“Public information to me are secrets in plain sight,” Apple analyst and Asymco.com blogger Horace Dediu told me last week. “Private information on the other hand has no insights and can also lead to wrong deductions.” I am pretty sure many on Wall Street would disagree. Then again, Dediu couldn’t be further away from Wall Street, despite having being called the most accurate analyst covering Apple by Bloomberg.
I met Dediu in a coffee shop in one downtown Helsinki, where the native son of Romania used to work as an analyst for Nokia for for eight years. Dediu was educated in USA and attended the Harvard Business School. In 2007, when Apple introduced the iPhone, he saw it as an immediate threat to Nokia and the reigning mobile world order. Of course, no one listened. When Apple introduced the iTunes app store, he started a company that would help others build iPhone apps.
In order to get constant attention to his company, he decided to blog on Asymco.com. That was in February 2010. Soon after, John Gruber of Daring Fireball linked to some of his analysis, and before he knew, his apps consultancy business was shoved aside as he started focusing almost fulltime on the blog. These days, his analysis is being read by more than 300,000 visitors a month. He is so unlike other analysts, which is why everyone from fellow bloggers to hedge fund managers and mutual fund gurus eagerly await Dediu’s next blog post.
As we sit and sip our coffees, the conversation turned towards how he approaches the market. I wanted to know: What makes him tick? He paused and thought hard in response to my questions and then concluded that what worked for him was the fact that he was an outsider. “Lot of analysts reply on connections and it is usually that what they are doing is gathering information and not doing any analysis,” he said. “I don’t have any such inside connections. What I have is Internet as my connection as it is more valuable to me than those special connections.”
So what is on his mind these days? Horace said he was thinking about the TV business and how Apple would play a role in the Internet-enabled TV revolution. “Next year will be about a new kind of a television experience,” he told me, explaining that we will start to see more “different” use cases emerge for connected television. “We need a new way of thinking about content and not duplicate the old way of thinking about content,” he says. Agreed!
Just as apps were able to become a big source of revenue on mobile phones, apps will open up monetization opportunities for video-centric content. YouTube based monetization is difficult, he argued, because one needs big audiences to create ad dollars. However, if you get paid directly for apps, even small, niche video content can thrive. These apps, of course would have to be re-imagined for bigger displays and new interaction methods through new kind of controllers – iPad or Siri, for example.
And before we part ways, he points out, all the tiny bits of information are out there in public, on the Internet.