What's Important in the Financial World (9/13/2012)


The iPhone 5 and China

One of the questions that came out of the unveiling of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone 5 is whether it can help the company's flagging fortunes in China, the largest wireless subscriber market in the world. Apple's share of the smartphone market in the People's Republic stands well behind Samsung, Lenovo and several others, based on a research report from IDC that covered the second quarter of this year. The fabulous features of the iPhone 5 are not what will make Apple a success in China, although the new model might spur consumer demand. Apple has had trouble, off and on, with the largest carriers in China, led by China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL). Carriers in most other nations are willing to pay large sums for each iPhone - sometimes several hundreds of dollars per phone - and hope to make up that money and more through multiyear subscription plans. China's mobile carriers have resisted these fees in the past. Apple must decide whether it will accept a margin reduction on the iPhone 5, if it wants a significant position in what may its most important market in the future.

Foreclosures on the Rise

The rate of foreclosures in the U.S. has crept up again, after a number of months of improvement in some states. The way the courts in several states treat the foreclosure process is part of the reason, because courts can slow the procedure in some cases. The RealtyTrac's Foreclosure Market Report:

August 2012, which shows foreclosure filings - default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions - were reported on 193,508 U.S. properties in August, an increase of 1 percent from July but down 15 percent from August 2011. The report also shows one in every 681 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.

The research firm added that 20 states documented year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity. Illinois posted the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the first time since Jan 2005. In the Midwest state, "one in every 298 housing units with a foreclosure filing." In more detail:

Twenty states registered year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity, led by judicial foreclosure states such as New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

States that traditionally have had the worst foreclosure rates were not spared. Florida and California stayed high on the list. So did the cities that have had the most real estate sales trouble, coupled with high unemployment. The number of these cities was particularly high in California:

Foreclosure activity increased from the previous month in the California cities of Modesto (14 percent), Merced (50 percent), Bakersfield (62 percent), Fresno (178 percent) and Chico (87 percent). In Merced, foreclosure activity increased 13 percent from August 2011 after 33 months of year-over-year decreases.

Nintendo Wii U Launch

Nintendo will continue its effort to make a comeback in the video game console business. It will introduce its new Wii U in Japan on December 8. It is a wonder that the Japanese company will not have the product out in the United States well before the end of the holiday season. The BBC reports:

The device features a touchscreen offering players to ability to carry out in-game tasks, such as checking their inventory or setting an explosive, while the main action continues on their television. Gamers can also continue to play a title using the device when they do not have access to their main screen.

Nintendo has claimed it would help "revolutionise" gaming.

The "revolutionising" process already has begun, as video game activity moves away from traditional platforms onto smartphones and tablets.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: AAPL, CHL, featured