Source: Vice

Vice Media boss Shane Smith is one heck of a character. Known for his outsized character, Smith often attracts media attention not to the work Vice has done (their international coverage is superb; almost everything else is subpar), but to himself for his antics. This time around, it’s no different.

According to a Bloomberg report, Smith dropped $300,000 on a dinner for 12 (or 25, or 30, depending on who you ask) at Bellagio casino’s Prime Steakhouse in Las Vegas. The bill is so exorbitant and out of the ordinary (and we’re talking about Vegas – of all places – here) that on Tuesday, executives at MGM Resorts International took the time out from the company’s conference call to highlight Smith’s bill – in response to a question from an analyst regarding consumer spending in the casino. When executives at what is arguably the world’s most well-known casino is shocked at how much you’ve spent on a dinner, you’ve probably screwed up – and in this case, Smith seems to have outdone himself.

The Michael Report discovered that the most expensive dish on the menu for the Jean-Georges Vongerichten owned steakhouse runs up to only a relatively paltry $85 for a 28-oz. bone-in rib eye… meaning that the majority of the bill came from the free flow of alcohol. And by alcohol, we mean alcohol that cost as much as $20,000 per bottle, according to people familiar with the situation. If the number of guests – 12 – provided by MGM International’s spokesperson is accurate, that means that each guest could have had a $20,000 wine bottle to him/herself in the dinner to come anywhere close to the $300,000 overall tab.

But of course, none of this would’ve mattered if Smith was a benevolent boss who pays the employees of his content mill fairly. Except he isn’t. In fact, record shows that he’s the furthest thing from that.

To understand this, let’s take a look at how Vice pays its employees.

For a long time in the New York media circle, Vice was seen as a cool place to work in: it’s fantastically rich (its latest financing round in September valued it at $2.5 billion) and it’s insanely cool – company parties are often held in grand buildings (such as the former Williamsburg Savings Bank) and decked out with top-tier runway models (illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin often make an appearance in these parties too, we’ve heard).

However, there’s a heavy penalty for working at a “cool” place like Vice: you earn next to nothing.

This isn’t an exaggeration: Vice is one of the lowest paying – if not the most – media companies in New York. Employees are often forced to trade a living wage for the sheer coolness of working for Vice. Instead of eyeing a promotion up the ranks or a pay raise, employees are often told to aim for a coveted Vice ring if their performance justifies it.

What is a Vice ring, you may ask? Well, it’s a gold plated ring that spells out VICE, which probably costs less than $25 to produce. But by making the ring difficult to obtain, Vice artificially increases the value of the ring… and thus, you have interns who are willing to slave away for hours late into the night in hopes of getting one of those rings. If you think that’s insane, here comes the real kicker…

Vice Media is foremost an advertising company, with an editorial operation to give it some legitimacy. Therefore, it should surprise no one that Vice pays its editorial employees very poorly – just because it can get away with it. In the Vice empire, editorial employees are seen as second-class citizens, and the pay structure shows just that.

Obtained by Gawker, this chart (which Vice had to submit to qualify for public subsidies (!)) shows the stark difference in salaries for an editorial employee versus an ad sales employee…

VICE SALARY

On average, an employee working for the company’s ad sales (“Sales and Business Development”) department earns almost twice as much as the average editorial employee. Gawker also cites an anecdotal example, whereby an intern employee working for the company two years ago was excited to have been offered a full-time position… for $20,000.

For all the trouble a Vice employee has to go through, the very least the company can offer is editorial freedom right? Yeah, no.

As said above, Vice Media’s primary function is to sell ads, not educate readers about the world. When writers cross the line, executives often ask their editors to kill or edit the story to fit a particular brand’s tastes – a brand which Vice is either angling for or is running a campaign with.

Writers we’ve talked to said that if an article is written about a specific company that is running a campaign on Vice, that particular article will have to go through at least two to three editors to screen for content that may potentially offend the company. Editors often pull or edit stories without consultation with the author the moment someone in the upper-management starts whining. Vice is, in short, a nightmare to work at for any aspiring journalists.

Anyone looking for an editorial job at Vice should ask themselves one question: how would I feel if my boss spent my whole year’s salary on a single bottle of wine?

Tesla Is Facing The Exact Same Crisis Apple Faced When Steve Jobs Was Still Alive

Elon-Musk-factory

Tesla is a terrible stock to buy/hold. The car manufacturer isn’t selling a lot of cars (relative to the rest of the industry), isn’t making any profit (in fact, it is losing money) and isn’t making the impact many thought it would once things were in order. But still, many either continue to buy or hold on to the stock. Why?

