Above Avalon Is Officially Sustainable

It has been one year since I launched Above Avalon memberships and began writing my daily updates about Apple. I wanted to take this momentous occasion to recap the first year and look toward the future.

I had two goals in launching Above Avalon memberships back on May 13, 2015. 

  1. Put Above Avalon on a path to sustainability.
  2. Begin to form a thriving community based on a different kind of Apple analysis. 

I am happy to report that I accomplished both goals over the course of the past year. Above Avalon is officially sustainable (and has been for a few months). In addition, I'm now getting to know quite a few Above Avalon members through daily interactions over email and the discussions taking place in the Above Avalon team in Slack. 

Officially Sustainable

There are two parts to sustainability for a company like Above Avalon. The first is tangible: the number of Above Avalon readers and podcast listeners becoming members. This number plays a big role in keeping the lights on at night. Not only was I able to meet my one-year membership sign-up goal in a few months, but I was also able to meet my revised goal. A big thank you goes out to everyone who has become an Above Avalon member over the past year. Members play an important role in making Above Avalon possible.  

The second aspect to sustainability is a bit more intangible: a publishing schedule that contains longevity and vigor. After publishing 200 daily updates for members in the past year, each containing two to three stories, I feel I have found a good balance between the amount of time spent writing about Apple and researching various topics and subjects.

The Daily Updates

My goal for starting Above Avalon was to introduce a different kind of Apple analysis in which all research and perspective originates from understanding how Apple thinks about the world. Only then should analysis focus on the broader Apple operating environment, including competitors. Over the course of the past year and a half, I am more confident than ever that this framework is the best way to analyze Apple given its unique culture.  In addition, it has contributed to Above Avalon research and perspective being one of the more accurate and informed sources available. 

I feel very confident that my perspective on key issues impacting Apple's future, including prospects of an Apple Car, Jony Ive's promotion to Chief Design Officer, and Apple's continuing investments in future products and technologies, were a result of dedicating all of my time and resources to understanding how the product guides Apple. At the same time, critical analysis has led me to be more hesitant and skeptical about certain parts of Apple's business, including iPad and iPhone unit sales growth. 

New Archive & Slack Team

One way to foster an Above Avalon community is to establish a place for members to communicate with each other and discuss Apple trends. Four months ago, I created an Above Avalon team in Slack. I am quite pleased with how things have turned out and feel even more confident today that Slack is the future of team communication. With the member archive and various channels placed within Slack, members now have an easy and convenient way to access previous updates and meet other members. 

Positioning the Slack team as an optional feature for Above Avalon members turned out to be the right call as I have been able to maintain the value of every Above Avalon membership regardless of participation in the Slack team. 

Goals for Year Two

While the past year has been great for Above Avalon, there are a few things that I plan on focusing on over the next year. 

1) A new kind of Apple financial analysis. Above Avalon members have experienced four Apple earnings cycles. While I am confident that each has proven to be quite valuable and enriching, one goal for the next year is to develop a new kind of Apple financial analysis that does a better job of judging how Apple is performing in relation to its goals. Wall Street is guided by narratives and near-term expectations while Apple is guided by intangible factors such as product satisfaction and long-term thinking. This division produces friction, and I want to work on removing some of this friction when analyzing Apple's financial trends. This process begins by determining the numbers and data points that matter and creating new ways of measuring and analyzing that data.

2) Continue to learn about Apple. On one hand, Apple is a creature of habit, using pages from the same playbook that have gotten the company to where it is today. However, there are plenty of signs that changes are afoot and that the Apple of tomorrow is going to look quite different than the Apple of today. The more I learn about Apple, the greater appreciation I have that this is a company that is reinventing itself every day. There are plenty of aspects of the company that I want to dedicate much more time and energy to better understanding.

3) Increase value found with Above Avalon memberships. I am convinced that Above Avalon's future goes hand in hand with building a strong membership base. While a growing number of people agree that Above Avalon memberships contain an incredible amount of value ($10 per month or $100 per year) , I want to focus on making memberships even more valuable going forward. One method for accomplishing this goal is continuing to focus on relevant topics and subjects pertaining to Apple's business and future. The daily update format gives me a great avenue for fostering this discussion over an extended period of time and using current news events to augment the discussion and assess changes to strategy. 

As Apple begins to pivot into new industries, there has never been a more exciting time to study the company.

The past year flew by, and I am excited to begin the second year and look forward to welcoming new faces as Above Avalon members. (More information on membership can be found here.

Thank you for a great first year.

Neil Cybart