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A lot of my techie friends are saying¬†that the entry priced-Apple Watch Sport will be their pick next month, and not because of the exterior look. The theory¬†is that Sport is the cheapest way to experience Apple’s new product category in 2015, and since the second-gen Apple Watch will inevitably be upgraded, why¬†pay a premium this year¬†for nicer materials such as¬†stainless steel and sapphire glass?
Despite the Apple Watch’s desire to marry jewelry with technology, it hasn’t lost the baggage gadgets carry, namely the reality that they’ll be¬†outdated and replaced in a relatively short period of time. If the Apple Watch evolves¬†anything like the original iPad did when it became the iPad 2, the differences could¬†be dramatic.
Personally, when I think about getting more perceived¬†value out of a¬†higher-priced stainless steel Apple Watch rather than testing the waters with the cheaper aluminum model, I’m more concerned with how soon the Apple Watch 2 will be announced rather than how much more functional the newer device could be.¬†No matter what happens with the first-generation model, an¬†Apple Watch 2 will come to market. How will Apple balance keeping the Apple Watch evolutionary momentum going with¬†keeping the first-generation¬†model¬†“modern” for enough time to satisfy early adopters?
The reality is that anything goes after the current Apple Watch launches on April 24th. Apple’s history of updating¬†products shows that the company never rules out deviating from the typical 12-month product upgrade cycle. The Apple Watch upgrade cycle is history waiting to be written, but some iOS devices (not considering the stagnated iPod touch) have remained at flagship status for more than 16 months, while others were upgraded after just 7 short months.
If an Apple Watch 2 powered by an S2 chip with even more sensors arrives 6 months after the original Apple Watch goes on sale, original Apple Watch owners wouldn’t lose any functionality from the product they only recently bought; there will just be a newer version to decide to buy or not, and a mild dose of frustration for those who¬†didn’t hold out for the second-gen model.
Here are some of the¬†possibilities illustrating how long the original Apple Watch will remain the only Apple Watch:
The Apple Watch could be the next iPad 3,¬†in terms of time spent as the current model (and maybe weight and thickness, if the next-gen watch slims down). The iPad 4 was unveiled just 7 months after the iPad 3, moving the tablet launch month from March to October. While the iPad family benefitted from having¬†a better flagship product, customers who had spent $500+ ¬†to have the latest tablet enjoyed a rather short bragging period,¬†even given natural evolution in¬†the tech world.
Measuring the Apple Watch’s lifespan is more complicated for a few reasons: it received an early pre-announcement before launch, and will be sold into a small list of countries at first. Apple originally unveiled the Apple Watch in September 2014, and customers won’t be able to own the device until April 2015. That’s a 7-month span ‚ÄĒ about the lifespan of the iPad 3 ‚ÄĒ that you could loosely consider as part of the product’s life cycle. Add 12 months without a hardware update from the time it goes on sale until the next release, and we’re looking at 19 months with the first-gen Watch being the only Apple Watch we know. Calls to innovate would inevitably follow.
With that in mind, it’s not impossible to imagine an Apple Watch 2 update taking place at the end of this year, although I admit I would feel a tad slighted as an Apple Watch 1 customer. Spring 2016 (historically more likely) would satisfy me.
The Apple Watch could be the next iPhone 4. Remember how long it felt between the iPhone 4 unveiling and the highly anticipated iPhone 4S announcement? 16 months in between meant everyone was more than ready for the “iPhone 5″ before Apple revealed the iPhone 4S, featuring¬†nearly identical external hardware and an improved camera paired with Siri. If Apple used March 2016 to reveal the next Watch, that would amount to 18 months in between the announcement and successor, but only 11 months between shipping and the next version. Both the second-gen iPhone and second-gen iPad took this approach.
Keep in mind also that the Apple Watch will only be for sale in nine countries next month, with additional markets likely lighting up in the months that follow. These markets will supplement Apple Watch sales, adding new potential customers during a lengthy product cycle similar to the iPhone 4’s Verizon launch in January 2011, and the white iPhone 4’s delayed release in April 2011.
Apple took nearly 6 months between the original iPhone unveiling and the release, then announced the iPhone 3G 12 months later, a month before its release. Similarly, the original iPad was announced 3 months before going on sale, then replaced after 12 months. Again, bear in mind that the Apple Watch has 7 months lead time between announcement and release, longer than either product.
Native Apple Watch apps are coming in 2015. Adding native app support from third-party developers ‚ÄĒ not just extension-like WatchKit apps ‚ÄĒ to the Apple Watch will be a big deal on the software side. An SDK for creating such apps is on its way this year. Showing it off in June at WWDC, then letting developers ship in the fall a year after the Apple Watch’s first unveiling, would pad the extended life cycle.
