At its lengthy announcement last Wednesday, Apple announced a number of new products, including the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, iPad Pro, and the new Apple TV. As a number of outlets have been quick to point out, there was nothing truly revolutionary here. However, I think there were a number of compelling iterations that didn’t so much seek to redefine an existing category as expand Apple’s grip on certain markets. Namely:
- iPhone 6S and 6S Plus: As expected, these were principally spec and camera updates. The addition of 3D Touch was welcome. Apple pioneered multi-touch, and given that movements in all lateral dimensions had basically been taken, the ability to move up and down seemed pretty warranted.
- iPad Pro: The consumer market is pretty saturated, and the iPhone holds about a 44% market share in the US. It’s obvious that Apple is now targeting the enterprise market through its much-heralded partnership with IBM (perhaps the archetype of an enterprise firm), and now through its reconfiguration of the iPad for business through the addition of a keyboard, stylus, and tight integration with Office. I would argue that the introduction of the iPad Pro will do more to bolster Microsoft’s Surface, from a “rising tide lifts all boats” standpoint. Until now, the Surface has been something of a ‘tweener device. But Apple’s new focus on enterprise, and the prevalence of BYOD may make the idea of a hybrid device in the workplace more acceptable. And since enterprise is, for the time being, a Windows town, Microsoft may benefit from this increased acceptance of 12-inch touchscreen devices in the workplace.
- Apple TV: Benedict Evans points out that the new Apple TV isn’t much to write home about. It has better support for games, and the Siri component is a nice bonus. But there is no drastic reimagining of ESPN and AMC as standalone app-channels.
- The $32/month iPhone subscription program, should it succeed, would present an interesting role reversal between Apple and the mobile operators. Namely, the iPhone is phenomenally popular, and Apple can basically make or break carriers (a point that was also made years ago, when the iPhone was finally brought to Verizon). There is a legislative element to this move, as well. Given that Congress passed legislation to allow domestic SIM unlocks, it is easier than ever before to switch carriers. Since no one bears allegiance to their mobile operator – or any “dumb pipe” firm like Verizon, Comcast, or TimeWarner – but users will swear by their iPhone, Apple wants to be sure that no matter what carrier you’re on, you’re using an iPhone.