In Apple, mobile & tablets, Samsung, Steve Jobs on September 10, 2013 at 11:11 pm
by Robert Liljenwall
A sage marketing professional said that when someone asks you how it’s going, a safe answer always is: “It’s too early to tell.” For no matter what the question is…this response always seems like a very intelligent answer, especially when commenting on Apple’s release of its new phones and iOS7 today. The cat was already out of the bag weeks ago, as reported in BTN, so today’s event was really anti-climactic. Anti-climactic for several reasons: 1) really, no new product was introduced and it’s been two years since Steve Jobs departed and we haven’t seen a new product, only updates and enhancements; 2) there was no home run – a bunch of singles and perhaps a double … and Apple left players on base; and 3) the ‘brand vote’ was negative – the stock didn’t go up, it went down – 2.28 percent loss in overall value today (9/10).
#3 is really not surprising. Carl Icahn touted Apple as a stock near $600 and there have been buy recommendations for $525 and $540 before the event … .so the fact that Apple went down is a bit depressing if you’re an Apple lover … “how could you leave me?” But the reality is that until Apple makes a major move with something new besides cosmetic and interior system improvements, people will question Apple’s vision. Yes, the new enhancements are quite nice – such as finger-print ID … faster processor … longer battery life … and better camera. And a cheaper phone will help Apple in China. But Apple does not appear to be a forward-thinker these days, and it pains me to write this. The Samsung people must have smiles on their face … although the iPhone 5C could give them trouble in China … but we’ll see.
It’s really too early to tell … until Sept. 20 when Apple starts putting the iPhone 5S and 5C in people’s hands. I will most likely trade up – always do because I love my iPhone and trust Apple…and that’s the core of the Apple brand – customers who love their products and trust them. Do Apple people want bigger screens? Perhaps, but frankly, I love the way my iPhone fits in my hand – and I have short fingers, so a wider phone would not help my experience. And besides, Apple’s legacy and quality of design simply cannot be matched by the Galaxy. Just can’t.
Apple was rumored to have the iTV in the wings – but it was a no-show. And when that does happen – I suspect next spring – it will restore some of the lost luster on the Apple brand. Yes, the Apple brand lost some buzz today … sorry to say. I remain loyal but am still waiting. A good friend, Robert Page, sent me this rather poignant quote from Steve Jobs this morning which bears passing along to you:
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it … A vision for Apple [is] ‘What incredible benefits can we give the customer?’ … I think that’s the right path to take.” – RJL
In Apple, mobile & tablets, Samsung, Steve Jobs on September 10, 2013 at 11:06 pm
by Jeff Sandgren
Not one, but two new iPhones. Not one, but two chips. Not one flash element, but two. Not more pixels, but more light. Not a new screen size, but a new home button. Apple’s latest product release wasn’t as much about “… the right path to take …” as it was about the path not taken.
That being said, some of the technological innovations are noteworthy, if not necessarily as mind-blowing as Jobs-era Apple devotees have come to expect. From a technologist’s point of view, here were the sound moves:
- Splitting the line. Dividing iPhone 5 into the C and S lines is good technology – and good business. There’s a big market out there for those who aspire to flash the Apple logo, but not pay the premium price. The choice of a polycarbonate shell is also smart, keeping down the cost while preserving the premium brand value of the upscale model. The big question here is: is it cheap enough?
- 64-bit microprocessor. The A7 is a smart move, and a smart response from Apple to quad processors like Samsung Galaxy S4’s Snapdragon 800 quad processor. With iOS 6 and the upcoming 7, Apple has more control over their micro architecture than Android has, so it makes more sense to unleash the power of 64-bit processing while others add more cores. The big question here is: is it fast enough?
- The Motion Coprocessor. A very interesting response to Samsung’s Galaxy Gear watch, on a lot of levels. It makes sense in the way that a graphics coprocessor does, and the combination of the now-ubiquitous sensors of acceleration, gyroscope and compass into a continuously monitored and integrated sensor array, complemented by the CoreMotion API, should thrill developers almost as much as the A7. And Nike’s immediate jump onto this bandwagon with the Nike+ Move app is probably a great first example. The big question here is: is it a precursor for an iWatch?
- Bigger aperture and pixels, dual flash. As with more processing cores, so with pixels in digital photography; the strategy of competitors has been to add more in order to improve performance. But optics is optics, and the simple science is that if you can smack more photons into a photoreceptor, you theoretically ought to be able to goose the performance. A lot of the camera features touted in the new iPhone 5 were “catch-up” (e.g., slow motion capture and burst mode), but improving the optics and the equally bright move of having dual-toned flash elements that deliver the optimal ‘heat’ for the lighting are smart steps toward better photography. The big question here is: will users see the difference?
- Touch ID home button. Apple’s acquisition last year of AuthenTec made this almost a foregone conclusion, but it’s still a great example of the Jony Ive’s mantra of “more useful and more elegant” and of the blurring of hardware and software in subservience to the user experience. The iTunes purchase authorization is also a no-brainer smart move in this regard. The big question here is: is there an alternate sign-on for icy cold outdoor winter fingers? We assume so.
So much for the Path Taken. Equally notable are the Paths Not Taken. Top of that list has to be the decision not to change screen size, or pixel count (and density). The number one comment I hear when people see an S4 for the first time is “look at that screen.” At an eye-pleasing 441 pixels per inch, the 1920X1080 S4 screen is like crystal meth for the eyes – once you’ve tried it, you’re pretty well hooked (see comparison of two a’s, Galaxy S4 is on the right). Time will tell if Apple succumbs to the chant of ‘You scream, I scream, we all scream for more screen.”
And there are many other me-too’s not pursued, like the lack of Near Field Communications. Instead, Apple has apparently chosen to go with a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) solution in iOS 7, called iBeacon. Other cool features like the Galaxy’s Air View, Smart Scroll and Smart Pause also didn’t make the cut. One can’t dismiss the possibility that some of the choices are driven by recent patent wars. If so, it’s not exactly the customer-centric vision that Jobs espoused. – JTS