Sunday, September 7, 2014

Apple's Next Big THINGS Coming Tue

This Tue, Sept 9th, Apple's big Sept event is happening.  What might they have in store this time ?

  • The new iPhone 6 models ?  For sure.
  • iOS 8 released very soon ?  Of course.
  • But what else might be coming from Apple ?
  • What areas are ripe for some major game changing disruption ?


The Annual Sept iPhone Event

From 2007 to 2010 the new iPhone models shipped in June or July.  In 2011 they shifted that to Sept and ever since Sept has been the month of the iPhone event where the new iPhone models were announced, and they ship 2 or 3 weeks later.  So naturally everyone expects that this Sept 9th event will see the new iPhone announcements.

If Apple follows the scheduling pattern that they have the last 2 years, then here's how it's likely to break down, similar to Apple's Sept 2013 event:

  • Sept 9, Tue at 10am PT - Apple's Event.  It will be broadcast live on Apple's web site.
  • Sept 11 or 12 - iPhones available for pre-order online.
  • Sept 19, Fri - iPhone shipments arrive for online order customers and available for purchase in stores.
  • Sept 17, Wed - iOS 8 released to public.
  • Sept 9, Tue - iOS 8 Gold to developers.


iPhone What ?

iPhone 6 Models
iPhone 6 Models
There are a ton of reported rumors and analysis on what is expected to be called the iPhone 6.  So the features and specs have been exhaustingly reported.

But Apple might slip another surprise in there, that no one guessed at, like they did last year with the 64-bit A7 processor and the M7 motion coprocessor.  They are still great at keeping some secrets after all.


But There's One More Thing…

That's a line that Steve Jobs was famous for using to announce a surprise new thing.  They might not use quite that line, since it's such a well known Jobs-ism.  But I do think it's likely they will reboot the sentiment on Tue, because there are a few things that are different about this event and Apple these days.

It seems quite likely that something else big is also coming soon, because earlier this year Eddy Cue said that Apple's got the "best product pipeline" he has seen in his 25 years at the company in the works, and also Tim Cook promised "really great stuff" in new product categories.

Another interesting fact is the venue of this event.  You see, usually Apple’s events are held either at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco or at Apple’s campus in Cupertino.  But this year Apple is holding the event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, also in Cupertino.  That is significant because Apple has only held 3 events there ever, and 1 of them was the 1984 introduction of the Mac.  An event that changed everything for Apple, the tech biz and the world.  Apple is constructing a building for the event - here are some photos and aerial video of the building.


What's the Next Big Thing ?

The rumor mill and analysts consensus seems to be that in addition to the new iPhone 6 models, Apple will announce the long rumored iWatch as well.  The guess is that this will be an early announcement only and it will ship a few months later in 2015.  Similar to what Apple did with the announcement and shipment several months later of the first iPhone in 2007.  And later with the iPad as well in 2010.  So this has become a pattern for Apple when they enter new product categories, like an iWatch.


iWatch

The latest rumors suggest the iWatch could have a curved and flexible OLED display protected with sapphire crystal, wireless charging and NFC integration - among other things.

Some rumors expect the iWatch to be positioned as an accessory to the iPhone, hence making it a natural "But There's One More Thing…" in an iPhone event.  But I think it will be even more powerful as not just a device that can share data with apps on an iPhone, iPad or Mac, but also as a platform that other hardware devices makers can build on.  Perhaps even as a wearable platform that supports other OSes like Android and Windows too.

This opens up the possibilities and market dramatically, removes any feature advantage that other wearable products offer, yet still drives people towards Apple products.  It's a bold move, and it's an un-Apple like thing to do, so it's a long shot, but there are some signs that point towards these types of paradigm shifts being possible.

  • Wearable devices are very fashion sensitive, so having a platform that other watch makers for example, can build for, expands the possible customers that will invest in Apple's ecosystem.
  • HealthKit in iOS 8 provides a way for third party devices and apps to tap in to, what might be positioned as this kind of platform.
  • Sensor tech is advancing very quickly, and with Apple and other competitors making a play in the health tech space, innovation will accelerate dramatically.
  • More functional and open platforms will have an advantage in keeping up and innovating.
  • Apple decided to keep supporting Android and Windows Phone with Beats Music.  Why not extend other parts of the Apple ecosystem ?


NFC and Mobile Payments

Recent iPhone 6 rumors have guessed that the iPhone 6 may also have Near-Field Communication (NFC) capabilities, which is most commonly used in mobile payments.  The UX being that you can tap on or wave your smartphone or smartwatch with NFC near a receiving device, to make a payment instantly.  NFC tech also has other uses that can enable some very cool features in apps where exchanging small amounts of data in very close proximity can be used.

Mobile payments is something that is about to explode.  And there have been many rumors lately of Apple working on something that is a game changer.  I've done some development work in the area of payment services, and so I know that this is ripe for a major disruption.


New Apple TV ?

Although it appears more likely that the next big thing for Apple on Sept 9th will be the iWatch, there is still always the possibility that Apple can surprise everyone.

Even a new Apple TV doesn't happen Sept 9th, it will be happening soon.  And this fall is the time to do it, so they can ship for this holiday season.  There is ton of opportunity to reinvent TV as I've discussed in 2 articles:  Design Inspiration: The Ultimate Internet TV Product & UX Design just recently and in July in Design Inspiration: Smart TV, Internet TV & Gaming.

Android TV is already expected to ship for the holidays, so if Apple doesn't announce a completely new Apple TV platform on Sept 9th, they need to do it in Oct.  Internet TV / Smart TV is an area that is ripe for a game changer.


New Mac Tech ?

This might not happen until 2015 after the new Intel processors ship - see Processor Leaps to Drive Tech Innovations in 2015.  But I do think that there is a game changing opportunity here too.

There are trends under way that are driving convergence of notebook and tablet tech that have manifested themselves in Windows notebook/tablet hybrids like the poorly executed Microsoft Surface, as well as many others now and in the long bumbling history of Windows tablet computing.  As well as trends towards a tablet as the only computing device augmented with keyboards and such.

So far nobody has gotten it right, and so many have been stunning disasters.  So this is ready for some great new design innovations.  And there might be some hidden signs that Apple is working towards this with the innovations in processor tech and the convergence of OS X and iOS that we see in iOS 8 betas and Mac OS X Yosemite dev previews.

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