A lot of people think Apple’s briefing yesterday was too short. It was; it’s one of the shortest at around an hour. Understandably a lot of people shared a sentiment in wanting more from Apple. Subjectively, I was disappointed. But that’s because I watch Apple events as a fan — I want to be entertained, I want Apple to pull a rabbit out of their hat every time. I watch Apple events irrationally.
Objectively, I too think Apple shouldnt’ve done anything differently. But allow me, for a bit, to explain the public disappointment towards the event a little further: I think, because the leaks spilled almost everything to be announced, that people thought ‘surely there’s more than just that…maybe new Macs?’. When Apple announced, essentially, what was leaked and nothing more, the reaction was ‘That’s it?’.
In summary, it wasn’t that Apple didn’t announce great products (or enough products) that caused the ‘That’s it?’ sentiment to set in. The fault was that Apple’s plans leaked.
The Environment, ResearchKit and Liam
A lot of people give Apple flak for the lack of women and people of colour present at Apple’s keynotes. Lisa Jackson spoke about Apple’s initiatives towards the environment but they aren’t given equal credit? (Divya Nag from Apple featured in Apple’s ResearchKit video too.)
Apple’s investments into ResearchKit are respectable. I also see their continued importance to people’s health as a possible pointer to more (and better) Apple Watch sensors in the next Watch iteration.
Lastly, Liam is great! It’s Apple making the best of a win-win situation: They generate less waste and shave off costs by recycling spares. Brace yourself, though, for the ‘iPhones suck so bad, Apple made a robot to take them apart’ jokes across the Internet.
The 38mm Apple Watch Sport (ie. the entry model only) had its price slashed by $50 and new watch bands were announced (I’m a sucker for the space black Millanese Loop). As this tweet pointed out, Apple was smart in slashing the price of the Watch Sport and keeping the bands priced as-is.
The price-drop makes the Watch tempting but I’d rather wait for the Watch 2; I also prefer the 42mm Watch. Also, I’m not too sure whether this price drop implies Apple is more or less likely to introduce the Watch 2 this year.
Let me start by saying that the SE isn’t being given the credit it deserves. I think it’s a remarkable product and people would’ve been way more excited about it if it weren’t the leaks. Think about: It’s almost exactly the iPhone 6S in a body that’s smaller, arguably better designed than the 6S (the 5S–and now the SE–are my favourite phones, design wise), without the camera hump, at just $399. I see that as a killer deal.
I speculated the SE to retail for $99 on a two year contract. I was wrong. I argued that this complicates the lineup and I think that virtue holds. As an example, if someone sells their iPhone 6 and buys an SE, are they upgrading or downgrading? At this point, the only reason anyone would choose and iPhone 6 over an SE is if they really like a bigger screen and a better front camera enough to overlook the fact that the SE has the 6 beat in almost every other spec.
At first, when I saw the SE priced at $399, I truly was taken aback — ‘How is Apple maintaining their profit margins at such a low price?’. Apple says the SE owes it’s existence to two reasons: 1) It’s a budget phone and 2) some people just prefer the smaller screen-size. Let’s focus on the first. Even though I feel the lineup is complicated with said pricing, I realise how well Apple is playing its cards. They might have, indeed, forgone their margins with the SE but not as much. Here’s why: The SE carries the exact design of the 5S before it. Not only does it save Apple investments towards the SE’s design, it also means Apple will incur minuscule (comparatively) costs to upgrade their production line. And I have a feeling the SE won’t be as heavily advertised as the 6S — more savings.
So why cut down on profit margins? Because this implies Apple gets more customers switching from Android (Apple mentioned in the keynote that a sizeable margin of 5S buyers were getting their first taste of iOS). Further, more customers implies more opportunities for Apple to sell their services (Apple Music, iTunes Store, Apps etc.).
I think the SE is going to be an excellent phone and absolutely crucial to Apple. China is a huge focus for Apple with the SE and I’m sure its price at $580 in India is a tough pill for them to swallow; they must be scrambling to get it down to around $5001.
I’m spoiled by 3D Touch on my 6S, it’s second nature to me. But if I were in the market for an iPhone today, and I had no experience using 3D Touch, I’d call myself crazy to look anywhere beyond the SE.
iPad Pro 9.7-inch
That name’s a mouthful and it means you no longer get to call the iPad Pro 13-inch, the ‘iPad Pro’. I conjectured Apple wouldn’t pack the A9X from the 13-inch iPad Pro as-is in this iPad and I was–sort of–right. The Pro 9.7-inch does have an A9X albeit at a slightly lower clock speed, accompanied by half the RAM. You can clearly see that Apple is still going all-in on the iPad by marketing it as the ultimate PC replacement and the ultimate upgrade for any iPad Air owner.
I was concerned about the Pro wobbling due to the camera hump but it’s not a problem. It looks ugly to me but I’m all for better cameras on iPads — the hump is a necessary evil. Lastly, I’m curious to know how well the shrunken Smart-Keyboard fares when the reviews are out.
- Is it just me or did someone else also notice the change in aesthetic when ‘1’, ‘2,’ etc. were displayed on the screen? It seemed different this time around.
- It was odd that Greg Joswiak introduced the SE, not Phill Schiller.
- I loved the initial reel that celebrated 40 years of Apple. Annotations by Stephen Hackett here.
- It’s excellent that Apple is paying attention towards the environment and reducing its footprint. This article on The Verge discusses Apple’s efforts in contrast with other companies.
- If you’d like to watch the entire keynote, Apple’s put it up on their website. It should be up on YouTube soon.
- I initially estimated this number as $450 but I’ve thought better of it. My follow up post on the SE – Neil Cybart’s thoughts on Apple’s iPhone SE strategy – elaborates. ↩︎