Back in January of 2007, at MacWorld San Francisco, Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. I was at that show and remember waiting in line to go to the Apple booth to see the two iPhones on display in cylindrical glass cases. It was like gazing upon a rare jewel or ancient discovery at a museum. The round, glass case allowed you to view the iPhone from almost every angle. It was cool. It was unique. It was certainly different, but it was not alone.
With the launch of Apple Watch, a subtle move was made by Apple that may usher in massive change for the company and its next generation iPhone. Apple Watch contains an OLED display, the first time Apple has used such type of display technology on any of their devices. Until Apple Watch, Apple had loyally stuck to LED backlit LCD panels for iPods, iPads and iPhones, but Apple Watch ushered in an OLED display for a variety of reasons. OLED displays are thinner than LCDs, can draw less power, have flexible options, and are more visible in direct sunlight due to their inherent high contrast ratio (the blacks simply do not wash out).
Financially, Apple is “The iPhone Company”. During Apple’s 2Q15, iPhone accounted for over 80% of the company’s profits. iPhone is the vital to the continued success of Apple, and changing any technology within the world’s most popular smartphone is a risk that could bolster its appeal — or completely derail the device. Changing from LED to OLED could represent such a risk, so should iPhone 7 make the jump to OLED?
Apple Watch is likely to be a huge success. By any measure, it is also the most successful smartwatch in history, and it has only just started shipping. The tech industry is ablaze with pushing wearable technologies, whether we seemingly want them or not. Whether you are an Apple lover or Android devotee, wearables are going to be everywhere, but perhaps the question should be, why?
From a strategic standpoint, Google and Apple are racing to protect their smartphone sales, by adding devices that build an ecosystem around their phones. Apple Watch and Android Wear quickly strengthen a nearly inescapable ecosystem built around the smartphone. Both companies wearable devices are heavily dependent on their own supported smartphones. Once a watch is purchased, the odds of people switching to another operating system of smartphone becomes very, very low. For Apple and Google, making their smartphones the mobile digital hub is key for long-term success.
Apple’s stock has been stuck at the $120-130/share range for the past several months. It’s peak was $134.45 back in February. But since that time the stock has been relatively flat when compared to the previous year of continual growth.
If you are old enough to remember when the first iPods hit the streets, what people noticed first was not the scroll wheel or the iPod itself but those white ear buds and cord that are still with us today. When you saw someone sporting white ear buds and cord, that found its way to the iPod, you immediately knew that person was listening to music or a podcast on Apple’s iPod. Rather than ship gray or black ear buds (like other manufacturers), Apple chose white, which stood out like a neon sign screaming “iPod being used here”.
The phablet is all the rage. Half smartphone – half tablet, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus is on fire. According to Carolina Milanesi, of Kantarworldpanel, iPhone 6 Plus gobbled up 44% of the worldwide phablet market during the first quarter of 2015. China is largely responsible for the overall iPhone 6 Plus consumption, but the U.S. and Europe are also playing an important role. Who is buying all these quasi-tablet/smartphone Pluses? Women.
Cultural differences aside, universally women carry purses, and generally speaking, men do not. Additionally, more men are in the workforce, and that makes a difference in device choice. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 69.7% of men are in the workforce, while 57.2% of women are in the labor market. Businessmen do not carry purses, rather, they slip their smartphones into a slacks or jacket pocket. Women, even those in the white collar labor force, often carry business-like purses. Women working retail or working-for-the-family Mom’s carry purses as well. If you have not caught on yet, a large display smartphone works well for purses, not so much for business suites, slacks or jeans.
By all accounts Apple Watch has not been Apple’s best example how to launch a new product. There was a lot of hype after Tim Cook’s Fall Special Event introducing and explaining the watch. More excitement was built during his Spring Event where he talked about Apple Watch in more detail and unveiled ResearchKit, which medical research teams are using to help collect better data. Then there was the launch...
Apple’s new pre-ordering Apple Watch online “stole” all the available Apple Watch inventory in a matter of hours. Many people that did order their Apple Watch the night it was available still have yet to receive their Apple Watch.
Just in case you were wondering, that slothy software company from Redmond, Washington, is holding their Build 2015 developer’s conference now (April 29-May 1) in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. The results so far? A collective yawn with a smattering of panic.
Microsoft's CEO, Sayta Nadella, is hard at work, focusing everyone on Windows 10. Not to be confused with Windows 9 (which nomenclature was mysteriously skipped), Windows 10 is to be the savior of Microsoft, pulling the Pacific Northwest company out of its 10-year stupor, which was run by former CEO Steve Ballmer (now an NBA basketball owner-super-genius). One of the key products announced, was a conversion package. Developers will be able to “easily” port their Android and iOS apps to Windows 10 platforms — excluding apps written with Apple’s popular Swift code that is.
How does the average Joe, or perhaps even the average Hollywood actor, feel about Brad Pitt and Katie Perry getting Apple Watches, when they aren’t even available to walk in and purchase at Apple retail stores? Will Timothy Robbins let lose some anger because his buddy Morgan Freeman was given an Apple Watch, but he wasn’t? Apple feels terrible they cannot meet demand for the average citizen, but somehow they managed to find enough watches to gift them to high-end fashion designers, rappers and actors. So in consolation you should simply enjoy watching Beyoncé wearing her Apple Watch while can’t you have one.
The problem? This is an elitist mentality. These people are a special class of citizen, they are more important than you or me. And while this is a message Apple is not intending to communicate, after talking with colleagues and friends, it certainly is the message being communicated.
Crickets chirping may be all we hear in Apple retail store locations after employees hold their traditional “open the doors” count down for the official launch of Apple Watch. This launch is going to be the biggest non-launch in recent Apple history. Online pre-orders all but ensured Apple’s retail locations would be left with no inventory on opening day, as an estimated estimated 2.5 million watches were sold in a few short hours. Why Apple would spend tens of millions of dollars building up the Apple Watch launch for 04.24.15, encouraging millions to enter their retail doors when they would have no inventory to sell is beyond my pay grade. Apple has encouraged consumers to arrive at the stores, demo Apple Watch, and leave empty handed. The goal, now, is to get those would-be customers to purchase the watch online, and hope they are willing to wait until June to get it. Fortunately there was the Macbook launch. Oh wait, that is also a blunder of thunder. If you want a MacBook you can take one home — well, um, you can order one online today and receive it in 4-6 weeks.
This is the kind of experience I’d expect at Best Buy or Fry’s, not with Apple. Are heads rolling on Infinite Loop? Maybe I have just become spoiled, expecting Apple to deliver on their promises. No one is perfect, and understandably creating two brand new products that are unlike anything else in the market is an enormous challenge. But the way the shortages were managed and then communicated to customers took all the wind out of Apple’s sails (and one could argue short-term sales as well).