Changing this aspect of the software would “update” the Apple Watch lineup without changing the physical product. Come next spring, a March or April Apple Watch 2 announcement would give original Apple Watch customers adequate time to own Apple’s new device before being asked to consider¬†upgrading to the newer, better version or not.
There’s also chatter that¬†new materials are being considered for the casing of the Apple Watch. From the perspective of someone interested in spending a little more money for nicer materials while hoping a newer version doesn’t surface too soon, I’d still be satisfied with my purchase if a revved Apple Watch lineup added new material options while offering the same internal hardware and features. It’s the promise of new sensors and improved battery life that tempt upgrading.
So what should you make of all this information? For me, this is an exercise in¬†determining the value of paying a premium for materials that deliver nearly the same utility ‚ÄĒ for $200 more, the sapphire front will be more protective by some factor than the Ion-X glass found on the Sport model. I would be more likely to upgrade from an Apple Watch to an Apple Watch 2 if I only paid the utility price for a Sport model, but investing in a stainless steel first-gen model would make me hold on to my purchase a little while longer than I might otherwise consider with a tech product.
As I mentioned above, other people are considering these issues when deciding which Apple Watch to purchase, even if they’re already sold on the utility of the device. If you knew the Apple Watch 2 was actually 24 months away from being announced, would you consider paying more for a nicer version now?
Filed under: Apple Watch, Opinion Tagged: App Store, Apple, Apple watch, Apple Watch 2, Apple Watch App Store, Apple Watch apps, Apple Watch SDK, Apple Watch Sport, iPad, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPhone, IPhone 3G, iphone 4, iPhone 4S, Smartphones, smartwatches, Tablets, Watch, watches, WatchKit apps
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Apple today officially launched a version of its Apple Store iPhone trade-in program for¬†China, as noted on the individual store pages for China’s Apple Retail Stores. As is the case¬†in the United States and several other countries with Apple Stores, the program¬†allows a user to bring in an older iPhone model and trade in that device for gift card credit toward the purchase of a new iPhone;¬†the program will most likely not allow a customer to trade in an iPhone toward the purchase of an Apple Watch.¬†But as contrasted with¬†the¬†U.S., France, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Italy, the new China program is limited to iPhones and iPads, and will not support non-Apple smartphones.
While Apple is partnered with BrightStar in many countries to recycle traded-in iPhones, Apple will sell¬†the phones returned in China to Foxconn, which will in turn repair and flip the phones on secondary markets. In the United States, iPhone customers have numerous trade-in options, including¬†Amazon’s ship-free, instant-quote trade-in system,¬†and¬†Gazelle’s aggressive cell phone trade-in program.
Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Angela Ahrendts, Apple Store, Apple watch, Brightstar, china, Foxconn, iPad, iPhone, IPhone 3G, IPhone 3GS, iphone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iphone 6 plus, Refurbished, retail stores, Reuse and Recycle, trade-in
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Early this year, we heard from a source that Apple had been testing multiple resolutions for the iPhone 6’s larger display, including a resolution of 960 x 1704. As we outlined, the benefit of that resolution is that it allows both developers and consumers to smoothly transition to the new display without losing high-quality imagery and graphics found in many applications from the App Store. At that density on both a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display (the two larger screen sizes for the next iPhone), all content would display larger in comparison to the current, 4-inch iPhone, but there would not be more actual screen real estate. Now, we’ve discovered another potential iPhone 6 screen resolution by way of iOS 8 files inside of the latest Xcode 6 Software Development Kit (SDK) betas for developers.
As you can see above, the new resolution is found inside of a file within iOS 8’s “Springboard” application. Springboard is another word for the iPhone’s Home screen (where icons are displayed when you tap¬†the Home button). This particular file outlines for the system where icons, by default, will be placed on an iPhone’s Home screen. This particular file, which was added in Xcode 6 beta 5 earlier this¬†month and still exists in yesterday’s Xcode 6 beta 6, is optimized for an iPhone with a resolution of 414 (width) x 736 (height). The iPhone SDK parses hardware resolutions via “point values,” so the actual “Retina”¬†resolution is in fact double (or potentially triple) whatever numbers the SDK presents.
For example, the 4-inch iPhone 5, 5s, 5c and 5th generation iPod touch display resolution is 640 x 1136, but the SDK presents it as “320 x 568.” This can be seen above on the iPhone file listing a “DefaultIconState” for an iPhone with a pixel height of 568 pixels.
Back to the new 414 x 736 file, this iPhone resolution would be slightly sharper (on the 4.7-inch model) than the current iPhone resolution and this new pixel density would actually bring more screen space to the iPhone, allowing Apple to unlock more software-based functionality for its flagship smartphone lineup. Unlike with previous iPhone resoluiton changes, moving to 414 on the width and 736 on the length would add pixels to both the height and the width of the iPhone.
