“Today we’ll remind you of the uniqueness of this company as we announce innovations from our mobile OS, to applications, to services, to hardware, and more importantly the integration of all these into a powerful, simple, integrated experience.” – Apple CEO, Tim Cook
- Segmentation Logic: I blogged some time back about how Apple is better than almost any company out there in grokking the fundamental importance of segmenting the market based upon user outcomes, core jobs and underlying constraints. In that light, you can look at iPhone segmentation as now covering the spectrum from network type (GSM, CDMA) and carrier (Sprint added to AT&T + Verizon in US) to functionality and price point. Here, I hearken back to Tim Cook’s comments at an Apple earnings call a few quarters back where the company announced that they would NOT leave pricing overhang (as they had in years past) for low-end competitors to outflank them. In that light, consider iPhone pricing that ranges from FREE (for iPhone 3GS) to $99 (for iPhone 4), $199 (for 8GB version of iPhone 4S), $299 (for 16GB version of iPhone 4S) and $399 (for 64GB version of iPhone 4S), respectively. Now, that's a frontal assault on the low-end Android phone, where arguably, their volume is greatest.
- Apple didn’t call it iPhone 5 for a reason: You will hear many quibble that today’s event was disappointing or that Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs, and you can count on there being references to Apple's stock price dropping post announcement. But know this. Apple’s iPhone 4 form factor is HUGELY popular, and the overlay of iOS 5 and iCloud are major enhancements, so calling this device iPhone 4S is a measure of brand strength. Apple doesn't want users to turn the page to the NEXT phone when the current model is so powerful and popular. As to stock movement, that’s a simple case of buy on the rumor, sell on the news. If you track Apple stock immediately surrounding these events, that’s a simple correlate replicated over the years.
- iPhone 4S camera is arguably the biggest deal: It’s almost pedestrian to point to a mobile camera as the biggest selling point of a mobile phone, but Apple’s camera in iPhone 4 was already starting to subsume the primacy of point-and-click cameras, something which Tim Cook pointed out when noting that iPhone 4 is the most popular camera for posting on Flickr. Hence, a materially better camera experience starts to lock down (for Apple) photography as a core job of these devices. Just look at the popularity of Instagram, with 10M users, and 25 photos + 90 likes processed every second, for proof of this point.
- Do we Siri-ously want to talk to our phones? While the consensus was that the demo for Siri, Apple’s new voice-based intelligent assistant system, showcased Apple’s ability to take novel concepts and actually make them work, color me skeptical. This feels a bit like FaceTime. Cool in concept (like a dog walking on its hind legs), but debatable how central to the device's core utilization it will be in actual practice. That stated, I quipped on twitter that the porn and pop psychology app/service implications for Siri are staggering, so maybe there’s hope. (Siri listens to Mark ordering Chinese food, before chiming back in automated frustration with tonal snark, “Kung Pau Chicken, again?”
- Building Bridges between the Virtual and the Real: Apple’s announcement of its new Cards service, whereby you can create, customize and mail beautiful printed cards right from your iPhone or iPod touch, may seem like one of those bullet points that is never to be heard from again. However, I suspect that in the same way iTunes trained users to 'suck at the teat' of micro-transactions (initially, songs), which fed nicely into all media and apps, Cards is the first attempt to train users to see iPhones and iPod touches as wallets and shopping carts for Real Goods (and services) that can be custom-ordered on the fly. That’s Apple. Start small and simple, get one complete logistical use case right, and then scale up and iterate.
A final side comment is that it’s funny how every time Apple has one of these events, all of the text-based services that cover the event always crash. YouTube can serve up 1B videos a day, Netflix can stream full movies, but a text-based event log can't stay up for the duration.
Yes, I know they are technically addressing different scaling issues, but it's funny nonetheless.