A Few Surprises at Apple’s September EventPosted on 9 Sep 2016
It seems like only yesterday we hailed Apple for finally building a phone with a larger screen. A whole two years has passed since we marveled at the iPhone 6 and with a subdued mood the team at shinobiHQ prepared to watch Wednesday’s special event. Of course, this event was expected to cover more than just phones, but for most the anticipated iPhone 7 was the main focus.
After an entertaining snippet of Carpool Karaoke, a rather croaky Tim Cook arrived on stage to the usual applause from an excited audience.
Over the last few months I’ve kept abreast of the Apple ‘rumor mill’ and as usual I’ve seen all kinds of things; ranging from the believable to the outlandish. Based on these rumors I was not expecting any dramatic product changes, but instead incremental improvements to perhaps the iPhone and the Watch. These expectations proved to be not fully accurate.
Appetizer before the main event
After a brief update on Apple Music Tim surprised the classic gamers with the news of Super Mario Run for iOS, much to the delight of the shinobisquad! Next up we were reminded of Apple’s commitment to education with its connectED and Everyone Can Code initiatives. Apple clearly sees opportunity here; of course to do good, but this commitment cannot hurt it’s reputation. Looking deeper they clearly have their sights on the education sector as a potential market, along with perhaps, locking the next generation into their ecosystem.
I felt a little underwhelmed by the new collaborative features showcased in iWork. This to me feels like catch up to Google Docs and if Apple want more adoption in the business world I feel they must try harder.
Improved water resistance along with GPS came as welcome additions to the Apple Watch. An elegant video showed us how the Watch can help us all lead healthier lives, and I was especially impressed with the Nike+ edition. I was surprised to learn that this model was priced the same as it’s regular cousin, perhaps hinting that Apple are becoming more price conscious? I feel this upgrade will make the Watch a more useful tool and may perhaps drive a renewed consumer interest in wearables, especially in the fitness sector. For the price conscious consumer, the Watch series 1, with Watch OS 3 and an upgraded processor is an attractive prospect.
Finally the iPhone 7
The iPhone 7, what many were waiting for was introduced with a rather glossy video, largely focusing on cosmetics. With 2 new colors and subtle antenna bands, the 7 has had a welcomed face-lift. Beyond looks, photography was front and center with the 7 Plus offering optical zoom with the help of a dual lens. Competitors have enjoyed limited return from devices boasting strong cameras but what stood out here was again, ease of use. The striking images and simple demo suggested we only need an iPhone 7 and a suitable cityscape to become the next David Bailey. As Apple enjoy telling us, the iPhone is the tool of choice for many of today’s amateur photographers and I feel the improved cameras may just tempt some to upgrade.
The biggest surprise for me was the IP67 rating, for dust and water resistance of the iPhone 7. Whilst a latecomer in offering this feature, I feel Apple have simply waited until materials and manufacturing techniques reached a level where it could be implemented well. As we know, early attempts at this by competitors have not fared well – with the iPhone 7 there is not a rubber cap in sight.
Of no surprise was of course, the abandonment of the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Apple seem un-phased by the potential consumer backlash as they know any resulting storm will be short lived – a lesson learnt from the move to the lightning connector. For those mourning the loss of the 3.5 mm jack, Apple tried to woo them with the AirPods. I’m sure even those who believe them be a gimmick won’t deny they are an engineering marvel. I personally feel the disruption from the demise of the 3.5 mm jack will be brief and will lead to better things. A 30 pin Apple connector seems almost laughable these days.
If I knew the answer to this question I’d be a very rich man! I do however feel this question should actually be, ‘what’s next for the industry’. A few vendors have had outlandish ideas, with limited success. Only recently Google dropped their Project Ara modular phone concept. Maybe VR will gain traction, but with the bulky headsets needed, I can’t see it being soon.
I personally believe for Apple at least, they will continue to refine the product, making it more useful for the everyday consumer. I feel after an incremental ’S’ refinement of the iPhone 7, the following iPhone 8 will see some dramatic chassis changes, such as perhaps a complete virtualization of the home button. In the meantime, I believe Apple will continue to incrementally improve what is now a solid, user-friendly device.
After any Apple announcement there are of course critics and before watching the event, I was ready to be one myself. I do feel Apple have delivered beyond expectations this time. New hardware and software is likely to have the odd wrinkle, but providing we see no major flaws, such as failed water resistance I feel that the new iPhone and Watch will be both great sellers. I do feel however that only by pushing for market share in new areas both geographically and by sector, can Apple hope to obtain sales figures that once seemed to be a given.
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