Even though Apple did not announce the new iPhones yesterday, the event was a jam-packed time. Apple announced four new hardware products, a major new service and a new bundle. By any objective standard, this is a big day. As I noted below, the most important products may not be hardware, but the ability to make Fitness Plus and Apple Watch a Kid Tracker.
Apart from those announcements, the main thing that struck me is that Apple is making a subtle but significant change in its product strategy this year. You may have heard of the “good, better, best” pricing strategy – it’s implemented on a bunch of Apple’s. I think what Apple is doing this year is making “better” choices … better – and a little more expensive. This is the “better the better” model.
Old among us is Steve Jobs’ famous Mac product grid clearly marked in our concept of how Apple approaches products. On one axis was “Consumer vs. Pro” and in the other “Desktop vs. Portable”.
But it doesn’t really apply to either axis and it certainly doesn’t work for the many types of products that Apple now makes. For most product categories there are more tiers than simply “consumer” and “supporter”. Also, in the Apple world, the word “pro” doesn’t really mean “for professionals”, so “the best thing” these days.
Take Apple Watch announcements. Apple announced both the 6 line of the flagship series and the low-priced SE line. At first, I considered the Apple Watch SE to be parallel to the iPhone SE. So it seemed to me that this trend required Apple to make more cheap products that are technically new because consumers are finding it difficult to buy a one-year model. But after some consideration, I think it is not quite right.
The better, better, best beat for the Apple Watch is known by different names than just the iPhone. The SE naming scheme threw me off. Here’s how I think it goes:
- Good: Apple Watch Series 3 / iPhone SE
- Better: Apple Watch SE / iPhone 11
- Best: Apple Watch Series 6 / iPhone 11 Pro
The “good” option at the bottom of the lineup actually serves two purposes. This is a killer deal and makes Apple products more accessible. But it also makes room for better options to be more advanced and pricier. Last year, Apple sold a Cajilin Series 3 Watches, possibly at a lower price – this year is very clear in SE.
The same basic logic applies to the new iPad and iPad Air. The new iPad Air carries a lot of things that make the Pro compelling – so long as the words “ProMotion” and “LIDAR” mean nothing to you, the Air is a better option. This is $ 100 more than the iPad Air’s previous year.
I think the Apple iPad isn’t too worried about the iPad. The iPad Pro – it’s still selling you an iPad, and it’s definitely making a good margin because that’s what Apple does. In fact, I suspect that “margin” is often the answer to why the better option is missing a feature that is the best option. The Apple Watch SE is a Series 6 that also has expensive components: no blood oxygen monitor, Always-On display, or the latest chip.
Put another way, all I am talking about here is upsides. The quality of the “good” option you get in the (now metaphorical) door and Upsell is sitting there for the better option. Apple’s move is to give that vengeance a shape Best Talk rather than a better version of good. The Apple Watch SE is based on the Series 6. The iPhone 11 is closer to the 11 Pro than the iPhone SE. And the iPad Air is now more like an iPad Pro than an original iPad.
Like any model, this idea can be broken by too much rhetoric. I don’t know how this applies to the MacBook lineup, for example, but this lineup is currently in such a flow with adjacent branch chips that I think it gets a pass. To me, this model is exactly what Apple is trying for, but depends on where any product line is at the moment that can be difficult to obtain.
Every time Apple releases a new product in a row, there is always some version of the question “when it is similar to that other thing, why does it need to exist?” I was asking myself yesterday with the iPad Air and Apple Watch SE. And now I think the answer is to make sure the “better” one is better – and it doesn’t hurt Apple if it means it’s just a little expensive.
Rounding up apple news
4 Apple’s ‘Time Flying’ event: 9 biggest announcements. This is a good summary of everything in one place. You can also find every story published in this story section.
4 Apple ‘Time Flies’ 2020 Live Blog. If you want to see my and Nilay Patel’s thoughts in real time.
4 Apple posts ASL translation of its ‘time flies’ event. Every company should do this.
4 Apple announced Apple Watch Series 6 with the ability to measure blood oxygen levels. Blood oxygen measurement is a big new feature, but it also has a U1 chip that may someday unlock some future capabilities, such as unlocking your car or locating people who are unannounced airtags yet.
4 Apple announces Apple Watch SE, an affordable successor to the Series 3. The main things you will lose from the Series 6 are the always on-display, blood oxygen monitor, ECG and other bits such as the U1 chip. Importantly, it has been reported to decline.
4 Family setup will let you manage multiple Apple watches from a single iPhone. I think this may be the most important thing low-key Apple announced yesterday. You have to pay a carrier a monthly fee to do the job, but I have to imagine that anyone watching those kids is going to have to think twice instead of getting an Apple Watch – especially If there is child peer pressure about it ends!
