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.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg rumored that Apple's forthcoming Apple TV revamp will not include what many see as a key flagship feature – a streaming network bundle. Interviewed on Bloomberg TV, Sr. Intelligence Analyst, John Butler, followed up the rumor stating he believed Apple has underestimated how long a process it would be to forge network TV contracts. Dressed in suit and tie, topped off with sharp looking glasses, Butler looks and sounds most credible, but do John Butler's claims really match reality?
On February 9, Dish Network launched their over-the-top internet protocol service, called SlingTV. SlingTV's base package includes 23 networks, costs $20 a month and has accumulated roughly 250,000 subscribers. How has Dish Network been able to put together an impressive bundle of popular networks, but Apple, working on an over-the-top solution for years, been unable to negotiate a workable deal?
Yesterday Apple released two operating system updates. In reality, Apple really released three: OS X 10.10.5, iOS 8.4 and iTunes 12.2.2. If you think about it, iTunes is somewhat of a pseudo operating system inside an operating system (for managing media on Mac, iOS and Windows).
First, Apple released all three of these yesterday at the same time. It tells us that iTunes must’ve been at the core of the fixes because it would and could effect both iOS and OS X. The iTunes release notes state this version contains bug fixes for Apple Music — a critical component of Apple’s iTunes strategy going forward.
“The Apple car windshield will crack easily, but the car will still function.”
— or —
“Apple Car will be compatible with most roads, but will require its own proprietary fuel.”
It was back in February of 2015 that rumors of Apple developing their own car exploded into the news, and the jokes quickly followed. And while the stream of rumors – and jokes – have died down, Apple certainly has not. Apple’s car program appears to be moving ahead at a rapid rate.
Apple recently hired Doug Betts of Fiat Chrysler, a manufacturing executive who led their global quality team. Apple has also hired hundreds of Tesla workers and many executives from within the auto industry. Apple’s continual hiring stream while spending hundreds of millions in vaguely answered for R&D spending, hints to a major car program, but there is another highly visible area where Apple is making room for their own car — Apple’s own retail stores.
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.
When Scott Forstall was given the big boot at Apple, software UI design took a major turn at Apple. Several in the graphic design field have bemoaned the new UI design era of Jony Ive and his flat looking user interface in both OS X and iOS. However, most of the complaints are about OS X. Starting with OS X Mavericks and continuing with Yosemite, Ive & Co. changed the way everything has looked in OS X: from the dock to icons to system fonts, to windowing — almost everything.
Below are five things we have compiled from T-GAAP user feedback that would make OS X El Capitan far more useable and far more appealing.
Lately things have not gone so well for Apple — not that they have been disasters, but for about 8-10 years there was nothing our favorite fruit company could do that wasn’t a gigantic success. iPhone, iOS SDK, iPad, Mac transition to Intel, OS X,... just to name a few. That does not mean Apple did everything right (kill Xserves for example), but overall their successes far outweighed any shortcomings.
However 2015 has been a different year for Apple. With much promise, Apple Watch was going to be that “new product” that everyone was wearing. It was supposed to be the year that whether you went to the mall, to church or to the airport, you would always spot several people wearing Apple Watch. Nearly five months in, that just is not the case. Apple Watch is for sale, but even Apple hid its sales numbers for the device in their last quarterly earnings report (expect the same for this quarter’s as well). That is not something you do for a product that is flying off the shelves.
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.
2012, 2013, 2014,.... 2015? Will Apple hold its fourth consecutive special event in September this year? Answer: Yes! If there is one major difference between Tim Cook and Steve Jobs it is that Cook brings us predictability with Apple special events, whereas Jobs kept us continually guessing. We were never quite sure when something was going to happen — and Jobs certainly enjoyed that aspect of his unpredictability.
For the past three years, Cook has led the charge at a special event in September, followed by one in October. October is a magic month on Apple’s calendar as it is the beginning of the new fiscal year. Therefore charging sales early in the fiscal calendar is important to ensure a good fiscal year and avoid the need to play catch-up later on. This means front loading the year with new items to sell. Typically, September events have been where Apple announces the newest iPhone. In October, some other do-dad makes the stage. Last year it was Apple Watch and Apple Pay.
Since its climb in February of 2015 from around $110/share, Apple’s stock has been hovering between $120-$130/share for four months now. Never mind continual profits or record iPhone sales quarter after quarter. No, no. Don’t be confused that actual performance of Apple will translate into actual growth in the value of the company.