Reflecting on Apple's September 2018 special event


(Tommy Weir) #1

The more I think about it the less impressed I am generally.

There were two occasions when the word ‘Microsoft’ popped into my head during the event, the first was the MI video, and the second was Tim’s throaty roar. Microsoft’s leadership when the company was at their peak did a lot of roaring. They put out hokey videos too. Now the apple video was polished but lacked a raison d’etre beyond ‘fun’. Fun was the big thing for Microsoft. Culture was Steve’s thing, what does this all mean in a wider context.

But from the self-leak at the start of the day with all the rumors being confirmed through the rushed nature of the presentation it all felt a little shambolic to me.

The names… Steve must be turning in his grave. They don’t make sense to me. The XR should be the XC. The XS makes the S designation look like a bad idea, especially with the box around it. And the Max, sorry the XS Max sounds like something another manufacturer would think was awesome.

The range of iPhones on offer now lacks clarity, to put it mildly. I dread someone asking my advice on them, it’s going to be pretty nit picky.

The watch, especially the heart and ECG capability was the one true highlight. Apple are knocking this out of the park I think. Here was the cultural impact they should have been promoting. But maybe they did enough of that before. It’s like the one thing they care about now.

The presentation only settled down with Phil and the camera. A solid base of achievement there and they continue to advance it. That, at least, felt steady if overlong.


(Simon) #2

My impression is that Apple now does whatever their market research tells them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re really good at it. They know very well what sells and how to make money. But what I miss from Steve’s day is a sense of doing what you believe “is right” and focusing on what you believe is important (technology wise, not politically or socially). It’s not as if Steve’s way didn’t make them a lot of money. Maybe this way makes even more, but it apparently also comes with a lack of direction and dedication to an idea or concept.

I think this recent event reflected that change. I’m sure it was a highly successful show in terms of launching products and generating sales. But I also note that it didn’t convey to me that Tim has a clear idea of what/how his products should be and that that is where Apple would be headed.


(Adam Engst) #3

The names are a mess, but they’ve been a mess for a long time. The S has never been given a decent explanation, and it’s always been in a box. At least Apple went back to uppercasing the S and R, which makes writing about them easier with plurals and possessives. Your point about the R versus C is spot on; the best I can come up with is that Apple didn’t want color to seem to be the primary differentiator.

The iPhone lineup is a bit odd at the moment, but I don’t think it’s terribly confusing. Want modern tech but not at the full price? Buy the iPhone XR. Want the latest and greatest? Decide between the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max based on size and cost. Can’t justify any of the prices? Buy an iPhone 7 or 8.

To an extent, I think the iPhones were a little underwhelming because we’re in an off year. Last year brought the iPhone X, which was a big jump forward. Next year will probably bring something big again. That said, the new models are still the most impressive iPhones ever. I wouldn’t expect anything else.

I do think the Apple Watch Series 4 is going to sell like hotcakes to older folks who have legitimate worries about falling and heart health.


(Fearghas McKay) #4

Most of the AW Series 4 seem to be on mid October delivery currently, some were already on that 30 minutes into the sales period. The XS Max is on late Sept-early Oct delivery in comparison.


(Paul Schinder) #5

I ordered two XS’s, one 512 and one 256, and they’re both scheduled to arrive a week from today. Admittedly I set up the orders beforehand and completed them at 3:01 am EDT…


(Simon) #6

I guess you could argue R is before S to indicate that it’s somehow inferior. Since Apple has worked so hard to educate people that bigger phones are better, they’re now in a pickle when it comes to explaining why their 5.8" super expensive phone is somehow better than their 6.1" phone.

I see your point about capitalizing the letter making plurals and possessives much easier, but again they have managed to push themselves into an unpleasant corner. Now people see the iPhone extra small (since that’s what XS is universally used for) and are then left to wonder what “extra small max” could possibly mean in terms of size. Plus, it just sounds like cheap soda.

I think using something along the lines of iPhone, iPhone+, or iPhone mini would have made it much easier to avoid these issues. Also, get rid of (bi-)annually changing versioning. Use release year to differentiate in documentation when necessary. As on Mac, or cars for that matter.


(Simon) #7

I understood the issue to rather be that there seems to be many products to reach every possible price point, rather than distinct products to really serve different needs/uses. Your distinction does make perfect size (apart from why 7 vs. 8), but it neglects that there’s now a whole bunch of near-identical purpose phones while leaving other use cases uncovered.

