Techtober has officially begun – in late September! Apple kicked off tech season with the unveil of the Apple Watch 8, Watch SE, Watch Ultra, AirPods Pro (2nd Gen), iPhone 14/14+, iPhone 14 Pro/Pro+. All minor iterations and improvements of previous products – except for the Watch Ultra.
1st up, Apple Watch 8(not worth the money)
Low Power Mode to get 36 Hours Battery Life
Better Fall Detection
Better running, swim & sleep tracking
2nd, Apple Watch SE (the watch to buy if you need one)
20% faster than the previous SE
Also, crash detection & fall detection
Finally some innovation, the Watch Ultra(just take my money!)
Built for athletes, extreme sports – Extreme Desert, Snow, Dive, Hiking capable
Improved Compass, Pro running, depth gauge
Customizable Action Button
WR100 – 40m depth – EN13319
MIL-STD 810 – 49mmTitanium casing covering the edges of the cover sapphire crystal display
Precision Dual Frequency GPS
60 Hours Battery Life on low power setting
Track back, put map markers for key locations when hiking
Next up, the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) (Not worth upgrading from 1st Gen)
Precision finding, alert speakers in case
6 Hours listening time, 30 hours with case charge
Better Transparency modes
Better Noise Cancellation
Apple Watch charger compatible
Apple iPhone 14 & 14 Plus(Not worth the upgrade)
Photonic Engine – better photo capture, better night mode
Autofocus Front Camera
Emergency SOS via Sattelite
Action Mode & Cinematic Mode
Last but never the least, iPhone 14 Pro & Pro Max(Again, just take my money!)
Dynamic Island, a pill shaped notch that opens up with quick app info – pretty creative!
48MP camera, Pro camera system
Always On Display!
Plus everything that the iPhone 14 has
All in, a very iterative event apart from the Watch Ultra, good iterations of course – but they have settled into the iPhone users upgrade every 3 to 4 years or more philosophy. Very far behind on the innovations compared to the Samsungs & Huawei’s on hardware and far behind Android on software – but because of the Apple EcoSystem lock-in and doing things the refined ‘Apple Way’, they always seem to stay in the game better and longer than most.
So we just went through a whole week where we had anticipation before the event and then disappointment after, and this brought me to think over the weekend about why Apple took this route – and most of this might be glaringly obvious and some of it might not at all. But here’s my thoughts on why Apple had the product launch it did. Read on.
So .. What happened?
Apple launched iterative updates for all its products in a sense implying their products are quite perfect already and they could just get away with improving on the things that matter such as the display, camera and the battery – some would say this is the right way to go but as always there are also quite a few that disagree and call this a slowdown in the pace of innovation as compared to their Android competitors. Below summary details on the products launched and the updates made on these products:
iPhone 13 / 13 Mini / 13 Pro / 13 Pro Max – With improvements in the processor, camera and the battery life for the 13 & Mini + the additional telephoto camera and the 120 Hz Display for the Pro versions
iPad / iPad Mini – An updated standard iPad for a relatively cheap option with an Apple Pencil, an updated Mini that is just an iPad Air in a smaller form factor for those who prefer it
Apple Watch – A slightly bigger + brighter screen, more durable and faster charging (with a USB-C connector now)
Apple TV+ & Apple Fitness+ – New shows and seasons for the TV and new + better workouts for the Fitness App
Why would Apple do this?
So why does Apple think they can get away with only iteration and a lack of innovation. So many theories, such short attention span’s to contend with.
5G – Let’s start with the biggest incentive of all to have an event in the first place, sell product+service. With carrier partnerships all across who want to promote their 5G networks and are ready to subsidize your old iPhones to give you new ones – there’s no better time than the present to launch a shiny new phone, iPad and Watch even if the updates are only iterative.
Why mess with perfection? – The phones and the ecosystem as they are, are pretty amazing and at the #1 charts across the world in Phone sales. So why take risks by putting in an innovation that might not be well received. Which is why it makes sense to just make the safest of updates to improve products that are already good.
The Supply Chain? – There is a robust supply chain that has parts sourced for the massive demand for Apple products worldwide. So it makes sense to stretch out the parts for more years which results in price optimization and more importantly profit optimization.
Legacy – There is a whole world of legacy, Apple approved accessories that have to pay Apple for the usage rights to be apple certified; all of which goes away then they switch away to more open technologies such as USB-C. There are also other devices in the eco system that still have to switch over such as the iPad and the AirPods. This creates a kind of lock in as well for the accessories ecosystem of Apple’s most popular product, the iPhone. Revenues for which it needs to find ways to compensate for.
Would you recommend buying one?
This is subjective and relatively straight forward – if you own one of these products from 2 to 3 + generations ago, this is an amazing upgrade to get and well worth the money. If however you have all the latest from last year – definitely do not spend and either spend it on something else you might need or save for next year.
There is of course innovation in Apple’s future, purely because the market forces would enforce innovation lest they perish similar to the likes of Nokia and Blackberry. What can and will they do next? Thoughts below:
Competition – Apple is currently a market leader despite the lack of innovation it seems to display. If you hear the experts discussing this you would mostly hear that Apple usually implements innovations after they have been tested and proven in the market, and they they innovate on top. There are innovations and technologies that are still in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd generations that still need to prove themselves, a few to name as below:
Underscreen Fingerprint Scanner
Underscreen Selfie Camera’s
USB-C for the iPhone’s
Stylus for the iPhone
Augmented Reality – One of the big focuses for Apple post the Services push (Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+) has been augmented reality. Current speculation is that this would result in a Mixed Reality Headset that incorporates both Virtual and Augmented Reality; however very little is known on the final product they plan to release as well as when they plan to release it. However, they have started working on this with the Lidar sensors added to the phone and AR apple such as Pokemon Go etc.
Apple Car – the edge of the rumor mill is always the Apple Car, speculation stating that Apple will eventually get into Tesla’s business using its design philosophy and computing chops. However, we are still to see proof on how this shakes out eventually since this isn’t something the company will take lightly and would want to refine and get approvals for before they roll a product out.
Looking forward to the next Apple Event for the MacBooks and who know’s what else which might happen in the October/November timeframe of the year.
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Pictures courtesy Apple from the Apple Event on 15 Sep 21