Yesterday Apple released its September 9, special event invitation to select media with the message “Hey Siri, give us a hint.” Thousands of people instantly grabbed their iOS devices asking Siri to “give them a hint” to see if anything particular regarding the event came up. At times, Siri does say “Well, I hear there is something big happening on September 9,” but beyond the cute response, Apple's keeping Siri quiet. At times Apple has hidden hints within their invitations as to what may be coming. This invitation may also hold some clues.
Apple’s late summer special events have historically focused on the release of new iPhones. This season’s forthcoming September 9th event appears to be no different, but there is one product that appears ready to grace the stage which rarely makes an appearance anywhere, and it is likely to steal the show. Apple TV. Sorry iPhone, it appears you are about to be trumped.
When the all-new Apple TV arrives, likely introduced by Apple’s Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, it will not be as a feigned hobby. It won't have the same look. It won't have the same remote. It will not have the same interface, and it will host a slew of new features. According to a recent report by Parks Associates, Apple TV sales have slipped into 4th place behind Roku, Google and Amazon streaming solutions. Don't expect this to continue being the case after September 9. When Apple enters a market, they play to win, and not to be one of many participants on the stage. If rumors surrounding the Apple TV are accurate, the diminutive streaming set-top-box should acquire the living room’s top sales spot in a matter of days after its release.
Apple car rumors may be on a slow burn as of late, but that has not stopped Apple from hiring Tesla, Fiat Chrysler, or any number of automotive company employees. And Apple’s supposed off-campus car headquarters is as locked down as ever. All indications are Apple is quietly, secretly, developing their own car at warp speed.
Stocks across the globe have been on a recent downward slide. China twice devaluated their currency last week, hitting companies like Apple hard with worries their products would no long be affordable to the Chinese consumer. This morning the DOW Industrial Average started with a 1,000 point plunge, and AAPL sank to $94.05 a share at the opening bell, leading the massive fear-based sell off. Then Apple CEO, Tim Cook, did something unheard of for the Cupertino-based company.
Cook emailed CNBC's Jim Cramer stating the following: “Jim, As you know we don't give mid-quarter updates and we rarely comment on moves in Apple stock. But I know your question is on the minds of many investors.”
An all-new Apple TV has been highly anticipated since it was a no show at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference this past June. Rumors suggest the revised Apple TV will be thinner and slightly wider, with iOS 9 acting as the software core of the device. A state-of-the-art A9 processor, Siri integration, an app store, Home Kit and possible Force Touch remote control are all said to be apart of Apple's new black box. But new high tech goodies come at a price.
During an Apple Watch special event in March, CEO Tim Cook announced Apple TV would begin selling at a price of $69. For years Apple TV had been selling at $99. The lower price not only saw an increase in Apple TV sales, but also paved the way for an all-new Apple TV to enter the market at a higher price point. The lower price for the current Apple TV also gives Apple the flexibility to continue selling it as an entry level option, competing with Roku and others in the sub-$100 market.
September 9th is coming, and rumors have marked the date for an Apple Special event. The stars of the event are to be the latest iPhones, iOS 9, the release date for OS X El Capitan and perhaps an all-new 12-inch iPad pro. An all new Apple TV is also expected to grace the stage, but whether the new living room device comes with gaming, an app store, or network streaming bundle is still fuzzy math at best. What makes the cut for Apple TV at launch is being closely watched, but perhaps the best feature for the device is almost a given to make the cut.
Global search will be Apple TV's new killer feature. Having the core of iOS 9 at Apple TV's core makes global search much easier to deploy, and makes content exponentially easier to find. Currently, if my daughter wants to find an episode of Word Girl, does she go to PBS Kids. But if the show is no longer there, does she need to search Netflix, or does ABC Family channel or Vimeo perhaps has Word Girl and her trusty sidekick Bob (a monkey btw)? Searching for content within network apps is a painful exercise. People simply do not think in terms of provider, then content. Rather, the content you want to watch is thought of first, and then how to find it becomes the big task. Apple's global search will be a welcome change.
The soon to be announced Apple special event in September will begin with a recap of Apple Watch, Apple Pay (re-launch and resell) and the introduction of the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, and C. For the last several years this is what Apple has done, and is likely to do so for September's special event.
Everything appears to be on schedule for such an announcement and with only 20% of iPhone users owning the latest iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, Apple could use a boost to get more of its installed based on the larger display “6” platform.
Last week I wrote about whether Tim Cook was the right guy in 2015 to lead Apple forward. I then followed with an article about the stock being in a dulldrums. While comments to both stories were not necessarily positive, both postulations may be true. Sometimes people do not like to hear the truth, especially when it goes against their preconceived ideas. Change is difficult for most, and adjusting to reality is often something people prefer to avoid.
The fact is Apple is in a funk this year. While OS X will add some nice do-dads to its plethora of features and iOS 9 looks to be a welcomed update as well, it hasn’t been since the iPad’s launch that Apple’s luster was shining bright. Sure the stock has done amazing things since the beginning of this decade as has Apple’s savings account. Tim Cook has proven to be a very good manager of what is. Incremental change over time with the direction of the company in an upward direction. But while good for the first four years of the 2010 series, year number five is proving a bit more difficult.
It seems like a lifetime ago when Steve Jobs took over Apple for the second time as iCEO. Jobs ran Apple for nearly 15 years before pancreatic cancer took his life. Tim Cook stepped into the CEO position and has run Apple for almost four years. At the time Tim Cook was a good choice. He was a safe choice. He wasn’t going to rock the boat or try to pretend to be Steve Jobs II. He would take what was a growing and great company and drive it forward, building on its success.
That was back in 2011, and times were different. Apple’s needs were different. While Cook has indeed grown Apple’s value and savings account, the question is what kind of leadership does Apple need going forward? Is safe and steady the right formula or does Apple once again need a visionary to lead it into unchartered waters?
Last September, during an Apple special event, Tim Cook finally showed off what engineers at Apple had secretly been working on for years — Apple Watch. It was simply amazing. The watch’s hardware was impressive as was an entirely new OS that took touch and tech to a new level. In the aftermath, many eagerly anticipated saving enough money to be the first on their block to own and wear one. Then the worst product launch in Apple’s recent history occurred.
Unfortunately, all the launch excitement for Apple Watch was sucked out the room when all of Apple's inventory had been purchased online in less than an hour. It would be another six-eight weeks before one could walk out of an Apple retail store with an Apple Watch.