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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is trying to decide whether it makes sense to offer a cheaper iPhone as it tries to boost sales in less-affluent countries and reclaim some of the market share lost to cheaper phones running Google’s Android software, according to a published report.
Wednesday’s report in The Wall Street Journal speculated that Apple could lower the iPhone’s price by equipping the device with an exterior that costs less than the aluminum housing on current models.
A cheaper iPhone could come out as early as this year, or the idea could be tabled for future consideration, as has previously happened. Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, the Journal said Apple began assessing the pros and cons of making a cheaper iPhone in 2009 and has periodically revisited the notion. Apple Inc. declined to comment to The Associated Press.
Apple so far has stuck with an approach that has stamped the iPhone as the gold standard, a device that warrants a higher price than other smartphones. Under this tack favored by Apple’s late CEO, Steve Jobs, the company sells a premium-priced iPhone that has been updated annually with new features since its 2007 debut.
In an attempt to appeal to more budget-conscious consumers, Apple has been selling older models of the iPhone at discounts before phasing them out.
The latest iPhones start at $199 in the U.S., but those prices are subsidized by wireless carriers, which figure they can make up the costs through monthly service fees over the life of a two-year contract.
The unsubsidized prices start at $649. That is proving to be too much for many people looking to stay connected on the go, prompting them to snap up more affordable smartphones, including Android devices made by Samsung Electronics Co. and others. Google Inc. doesn’t charge for the Android mobile operating system, making it easier for device makers to undercut the iPhone. Apple doesn’t allow rivals to use the iPhone’s iOS operating system at all.
Android devices accounted for 75 percent of smartphone shipments during the three months ending in September, up from 58 percent at the same time in 2011, according to the research firm IDC. The iPhone’s share stood at 15 percent in September, up from 14 percent in the previous year.
Google says more than 500 million Android devices have been activated since the software’s release four years ago. By comparison, Apple had sold about 271 million iPhones through last September.
Apple could fall further behind as it focuses more on markets outside the U.S. and Europe. That’s because many households in some of the most promising markets, including China, can’t afford iPhones at their current prices. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who took over the helm shortly before Jobs died in October 2011, is currently visiting China.
“The Western markets are saturated and Apple has to look at emerging growth markets and develop a product that meets the demands of the region and affordability,” said N. Venkat Venkatraman, chairman of the Information Systems Department at Boston University’s school of management.
Under Cook’s leadership, Apple already has deviated from Jobs’ philosophy by selling less-expensive versions of its products. Late last year, Apple introduced a smaller model of its iPad. The iPad Mini sells for $329, or about a third less than what the latest full-size iPad starts at. Even so, Apple is still charging $80 to $130 more for the iPad Mini than similar-sized tablets, including Google’s Nexus 7.
Analysts are divided on whether a cheaper iPhone would be good for Apple. Some believe Apple needs to expand the choices to preserve market share and sustain revenue growth. Others fear a less-expensive iPhone would siphon sales from the premium model and diminish the company’s profit margins. That same concern raised by the recent introduction of the iPad Mini is one of the reasons that Apple’s stock price has fallen 26 percent from a peak reached in late September, just as the latest iPhone went on sale.
Apple’s stock fell $8.21 Wednesday to close at $517.10.
The iPhone and related products generated $80 billion in sales during Apple’s last fiscal year, which ended in September. It accounted for more than half of the Cupertino, Calif., company’s total revenue.
"Californication" (seven seasons)
"Entourage" (eight seasons)
Much like “Californication,” this man-centric show started strong and buzzy -- a perpetual nominee at the Golden Globes and Emmys, and a perceived gender-swapped “Sex and the City.” Then it ground on and on, and what might once have been read as a sophisticated satire of Hollywood materialism became a grinding conveyor belt of self-congratulatory guest-star appearances.
"Will & Grace" (eight seasons)
Hey, did someone say “self-congratulatory guest-star appearances?” Look -- it’s Jennifer Lopez, and Cher, and Janet Jackson, and Madonna! The latter seasons of “Will & Grace” effectively ruined the fun of watching the show in syndication now -- will it be a fun and jaunty early episode, or a later episode in which title characters enact an Ibsen play about having a baby together (really) while Jack and Karen meet one pop star or another? The fact that the show hastened a widespread acceptance of gay people that, then, made the show something of a throwback by the time it ended is one thing; the fact that the show itself seemed uninterested in relying on its actors’ sharp comic timing is quite another.
"The King of Queens" (nine seasons)
This CBS stalwart just kind of kept going, exactly as long as was needed to launch Kevin James’ film career. In the show’s final minutes, a formulaic sitcom became a mile-a-minute soap, with the central characters considering divorce and then having two children.
"Frasier" (11 seasons)
Though it ended strong, "Frasier" had something of the opposite problem as “The King of Queens”: While the CBS comedy chucked a whole bunch of plot at viewers toward the end, NBC’s Emmy magnet stayed stuck in familiar ruts, with Frasier questing endlessly for love and Daphne and Niles in fairly unthrilling domestic bliss. The jokes stayed good, but this maybe could have gone one or two years shorter.
"Weeds" (eight seasons)
As “Homeland” viewers may be learning, Showtime isn’t particularly good at keeping its shows coherent over time. (Maybe this is “Californication”’s issue -- we wouldn’t know!) This show changed settings and, effectively, organizing conceits so many times that by the end, it had few earnest defenders.
"Nip/Tuck" (six seasons)
This FX series, too, changed settings midway through, moving from Miami to Los Angeles four seasons in for no compelling reason. The show’s most gripping subplots had a way of petering out (remember the anticlimactic solution to the mystery of the Carver?), and its bizarre tendencies overtook any sense of fun.
"Glee" (five seasons and counting)
The series has, like its sibling show “Nip/Tuck” (Ryan Murphy created them both), switched locations, moving in large part to New York once its core cast graduated high school. But what’s the point of a high school series when the stars graduate? Despite some lovely moments, the show’s heat seems gone, and attempts to get back into the conversation (the school shooting episode, for instance) have been more desperate and tone-deaf than effective.
"Grey's Anatomy" (10 seasons and counting)
Here’s the thing: By all accounts, “Grey’s Anatomy” is not a creative failure. And it’s still widely watched. But when you begin your life as a world-beating hit, anything else seems somewhat marginal. “Grey’s Anatomy” has shed more regular viewers than many shows will ever hope to get in the first place (same’s true of “Survivor” and latter-day “ER,” to name just a few). Those who stopped watching once the Golden Globe nominations petered out may wonder why the show is still on; loyal viewers know better.
"The Simpsons" (25 seasons and counting)
Like the “Grey’s” doctors, the Springfield clan and their neighbors still draw a crowd. But “The Simpsons” is so omnipresent in syndication and in pop culture that the first-run series seems besides the point (not least because, though there are good episodes here and there, the show’s best days are universally agreed to be behind it -- like way behind it, in the 1990s).
"The Office" (nine seasons)
There was a natural break for this show, where it ought to have ended -- with the departure of lead actor Steve Carell in Season 7. The latter years were a creative fugue state, and as NBC’s Thursday night lineup continued to flatline in the ratings, one-time fans could be forgiven at their surprise that the adventures of Jim and Pam kept on unfolding.
"The X-Files" (nine seasons)
Once one of the show’s leads departs and has to be replaced -- as Steve Carell did on “The Office,” or David Duchovny did here -- the show faces a reckoning; if the lead is so central to the show’s plot as to make people wonder how the show could possibly go on, maybe the show shouldn’t. And even “X-Files” superfans might have been happier with fewer seasons of drawing out the conspiracy string toward a famously unsatisfying ending.
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