Some notes I learned in briefings with Apple: Children are informed about certain types of parental monitoring (such as Geofence) and may approve or reject the sharing of certain health statistics. Also for children: The trick ring tracks overall activity time, not estimated calories. Basically this is because it makes more sense to just know how active a child is, but I am also happy because it is not good for kids to think about calorie intake.
my Very informal poll of my twitter followers There are many answers from parents who are paying attention and thinking on this new feature. It also reveals a surprising number of parents who want to implant chips directly into their children’s skulls.
4 Apple is removing USB power adapter from incoming Apple watch box. As I wrote when it was rumored that Apple would do this for the next iPhone: OK. For the environment, I mean. Oddly, the very expensive fancy versions of the Apple Watch still come with a charger. I guess rich people wouldn’t be able to handle the logistics of finding their own charger in a drawer or something?
4 Here’s how to choose between the Apple Watch Series 6, SE and older models.
4 Apple’s new watch strap comes in 12 sizes, and you have to measure your wrist to take the right measurement. I saw a brief demo at a video conference of these straps and they stretch far enough to fit on your hand before shrinking back to their original shape on your wrist. But this whole system for measuring your own wrist through a printout is really weird. Not that I think there is a better solution, but an uncomfortable clock is the worst and I worry that people will get the wrong shape and then just have to live with it.
However there is an additional complexity. The largest three loop sizes are not compatible with the 40mm watch, while the three smallest sizes will not work with the 44mm watch. This means, for example, if you wanted a smaller watch, but a larger wrist, you may not be able to get one of the new loop bands that fits you.
Services: Apple One and Fitness Plus
4 Apple Announces Fitness Plus Virtual Workout. They are not living like the peloton, but new material is going to be weekly in a variety of different workout styles. However, Apple Watch is required, which is perhaps a bit disappointing.
4 Apple confirms Apple One subscription bundle, which brings together Music, TV Plus, Arcade and. So there are three levels, which seems like too many levels. But well, Apple has to charge more for a family plan than an individual plan because music labels charge more for it, I’m told. And Fitness Plus and Apple News Plus are not available in all regions (Fitness Plus is in only six countries to start). Put those people together and it supports Apple in three levels.
But I still feel like there’s a little confusion here, honestly. My own personal calculation is that the 200GB iCloud storage plan is no longer enough. So I charge ten rupees a month for 2TB. Add in another Apple service such as TV + or music and I’m crawling for $ 20 or $ 25 a month. So you start trying to do some math on what you want and don’t and eventually you put it on the ground, I’ll get it with everything for the whole family – and if you’re a whole family A good deal!
Still I think that for me, just a little bit. And my regular reminder is that whenever you see a monthly price, you should do mental math to see what it costs per year. This is a scale that makes it easier than other purchases or – you know – saving your damn money. So the Apple One Premier tier is $ 29.95 / month or about $ 360 per year.
Finally – will Apple start offering bundles with hardware subsidies? In some ways it makes sense! In others, however, there are so many models of the iPhone that it is difficult to know at what price it will engage.
4 Apple says its new Apple One Services bundle is not inappropriate for Spotify. The award for the odd statement of the day goes to Spotify, who wanted to point out that Apple’s bundle of services puts it at a disadvantage. In a well-crafted statement, Spotify could have made that case – but it chose anger more than clarity.
Interesting to me is that Apple felt the need to respond with a public statement. I think if there wasn’t so much heat around antitrust right now, Apple wouldn’t be upset.
iPad and iPad Air
4 Apple announced the updated eighth-generation 10.2-inch entry-level iPad for $ 329. The iPad is one of the best deals in consumer technology. And Apple is continuing its effort to adopt them in schools instead of Chromebooks.
4 Apple announces new iPad Air, which looks like the iPad Pro, starting at $ 599. The processor is newer than what’s in the iPad Pro, but the iPad Pro has more cores and a stronger GPU. And to switch to USB-C? It states that Apple has no religion about ports. But I also do not expect that the iPhone 12 will change to USB-C.
Which I think is a pity, but I understand Apple’s calculus that it would be disruptive to a large user base. Then again, getting ready to disrupt a user base in the name of advancing tech is something Apple used to inadvertently – literally calling it a “dare” to drop the headphone jack.
4 Apple will release iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 on September 16. The drama is that the developers had historically given slightly more advance notice of these releases. This means that a group of devs who worked to create iOS 14-specific features or updates will not be able to promote them on a single day of update.
4 Apple has sold over 500 million iPads in the last decade. Apple made a big deal of the fact that more than 50 percent of all iPad buyers are first-time iPad buyers. It wants to make the case that the iPad has the potential to grow and encroach on the PC and Chromebook market. This specifically highlights how fast both new iPads were. Although I have to say that benchmarking like Apple rings like this is hollow to me – it should win over experience and the software ecosystem. Chromebooks are not popular in schools because they are fast, they are popular because they are inexpensive, convenient and relatively easy.