To understand the mindset of these people, one must look at another company – one that wishes to either emulate or purchase Tesla for quite some time now: Apple.

After Steve Jobs released the first iPod in 2001, there was a six year lull before Apple released another revolutionary product (this time around, it was the first iPhone in 2007). During those six years, analysts and bloggers all wondered if Apple was done. More specifically, will Apple be able to continue to shock the world after doing it twice already with the iMac G3 and the iPods? If so, why hasn’t Apple released anything revolutionary? Are they out of ideas?

As the years passed, the number of people who were skeptical of Apple’s future began to grow.

But on the other side of the fence, there were the fierce believers.

Many on this side of the fence exclaimed that for as long as Jobs isn’t done, neither is Apple!

They urged the skeptics to look beyond Apple’s product line and into the leaders leading Apple.

At helm was Jobs: the man many knew to not only be charismatic and insanely smart, but also a perfectionist. Even when these Apple evangelists lost faith in the products Apple were churning out, they still believed that for as long as Jobs was leading the company, Apple isn’t screwed yet. Jobs saved the company from bankruptcy once, and he will stop at nothing to make sure the company succeeds.

In short, these Apple supporters did not believe in Apple the company… they believed in Jobs the man.

When Jobs died, uncertainty clouded over Apple: how can Apple continue to innovate without Jobs, when Jobs is Apple and Apple is Jobs?

Although Tim Cook has done a fantastic job so far, the cloud, by many measures, continue to hover over Apple.

Now, let’s go back to Tesla.

Last Thursday, Tesla reported in their Q4 2014 earnings report that they’ve failed to deliver on both projected earnings and car deliveries. The stock fell by 7% shortly after.

In an analyst report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (obtained by B.I.), the bank has an underperform rating and a price target of $70 – way lower than the ~$200 the stock was trading early Thursday – due to the numerous risks surrounding the company.

One of the more interesting risks outlined by BofA is something known as the “key-man” risk. It is when the entire company essentially depends on one person, and should that person resign or pass away, the company’s immediate future is in danger. Just as Jobs was crucial to assuring supporters and investors of Apple’s future, BofA is worried that the stability and future of Tesla will be jeopardized if Elon Musk decides to resign or passes away one day.

“In our view, many bulls view Elon Musk’s leadership and business acumen as the crux of their investment thesis in Tesla shares,” the firm writes.

“In fact, we have been told on more than one occasion that betting against Musk is unwise. While we certainly cannot argue with the successes, both past and present, of Tesla’s charismatic CEO, we do recognize the existence of key-man risk. In other words, investors should perhaps ask themselves how comfortable they would be with their investment if Elon Musk resigned from Tesla… [we have] a hard time believing anyone would argue that the Tesla story would not change dramatically without Musk in the picture.”

If Elon Musk wants Tesla to survive beyond himself, he can easily do so. But that means that he’ll have to give up some control. Word on the street is that Musk is a control-freak, very much in the same way Jobs was when he was still alive.

So, as it stands right now, the “key-man” risk will continue to haunt Tesla. And if you don’t believe it exists… can you name one other person who works for Tesla other than Musk?

EXCLUSIVE: The Haunting Tale Behind Why Samsung’s Profits Fell By More Than 1/4

An Empire Falls: Samsung by Michael Andrew

It only took Samsung three years to produce a phone worthy of competing with the de facto smartphone at the time: the iPhone 3G.

In 2010, Samsung released the Samsung Galaxy S to much fanfare, with specifications worthy of competing with Apple’s iPhone toe to toe.

For a couple years, everything at Samsung’s mobile division was well and rosy. The team continuously beat internal sales targets for almost every device they produced, and had a strong brand that rivaled Apple’s in both the media and the minds of consumers.

However, just as soon as they caught up with the iPhone, Samsung’s entire mobile division started to crumble.

At first, no one noticed the hairline fractures appearing on the pillars of Samsung’s mobile division. The team continued to do what they did best, often using the same tactics that made them successful in the first place, over and over again.

But although no one noticed, the cracks were slowly widening.

It was a slow, gradual process. Those who did notice it thought nothing of it: colossal amounts of money were still flowing into the company. Who had the time to care about those tiny cracks?

But slowly, as the months passed, people began taking note of the ever-widening cracks. And they tried – they really did – to fix it. But it was too late. The pillars – and the division they supported – were on the verge of collapse.

What you’re about to read is the true story of how Samsung’s mobile division took the world by storm, and then, just as rapidly, crashed. It’s a story of arrogance, money, and toxic culture.

Welcome to Samsung Mobile.

Read the entire story…