"We continue to innovate. We continue to push forward. All of our energy is on making the best products in the world, that empower people, that enrich their lives. This is what Apple is all about. This is what EVERYONE in Apple is focused on." - Tim Cook
Weird and Wonderful. Brilliant precision coexisting with fuzzy purpose, an occasional manufactured quality, a sense that the product this time may actually be ahead of the message.
Think of the medley of ideas put forth today, and their presentation.
Apple changed the narrative today. The Apple of Jobs was the Crazy Ones that had succeeded against the odds and cultural mores.
The Apple of Tim Cook is about the values, responsibilities and sense of privilege that go with being an institution, as Apple has assuredly become.
It was all on display today.
Consider, in no particular order:
- How many amazing, beautiful videos did Apple present today that were crafted with cadence, visual artistry and narrative.
- Jony Ive's voice was a star of the event, delivering annunciation and clarity of purpose. If they ever remake 2001: A Space Odyssey, I am totally voting for Ive as the voice of HAL. Yet, Jony Ive, the person, felt strangely absent from the event.
- Apple hearts China, as was evident from its stores, markets and share of video footage. And well it should. Is there a non-native brand that is even remotely as China-infused as Apple?
- The Game of Thrones trailer was the "money shot" of the HBO Now exclusive announcement, and it was great. At $14.99/month, it's a cord cutters delight. On the other hand, this really helps ESPN, as the cable and satellite guys need exclusivity to keep their business model from losing its share of margin.
- Apple Pay and Apple Watch feel like a match made in heaven. The idea of frictionless commerce, as evidenced by the Coke Vending Machine example (100K units by the end of the year), is just..WOW! Apple Pay's network footprint is over 700K locations across the US.
- The idea of Apple Watch evolving into a Key Fob is a killer app. The hotel key is certainly cool, and you can see how being on vacation would be really cool if you could go around with just your phone and watch. Similarly, you can see why your Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Tesla and Scion would be logical, how Car Play might augment it. You can see your front door or garage opening, and the tie in with Home Kit. There is, however, a question of how the Fob would work in phone less mode (ideally, quite well), and how it's secured.
- Employee Fleet Management feels like a killer app. Take the above Fob, make it your office key, time card. Tie in the health element, which can funnel better insurance rates. There is a subsidy to be had in that, no? One can imagine IBM being adept at targeting verticals within this domain.
- Apple's strategy is best thought of as a real estate play. There is a continuum from Desktop to Lap, Pocket, Bag and Wrist. There is Retail, iTunes and Apple Pay. iOS devices are now priced between $69 and $17,000, as Horace Dediu noted. Who says iOS can't support a wide variety of business models?
- The "Here" Now Device. Apple Watch is the device where the app and the user's contacts can know that you are wearing the device in a given place right now. The Uber app was a great example of how this can work.
- ResearchKit. This was another one of those weird bolt ons, that is beautiful at the same time. ResearchKit is software framework that turns Apple Watch into a powerful diagnostic tool. Apple announced five apps - Parkinson’s Disease, Diabetes, Cardio, Asthma and Breast Cancer. They made it open source, touted how they empower the individual, give them privacy control and the ability to choose what data is shared.
- The Field of Play of the Apple Watch includes numerous Wrist-able actions, like glances, twists and hard presses. The combination of Haptic and Taptic is a powerful idea that can grow over time. The concept of being able to answer the phone, getting health cues, "stand up and walk," and do Siri -- arguably more naturally made for the Watch than the phone -- and the idea that messages can easily be shared, or generate haptic, visual or aural manifestations is really cool.
Yet, here's the deal. iPhone was a "you know you've been wanting something like this, but didn't know it was possible" type of device. Everybody wanted one, it laid right on top of the iPod and iTunes, and there was nothing so caveat free in mobile before it. Once the iOS Ecosystem and App Store took root, it was a forest fire.
By contrast, Apple Watch is a schizophrenic beast. It is a harmonious extension and unique derivative of iOS and the iPhone. It is a luxury watch. But the fact that it's an Amalgam of both makes it some kind of Other.
Will watch enthusiasts flock to it? Will non watch wearers? Which segment of the market will embrace it, or not? Will it take off like iPhone did, and keep going higher, or will it reach a certain baseline and plateau, as iPad has.
UPDATE: Richi Jennings wrote a piece in Computerworld that referenced this post. It's title is a somewhat dismissive take about the Apple Watch called 'Apple Watch -- people HATE it (except $17,000-spendy 'douchebags'). Here's why..."
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