What's Important in the Financial World (1/15/2013)


New, Cheap iPhone Rumors

Rumors about a cheap version of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone have gotten out of hand, at least based on how poor the sources are. Tencent Tech reports that the new product will be launched in the second half of the year. Another obscure website, Patently Apple, voiced concern about the value of the reporting: "While it sounds like a winner, we have no track record on Tencent Tech's reporting accuracy." The same could be said about Patently Apple. A search for the Chinese Tencent Tech does not bring back any match when the name is put into Google. The entire, thin, Patently Apple report:

According to BrightWire, a business-to-business resource for portfolio managers, a major Chinese website called Tencent Tech is reporting this morning that preliminary details about an entry-level iPhone model from Apple have leaked. Reportedly, this future model will adopt a chassis made of plastic instead of the currently-used glass and aluminum materials. The report adds that the model may also adopt a chassis made of plastic and metal. Metal parts inside this new model supposedly will be able to be seen from outside by virtue of a special design. The model, which is still undergoing validation, will most likely be unveiled in 2H 2013. While it sounds like a winner, we have no track record on Tencent Tech's reporting accuracy. Until other sources emerge, it's just a rumor

China's Internet Population

The China Internet Network Information Center reports that the number of people in the People's Republic who are online has reached 564 million, which means it will soon be double the entire population of the United States. Most of those who use the Web do so from mobile devices. The increase - 10% - will continue to cause the Chinese government trouble, as more and more citizens have access to information that is increasingly beyond the ability of the People's Republic to control. CNET writes:

First reported by Techweb, the report also states that while Internet cafes have begun to slide in popularity, desktop computer use also fell by nearly three percentage points in 2012, and laptop use dropped to 45.9 percent of users. Mobile technology use has leapt from 69.3 percent to 74.5 percent.

Microblogging increased six percentage points, growing to a population of 309 million Chinese Internet users. Online shopper rates ramped up to 242 million people. Using mobile technology to buy items online has increased by 6.6 percentage points compared to 2011.

Underwater Mortgages Dry Up

The number of people with underwater mortgages has begun to contract quickly, in what is likely to be a sign that real estate values have risen, or that people have paid down their home loans - or both. According to Bloomberg:

12 million borrowers in the U.S. who at the peak of the real-estate downturn owed more on their mortgages than their houses were worth, blocking them from moving or saving money by taking advantage of the lowest borrowing costs on record to refinance. As prices recovered, the number of underwater borrowers fell by almost 4 million last year to 7 million, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co., and could drop to 4 million within 2 years.

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