Now that the dust has settled, I’ve had a chance to think about the announcements that Apple made on Tuesday, without getting caught up in the heat of the moment. Overall, I think Apple did well, even if they left many disappointed.
Flagship phones are getting more and more boring. There simply isn’t much to do beyond the obvious: better screen, SOC, camera etc. Apple have done all that (well, except the screen, but it’s already top quality), and added a fingerprint sensor to boot. It’s a solid update to an already great phone.
The fingerprint sensor is particularly exciting. It looks like Apple have done to these what they did to touchscreens with the original iPhone: make one that actually works. No messing around, no swiping, no multiple swiping! Just touch and unlock. This could be huge: much more secure than a four digit code, and massively quicker and more convenient. Motorola may have got there years ago with the Atrix, but then Microsoft were also making Pocket PCs before the iPhone. We all know how that turned out.
The 64 bit chip is a nice first, but I find it hard to get too excited by it. I already think that phones like the iPhone 5 / Moto X / Nexus 4 are powerful enough. Don’t get me wrong, more is more, but extra power is way down my list of priorities for a new phone. Still, Apple can hardly be marked down for this, and it should be far more exciting in the next iPad. It is noteworthy though how they will ignore specs when it suits them, and then play them up when it favours them. To be fair, they’re hardly alone with this.
The M7 processor looks interesting, and follows a similar path to that of the Moto X. Anything that increases functionality while not impacting battery life is welcome in my book. I can see this being copied fairly widely, but I doubt it’ll get the same developer support on Android. I don’t use anything like a Fuel Band or Fit Bit so can’t really comment about the implications, but there definitely seems like a lot of potential here.
It isn’t cheap. No one should have expected it to be. But it’s not even really cheaper, at least for consumers. It’s $100 less than the 5S, but then in the normal order of things the 5 would have gone down to this price point anyway. It’s a lower quality, much uglier iPhone 5, that is cheaper (and more profitable) for Apple to produce. The consensus is that it’ll sell more as it’s perceived to be new. I’m sure that the colours will appeal to some/many, but I’d much rather have a beautiful iPhone 5 for the same money.
It’s still a great phone. It’s just no way near as nice as an iPhone 5 (IMHO), and not cheap enough in relation to the 5S to tempt me. I’m not against plastic, but if I pay a premium price I want my phone to really feel premium. I buy Nexi because I want a Google experience, and accept the inferior hardware as a function of the bargain price. I’d rather they charged more and made something better.
No doubt, the 5C will massively outsell the 5S. There are more than enough people who are happy to pay $1500+ over two years, but not an extra $100 for a markedly superior phone.
I wouldn’t expect Apple to make an unprofitable iPhone, but if Google could break even on the Nexus 4 (one year ago) at $299, I’d love to see what Apple could make for $399.
Free iWork apps
This is a nice bonus, and for most people is all they’ll ever need. I use Office all day at work, but happily make do with Google Docs at home. In fact, it may force Google to make Quick Office free for all users now, rather than just premium Apps users.
Office will still be the gold standard for a long time to come, but in the consumer space its days are numbered. I’ve used this analogy a lot recently, but it’s just like consoles and casual games. Consoles may be better, but they’re rapidly becoming a niche of the gaming market, which is largely dominated by touchscreen smartphone/tablet games.
A lot is made about Google devaluing hardware (ironically to the detriment of Android OEMs and not Apple), but Apple is also doing a great job devaluing software. It just became even harder for quality apps to justify their premium ($5+!) pricing.