I suppose an argument could be made that you’d rather see a broader feature range covered than Apple’s focus on covering a wide price range (north of $500 that is).


(Doug Hogg) #8

I am wondering if Apple will release an update of the iPhone SE in the spring.

:slight_smile:

Doug Hogg


(Adam Engst) #9

Hmm, interesting point. Apart from the size issue, what are different use cases that could be met by different models?


(Tommy Weir) #10

I think @Simon has identified what it is about the phone lineup that bugs me. And @ace rightly seeks to clarify.

I guess for me I’ve grown a little out of love with the iPhone. The internet everywhere has proven somewhat problematic and I’ve come to wish to limit and define what I use this device for.

It’s a camera.
It’s an audio player.
It’s an email/message center.
It’s a calendar/todo tool.
It’s a map.
It’s a news (official and social) service.

That’s pretty well it. A fair few roles as it stands but I don’t find it a good tool for documents or for all the other bazillion apps which I’ve spent far too much time and cash on. At least it’s not good for me.

The SE is a perfect device for this scenario. Lots of other ones too but also for this one.

I’ve come to having my fave podcast app, my fave camera app, my fave streaming radio app etc. And the rest can go to wherever.

For a lot of people their phone is their primary computer. It’s not mine. I don’t wish to explore. Quite the opposite.


(Adam Engst) #11

10 posts were split to a new topic: Accessibility of Apple devices


(frederico) #13

My eyesight is definitely getting worse, but I find that my gorgeous OLED iPhone X can offer me a nice newsfeed or half a chapter in a book while waiting in the doctors office, should I forget to bring my iPad Air 2 along. Every one of my peers and younger relations with good or adequately corrected vision absolutely loves the biggest phone possible; they read on them, watch tv, sports and movies, and more. Not all my cup of tea, but I also have options. Some people can only afford one device and nmake it do plenty.

For me, my Parkinson’s has made typing on any keyboard extremely difficult; I used to type 130wpm on an ergo keyboard; and I could do up to 60wpm on the original iPhone through the iPhone 4 and 5/SE.

Now, I find that text to speech is incredibly useful and generally pretty accurate; the 30 second time out is the only thing that really annoys me; but I find now that my iPhone becomes a very effective primary workstation for inputting text. I honestly like it better than Dictation on my Mac, even though the Mac never times out. The punctuation and page structure instructions simply work better on iOS. I’m dictating this now, and I see only a couple of tiny errors that I will have to correct manually.

It’s really awesome to only need to hold up a small screen and use the built-in microphone or my headset to apply a great amount of words in a short amount of time to a page. Of course it’s not always appropriate to dictate in public; but I’m generally not ashamed or embarrassed to use it for necessary messaging wherever I am, and it doesn’t seem to bother people, that I can tell.

Considering what I spent on this luxury device, and how well it works, I am very unlikely to be tempted by this year’s S models; I absolutely don’t want a larger phone, and I wish this one were considerably smaller, although it need not be as small as my beloved SE, or my even more beloved 4.

The ‘Max’ moniker absolutely makes me cringe; I would’ve preferred they called it the iPhone XT, which would have better complemented the iPhone XR.

Regarding the missing humanity of Steve, I’m not sure I agree; I think Lisa Jackson getting on stage and talking about recycling and clean power added that element for me, regardless of the awkward structure of the hype show put on by Tim. I also watched all of the videos and felt the emotion contained within them; but I’m now confused as to whether all the videos I watched we’re actually in the presentation itself, so I may be off base.

They’ve only come close once or twice to half the polish and perfection and beauty of a Stevenote. Phil and Craig can do great stuff, but Tim is not Steve, and never will be. I just cling to the trust I have that he is not, despite all of his logistics prowess, just in it for the money. Yes he is going to nickel and dime and squeeze every penny he can; it’s in his nature; but I also believe that the mission to help humans be humans without letting technology become first and foremost is The Real Deal.

Overall I was not really let down by this event, as the Mac universe tends to be when they don’t get every rumored or imagined toy and new device with every impossible spec and feature that they desire including a Hogwarts tuition and Ollivander Pencil Wand. It was a 2 1/2 product event, and I’m content that there’s a ton more in the pipeline that will make me happy. I hope.


