As usual, the hype surrounding Apple’s recent announcement was deafening. There were weeks and weeks of speculation as to what might be debuted, but unlike previous Apple events, the world wasn’t quite sure what Apple would announce. This was perhaps the most uncertain and mystery-filled announcement since the 2010 iPad launch.
Why? The public anticipated a potential new product category for Apple, something that hasn't happened since the iPad in 2010. Ultimately Apple didn't disappoint.
iPhone 6 & iPhone 6+
This was perhaps the most expected part of the entire announcement, as Apple finally produced a larger size phone screen. Samsung has been cutting into Apple’s market share largely by providing bigger screens on such devices as the Galaxy. This was Apple's answer. The iPhone 6 comes with additional upgrades to the phone's battery life, processor speed, camera capabilities, device storage, and a thinner design, but none of that moves the needle in the market. Apple's users had been demanding a larger screen, and the 4.7 and 5.5 inch options of the new iPhone 6 are the answer. Apple surely hopes this will quiet the naysayers and allow it to gain back some of the market share it has lost to Samsung in the global smartphone market.
In my opinion, this was the most exciting and interesting news. Apple Pay is essentially Apple's full commitment to the mobile payment industry. Apple has actually been giving us tidbits throughout the years of its involvement in this space with releases like Passbook, simply storing your coupons, vouchers, and passes in one central location. But never has Apple gone after the entire ecosystem of mobile payments.
This is interesting not because of the technology, which has now been around for quite some time. There are several companies who already focus on nothing else but mobile payments such as LevelUp, Leaf, Paydiant, RoamData and Coin to name a few. What differentiates this move is Apple’s leveraging of its massive ecosystem and brand, and its partnerships with credit card companies like Visa, American Express and Mastercard; large banks like Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Capital One; and major retailers such as Disney, Staples, Whole Foods, Walgreens, Subway, Macys, McDonalds, Sephora, and Bloomingdales. None of the aforementioned companies that would compete with Apple Pay come even close to having those kinds of partnerships in size or scale.
While the Apple technology and service are nothing new or innovative in the market, the fact that it is the Apple juggernaut that is doing, it is a game changer. It’s sure to scare those other companies who have been in the space for years, and even make you wonder about their survival now.
Apple will now serve as the middleman in the entire mobile payments ecosystem, from the retailers to the credit card companies to the banks. Even during the announcement itself, the market understood that Apple was changing the game; at the exact moment that Apple Pay was unveiled, the Apple stock skyrocketed and hit an all-time high. That’s why Apple Pay, in my opinion, was the greatest news.
Apple has not come out with a new product category since the iPad in 2010. But after four years of anticipation and a stock that was hammered due to a lack of innovation, Tim Cook finally launched a new product category for Apple’s post Steve Jobs era. Although it’s not a new product category in the market, the Apple Watch is Apple's foray into wearables and provides buyers the ability to do everything that you would expect.
So how is the Apple Watch any different from the other smart watches on the market, like the Samsung Gear? In terms of its capabilities, I would tell you that it isn't different at all. What is different is the Apple design, which makes it unique and has been the key ingredient in Apple's formula to being the largest market cap company in the U.S. Jony Ive and the second to none Apple design team have put their stamp on the Apple Watch and made it idiot proof.
All that being said, I personally don't believe this is a game changer that will make Apple billions of dollars, and/or change the perception of Apple having lost innovative moxie. So far the wearables market has yet to prove itself as anything even remotely comparable to the smartphone or tablet market. Due to the small size of the wearable market and the idea that its just potentially one more device that doesn't do anything unique compared to your phone, it remains to be seen if this will be a home run for Apple.
However, this is Apple, and the emotional and viral connections people have with Apple make them do things and buy Apple products unlike consumers for any other company. Only time will tell how far those connections will take the Apple Watch and how much it will really do to silence the rumblings of stagnation.
Apple’s recent announcements make one thing absolutely certain: The Internet of Things concept is now, without question, a reality. It is now very much a tangible and real thing that you can see, feel, and touch. The wearables market is now the next "platform" that is no longer next. Mobile is now very much like PCs in that it is simply a part of the fabric of our daily lives, and the Internet of Things now must be accounted for when building our ecosystem of gadgets.
This multi-device world underscores the importance of having a strategy that allows you to take advantage of the capabilities of such innovation to empower your consumers or employees. No one wants to be left behind. More importantly, no one can afford to be left behind.
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