Like the previously discussed 960 x 1704 resolution in testing earlier this year and the iPhone 5/5s/5c’s 640 x 1136 resolution, this new¬†414 x 736 resolution comes in at a 16:9 ratio. The benefits of Apple sticking to the 16:9 ratio, which seems likely¬†based on the part leaks thus far, include an easier developer transition and consumers continuing to be able to watch widescreen video on an iPhone.
To make sense of what this other potential iPhone resolution could mean for the iPhone 6, we’ve calculated what this resolution would mean at a Retina “2X” scale on new 4-inch (just for completeness, there has been no indication that a revamped 4-inch model is coming) , 4.7-inch, and 5.5-inch screens:
@2x:¬†828 x 1472 on 4-inch display:
@2x:¬†828 x 1472 on 4.7-inch display:
@2x:¬†828 x 1472 on 5.5-inch display:
As you can see, the pixel density on both the new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models would meet Apple’s self-imposed Retina threshold. The 4.7-inch model’s sharpness would also surpass the 326PPI density of the iPhone 5/5S/5c, and the 5.5-inch model would be above the 300PPI threshold that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs discussed upon introducing the iPhone 4’s Retina display in 2010.
The benefit of such a display, beyond the additional screen real estate, would be how many icons Apple could fit on each Home screen. The previously discussed file from the iOS 8 SDK indicates that Apple is still planning to include 20 icons per Home screen (excluding the dock), but the additional pixels on the top and the sides of the new display could open up the door for additional icons per screen. Based on calculations, Apple technically has room (at the current iOS icon sizes) to add two additional rows and one additional column.
In our report from earlier this year, we noted that Apple has also been experimenting with moving away from @2x resolutions in favor of rendering the operating system at @3x. For completeness, here are the same calculations at 1242 x 2208, which is 3x the original point values found in the SDK of 414 x 736.
@3x: 1242¬†x 2208¬†on 4-inch display:
@3x: 1242¬†x 2208¬†on 4.7-inch display:
@3x: 1242¬†x 2208¬†on 5.5-inch display:
As you can see, these 3X pixel densities are extraordinarily high, so it seems unlikely that Apple will be able to reach those numbers while keeping the iPhone 6 thin and light (and of course with proper battery life). Of course, with the new phones already in production, Apple has decided what the resolution will be. At this point, between the two potential variations that we know of, the 828 x 1472 sounds more likely solely based on the reference appearing in the most recent builds of iOS 8, the operating system that will come pre-loaded on the new iPhones. Of course, another potential option is that the iPhone 6’s resolution is another pixel ratio not yet discussed, and whatever it may be will be announced at an event on Tuesday, September 9th. The new devices will also include new sensors and improved camera systems.
Filed under: iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: Apple, Display resolution, iOS, iPhone, iphone 4, iPhone 6, Pixel density, Retina, Retina Display, SpringBoard
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At Monday's WWDC keynote, Apple announced a flurry of fun new features. With OS X Yosemite
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Adam Clark Estes
After introducing the phone to the Indian market¬†in January this year,¬†The Times of India is reporting that Apple has reversed this decision, once more discontinuing the product which was originally released in June 2010.
The paper says that¬†new supplies of the¬†iPhone 4 have been terminated at three leading trade partners in the country. It is weird for Apple to reverse¬†plans so soon, but it was also uncharacteristic of the company to bring back the iPhone 4 in the first place.
Apple may have decided that the iPhone 4s and¬†8 GB iPhone 5c fills the gap well enough that it no longer needs to keep the iPhone 4 around.¬†Despite expanding the¬†availability of the¬†SKU to more countries in mid-April, however, the¬†device is not¬†actually offered in India just yet. It is possible that the transition is still taking place.
The report says that the product¬†has served its purpose¬†in maintaining¬†phone¬†marketshare in India.
It will now pull out the product from all markets, one of its trade partners said. Another partner said the iPhone 4 had served its purpose in India: it doubled the consumer base of iPhones to more than 25 lakh people in one year. And, iPhone users generally being brand loyal, it’s unlikely that these users will migrate to any other brand, the person added.
Coincidentally or otherwise, Virgin Mobile USA¬†stopped¬†offering the phone in early April. ¬†On the April earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said that sales of the iPhone 4 do not makeup a significant portion of iPhone sales:
Just to be clear, on the iPhone 4 question, we‚Äôve sold a very, very low single-digit percentage of those, and so it has extremely minimal impact or result on the quarter.