#14

Simon

    September 14

My impression is that Apple now does whatever their market research tells them.

Apple clearly does some market research for product development, but they haven’t had any current relationships on record with research firms that Imcould find in a quick search. Whatever they do is probably extremely small and conducted in-house. Apple is very focused on closely monitoring market conditions, which is different from market research.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re really good at it. They know very well what sells and how to make money. But what I miss from Steve’s day is a sense of doing what you believe “is right” and focusing on what you believe is important (technology wise, not politically or socially). It’s not as if Steve’s way didn’t make them a lot of money.

Steve initially made a TON of money for Apple for the first few years. Unfortunately, he kind of took his laser focused eye off of market conditions, started driving the company he built into the ground, and got himself fired. But the people that replaced him were a million times worse.

In terms of values and technology, I was very impressed by the head of environmental issues’ presentation about how Apple’s new campus and worldwide operations are now 100% renewable, and that they are transitioning all Apple hardware to be made from 100% renewable materials in the next few years. She pointed out that the latest iPhones are made from renewable plastic, that they are using some renewable metals and working on more.

She also pointed out that iPhones are built to last longer, and that Apple users tend to hang on to them longer, and if I remember correctly, that 5s is alive and well in the wild and will be able to use the. The new iOS was designed to speed up and add features to older models as well as more recent ones.

Maybe this way makes even more, but it apparently also comes with a lack of direction and dedication to an idea or concept.

The foundations of Steve’s strategy was to sell an ecosystem of products and services that all work wonderfully with one another, and that hardware, operating systems and some apps are exclusive to Apple. And you can be sure that if you buy a new phone this week, it will be supported with upgrades and services for years.

I think this recent event reflected that change. I’m sure it was a highly successful show in terms of launching products and generating sales. But I also note that it didn’t convey to me that Tim has a clear idea of what/how his products should be and that that is where Apple would be headed.

IMHO, Tim is doing not only a great job building up on to Apple’s existing products and services, he acquired built Music and AirPods, launched Watch, Apple TV, Pay, and is in the midst of a redesign and refocus of Stores. He’s also responsible for the development of whatever transportation systems are up Apple’s sleeve, their health initiatives, the no longer secret streaming video service, VR/AR and AI development, and probably has more up his sleeve.


(Tommy Weir) #15

I’d agree with all that Marilyn. The transition Tim has brought is a success by any metric. Extraordinary really. I guess what’s missing and it’s knowing that Apple are in transition, are working their way into the ubiquitous-computing-future we are already living within, was a sense that they are leading with a guiding purpose, a ‘we see what’s needed and here’s where where we are going’ message.

They have a good deal of it in train, the environmental impact you rightly identify, their tack on privacy, their focus on health, the introduction of Screentime, parental controls best in show, those are the elements that indicate to me that they see the hurt, they see the issues, and they are moving on those fronts. What I’d like to see is them leading out with that, owning it, being loud on that front.


(Adam Engst) #16

And it’s worth remembering that Tim and the current executive team (which has been very stable) are forging new ground at all times. Apple is vastly bigger and more profitable than ever before, and it plays a different role in the industry than it ever did. I don’t envy Apple’s executives in trying to decide precisely where to put their attention, given that attention is probably the scarce resource at Apple (goodness knows that money isn’t).


(Michel Hedley) #17

At least ‘thinness’ didn’t get the perpetual mention this time. Maybe Apple has got over its obsession with ‘thinness’. I always thought the stress on thinness was over done. Most of us iPhone users put the phone in a case for protection and so the thinness is immaterial.

The mantra of thinness also meant we users lost interface options.

Thinness also compromised battery storage and therefore reduced the life of the phone and the duration of a charged iPhone.

Because we put on a case on our phones, then the Apple glowing descriptions of the appearance of iPhones was similarly strange.

Another feature that Apple is not talking strongly about these days is the 3D Touch. I tried to use it but it was so flaky that I gave up. Sometimes a swipe worked but mostly not. More difficult when trying to do some iPhone function quickly. Also, life is too short to remember what swipe did what. For these reasons I want to have a iPhone with a home button. I don’t want to fiddle around trying to work out if the reason I could not get an app, etc to work was whether I used the correct swipe; whether I used the correct amount of swipe pressure; whether I swiped for long enough and in the correct direction; etc. Even the Apple employee got confused when doing the demonstration of Face ID.