Apple IPhone 6 & Watch

IMG_7432.JPGJust hours ago Apple unveiled their latest product line-up.

The iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Watch. A lot of the rumours that have been circulating in recent weeks have proven true – the two size/form factor models and some of the hardware specifications.

With the Watch, three models along with the six wrist bands offer a reasonable range for a brand new Apple product line. Of course, the product announcement sets expectations of an early 2015 launch, which aligns with some of the news of supplier challenges in the Watch manufacturing process.

Instead of rehashing all the marketing information that is widely publicized, I will comment on the less reported/focused news.

iOS 8 was unveiled at WWDC 2014 in June, but what I find fascinating is that today’s release of product information blurs the line between functionality which is strictly speaking iOS software. Take for example the new landscape mode for viewing the Home Screen. This feature combines both hardware and software. So IOS 8 has the smarts to display both, but relies on the hardware to help direct the display mode.

In this way, the iPhone is a celebration of both software and hardware. One of the big key enablers is the in-house manufactured A8 chipset which is now a second generation 64-bit architecture. The added separation of graphics processing from central processing along with the new Metal graphics motion gaming hardware/software further evolves the iPhone into the gaming arena.

The latest 5.5-inch iPhone Plus model is a further encroachment of the iPhone product into iPad Air territory. This encroachment is further complicated by the whole suite of iOS 8 Continuity capability. Via continuity an iPad could answer a phone call or facilitate the writing of an iMessage… iOS 8 will also be available to all existing iOS device owners on September 17, two days before the latest product launch.

If you are into playing the iOS games, would you now pick the iPhone 6 Plus or an iPad Air? I guess, if you already have an iPhone, then the iPad makes more sense. If you do not have either device, maybe having just the iPhone 6 Plus makes sense?

Already, the basic iPhone 6 is slightly larger than the iPhone 5S with a 4.7-inch height. I suspect the 5.5-inch form factor is in part a response to the larger screen smart phones released by the likes of Samsung. One feature that caught my attention was the new zoom feature, where the home screen icons appear larger which would assist the older generation who have historically found the small UI and keyboard larger to adjust to.

The biggest news was delivered via the classic “just one more thing” – the Apple Watch. Amongst the new UI and product videos, there were clear examples of iOS8 Continuity at work – phone calls, messages, calendar, etc…

Just how much crossover of iOS8 Apps onto the Watch is yet to b seen. The method of navigation in the Watch is very different to the traditional touch/tap way, in part because of the limited screen real estate. This in itself suggests a limited ability to port apps between the devices.

Even from the limited airtime of the new health and fitness apps that the Watch will deliver, I can see how the Apple Watch will greatly impact products like the Fitbit. Having said that, the Watch is much more than the Fitbit and is also priced at the opposite end of the market…

I can foresee the behavior of consumers where they can leave the iPhone in their bag/pocket and take a call on their watch. A quick scan of the train carriage I currently am sitting in suggests an incredibly high Apple friendly environment – 8 of 9 individuals have their iPhone/iPad devices visible and in use. Only one guy is sporting a different device – which is potentially a Samsung… Two iPads were evident and the likelihood of those owners also sporting an iPhone is very high – just as I transfer trains this was confirmed by one of the owners who put away the iPad and pulled out his iPhone.

The Watch is a classic Apple move – it is NOT about being first to market with a high-technology wearable device – that’s for the likes of Samsung and Google to pursue. Apple instead takes its time to study and learn from the first-movers to deliver a superior offering.

Near field communication (NFC) and the newly announced Apple Pay system is a fees example of this. 2012 was the year of NFC so the experts thought, but until Apple finally adopted the technology nothing serious was going to happen with advancing the concept of mobile payments. Apple is a game changer, they hold considerable market power in influencing both consumers and manufacturers. Any technology standardization effort requires Apple to succeed.

September 19 is iPhone launch day with online pre-launch orders available from September 12. A year ago I decided on the launch day approach. This year I may hedge my bet and do both! If last year’s track record is consistent, the gold model iPhones will very quickly sell out within an hour or so. As part of maximizing my time in queuing up on launch day, I will repeat last year’s experience of purchasing two units and sell the other as part of capitalizing in the likely demand outstripping supply.

So thanks Apple for another season of iPhone buying frenzy. Unlike last year’s release of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, where one device was targeted at the low-end of market, the two iPhone 6 models cater for the premium market. Whilst critics like to pan the iPhone 5C for failing, the reality is that sales volumes have indicated it has performed according to its position as the lesser model to the iPhone 5S. Consistently, the US carrier top 3 smart phone models have shown Apple dominates with its dual line-up. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will undoubtedly continue to reinforce this dominance of Apple at the top.