Cook instead stressed that the 4s is the key reason for Apple’s success in emerging markets. In fact, Cook called out that the 4s as one¬†of the main¬†drivers of new iPhone¬†sales from low-end¬†Android users; over 60% of 4s and 5c buyers came from Android.¬†Apple has been contacted for¬†comment on the¬†iPhone 4′s situation. We will update if we hear anything.
Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: Android, Apple, India, iOS, iPhone, iphone 4, Times of India, Virgin Mobile USA
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New Steve Jobs email a treasure trove of information about Apple TV, Google ‚Äėholy war,‚Äô and behind-the-scenes strategy
A new email from Steve Jobs that was published during today’s Samsung lawsuit (via¬†The Verge) has revealed a lot about Apple’s plans for its products in 2011 and beyond. As we’ve previously noted, Jobs referred to 2011 as a year of “holy war” against Google, but this document goes above that and describes how exactly Apple planned to wage this war.
A few choice bits are below, followed by the complete email.
The company was already planning the iPhone 4S (referred to as the “‘plus’ iPhone 4″) as well as the redesigned iPhone 5 at the time, and apparently had models of the iPhone 5 case ready to display. The email also indicates that Apple¬†was already working on an LTE model for launch in 2012‚ÄĒa goal they hit with the iPhone 5.
The email also indicates a need for a low-cost iPhone based on the iPod touch to replace the 3GS as the low-end model. Eventually it seems this plan was scrapped, as the 3GS managed to stick around for quite a while.
- “plus” iPhone 4 with better antenna, processor, camera & software to stay ahead of competitors until mid 2012
- have LTE version in mid-2012
- create low cost iPhone model based on iPod touch to replace 3GS
- Business & competitive update
- show Droid and RIM ads
- Verizon iPhone
- schedule, marketing, …
- iPhone 5 hardware
- H4 performance
- new antenna design, etc
- new camera
- cost goal
- show model (and/or renderings) – Jony
Perhaps even more interesting is the iOS strategy section, in which Jobs points out areas that Android has surpassed iOS and how the company plans to catch up (or, in the case of Siri, “leapfrog them”).¬†Also interesting: Apple apparently¬†settled on the name “Siri” for its virtual assistant before it named the iPhone 4S‚ÄĒnotice how Jobs referred to the device as a “‘plus’ iPhone 4″ above.
There are also references to iDisk and MobileMe throughout. This is especially interesting because these services were ended in favor of iCloud in 2011. (“Durango” and “Telluride” below are codenames for iOS builds.)
- Strategy: catch up to Android where we are behind (notifications, tethering, speech, …) and leapfrog them (Siri, …)
- Timeline of iOS releases from first until Telluride, including Verizon
- Jasper tent poles
- Durango tent poles (without MobileMe)
- Telluride tent poles (with “catch up” and “leapfrog” notations on each one)
Speaking of MobileMe, there’s an entire section of the email dedicated to that service and its future. In that section, Jobs refers to Google as being “way ahead” in terms of cloud contacts, email, and calendars. Jobs sought to rectify that disparity and add new MobileMe features to help “make [the] Apple ecosystem even more sticky” so that customers would have a harder time leaving.
- tie all of our products together
- make Apple ecosystem even more sticky
- Free MobileMe for iPhone 4, iPad and new iPod touch
- Sign up with Apple ID, Find My iPhone
- Find My Friends, Calendar, Contacts, Bookmarks, Photo Stream
- iWork cloud storage
– cloud storage for third party apps
– iOS backup
– new iDisk for Mac
As you can above, Apple’s plans for what we now know as iCloud were originally slated for release as an updated version of MobileMe. There were plans to add third-party cloud storage, iOS backup support, Photo Stream, Find My Friends, and all of the other iCloud features we’ve gotten used to since the service launched. Like iCloud, the revamped MobileMe was also going to be available for¬†free to all new customers.
The eighth point of the email deals with the future of the Apple TV. Jobs points out that new content from sources such as NBC and HBO are needed, and suggests that TV subscriptions could be the future. Overall, however, Apple just wants to keep itself in the living room market.
You can read the entire email below:
Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: AirPlay, Android, Apple TV, Calendars, contacts, email, Google, HBO, holy war, icloud, iOS, IPhone 3GS, iphone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, IPod Touch, iWork, michael tchao, MobileMe, NBC, Phil Schiller, Siri, Steve Jobs
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The Times of India reports that Apple is planning to re-introduce the 8 GB version of the iPhone 4 in India to combat its sluggish sales. The report states that the company hopes the even lower price of the device will help win back its share of the market, which is slipping away to competitors.
The phone would be available at a lower price than before, reportedly around¬†‚āĻ15,000 (about $240). Apple lost a large portion of its market share in India after phasing out the iPhone 4, which was previously one of the country’s top three phones.
Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: India, iphone 4
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