Tim Cook has come under pressure and criticism from many for riding the coattails of the line-up crafted by Steve Jobs. The new products, the new open approach to press and communicating with the world, and picking the venue where the original Mac was introduced, Tim Cook in his own subtle way is communicating to the world — a brand new era for Apple. U2’s Bono called him the “zen master” and perhaps that is an ideal description of the man who will need a lot of zen to keep this increasingly complex company on track.
Cook, deserves a lot of credit for holding and nurturing Apple through the
four three years since Steve’s passing and yesterday, he indicated to the world, the grieving is over. This is Cook’s Apple. I do believe, the company will miss the ruthless editing and polish of Steve Jobs. The magic and ability to mesmerize is fading, despite the whiz bang but in the end it is really about making “lifestyle” products the — Apple way. I shared some of these thoughts with Emily Chang on the evening edition of Bloomberg West show earlier this week.
Bigger is Bigger: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus
- While a lot of people are going to focus on VoLTE, for me the killer feature is something I have always been a big fan off — voice over wifi, which is a new variation on a technology first introduced to us as UMA. It has taken six years since we first talked about it. Finally the new iPhone 6 will have that capability and the network to bring us that – T-Mobile who first introduced it as a special Blackberry. It is part of new enhancements to the phone that have further eroded voice and voice’s role as the primary driver of the phone ecosystem. To call it an iPhone doesn’t really make sense anymore.
- iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus are truly a step forward and they are a symbol of what Apple does well. They are going to sell well, especially in Asia. I would be a net buyer of Apple, just on the release of these devices. The first day orders despite the hiccups in the online ordering system and long wait times are a sign that Apple has yet another winner.
- If you compare iPhone 6+ with some of the larger Androids out there, it is not only competitive, it is quite simply the best large phone in the market — on features and quality of build, not to mention the capabilities. The iOS 8 gives it even more parity with Android. (If you are an Android person, my money is on One+, probably one of the most gorgeous devices in the Android ecosystem.)
- iPhone 6+ is truly magical. The size, the weight and the display are enough for me to say goodbye to the iPad Mini. I think it will cannablize the iPad Mini sales. Say hello to even bigger-larger iPad Airs.
- The iPhone 6+ will have a big impact on app design. (My buddy Ed Aten writes about new things he had to factor into designing his new app Merchbar.
What Chips Tell
Apple’s technical capabilities of making and integrating great technology — material sciences, chips, bringing new optical technologies, displays and amazing capabilities to marry sensors and network silicon is truly in a class of its own. Marrying them to leading edge manufacturing technologies is what makes Apple different from all its rivals. Hardware is core to its DNA and the efforts put into these areas are a good testament. I am always impressed by what they do under the hood as much as I am by their ability to pilfer my pockets.
- The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus come with 8MP iSight camera. The iPhone 6 has “digital” image stabilization & the 6 Plus has optical image stabilization.
- The new A8 Processor: Built on 20 nanometer process, the chip is 17% smaller than A7. It has 2 billion transistors versus 1 billion transistors in A7 processor. It has 25% faster CPU and 50% faster graphics processor unit (which translates into massive gaming gains.) It is rumored to have a clock speed of 1.4 GHz versus A7 which ran at 1.3 GHz. The A8 processor is a sign that Intel is falling behind in mobile and the gap between Apple and Intel is getting wider.
- There are 50% faster LTE modem speeds.
- Apple introduced the new M8 motion co-processor. It includes a barometer sensor that allows the device to calculate distance and elevation by measuring air pressure changes.
- Apple Watch is powered by a single system-in-a-package chip, S1. Still waiting to find out the details of this chip since the watch isn’t really available for quite sometime.
From the minute I saw the demo, it was clear to me that Apple Pay probably was the biggest news of the day that is going to get pushed into the background by all the hoopla around Apple Watch. And I was right — most of the attention has been around the watch, but to me, this is a game changer. In my chat with Emily Chang on Bloomberg, I pointed that out and I believe this materially will change the game. “What apple has done is given the mobile payment system a massive jump start by just being a player in the marketplace,” is what I told Emily.
Tim Cook, in an interview with USA Today said, “Apple Pay takes a five-decade-old (credit card) technology and blows it up.” That is the key point. It is not the first attempt, but what it is a well done attempt that redefines our expectations of how to pay for things. It doesn’t do too much, but it does it differently enough that makes it different and unique. The iPod changed how we interacted with music. iPhone introduced us to touch and sold us on the idea of simple, easy and pocketable anywhere Internet. The iDevices introduced simple yet radically different behaviors. iPhone paved the way for others. Apple Pay does precisely that.
- Quite a few articles have emerged that speculate on all sorts of financial agreements Apple has been able to make with banks. One article in the FT points out that banks and financial institutions will pay 15 cents per $100 to Apple. You can see if Apple Pay works, this could be one big money machine for Apple.
- Banks are happy to pay as they are still relevant in this whole scheme.
- Payment+biometric chip level security is a pretty big deal and I think we have entered the future.
- Big and much needed boost for NFC.
- Android ecosystem also benefits from this and so does the idea of mobile payments.
- This is a net positive for the entire “money” ecosystem as it will start to refocus average people on how to pay. This is a case where 1+1 = 11
- Paypal will come to its own destiny.
- Square will have to focus on becoming the Amazon Web Services for real-world businesses — starting with the point of sale system, and building a massive backend system that captures everything from inventory, ordering to bookings and business management. It might not be sexy, but it can be profitable — very profitable. No surprise they raised a ton more money recently. In April 2012, then Square COO Keith Rabois was not a NFC fan, and was very blunt when he said: “We are waiting for folks to come up with compelling NFC apps. And if NFC does become popular, we can bake it into our product as well.” Apple just gave them a reason to embrace NFC.
- “We are not in the business of collecting your data. So, when you go to a physical location and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn’t know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. The transaction is between you, the merchant and your bank. It’s fast, it’s secure and it’s private.” Eddy Cue, Senior Vice President, Apple.
- Apple Pay API should make one touch shopping possible from anywhere on the web. I think this deserves a lot more attention and could be disruptive in its own unique way.
- There are some retailers who are touting NFC costs as reasons to not support Apple Pay. Eventually they will change their tune — I think they will be forced by the consumers.
There have been some public reports on how Apple Pay works. I don’t have first hand knowledge. But based on reports on other publications, it seems that each credit card is entered into Apple Pay gets a token (known as a Dynamic Account Number) which is stored on the “secure element” a new chip that works in tandem with biometric Touch ID. At time of transaction, you press Touch ID.
[Touch ID] authentication prompts the “secure element” to send the token and cryptogram to the merchant. The network decrypts the cryptogram and determines whether it is authentic or not. If it is deemed authentic, the network will pass it along to the issuer (i.e. the bank), which then decrypts the token. In other words, every party to the transaction decrypts something. Once the issuer decrypts the token and determines that it is authentic, the issuer/bank authorizes the transaction. Money is then credited to the merchant and marked as an amount owed by the cardholder.
This process makes me ask some key questions about the customer-retailer relationship. From what I can understand is that this transaction will take away retailers ability to store any personal data in their systems and do data mining. The only way for retail giants to get to know their customers and their shopping habits is through data mining their credit card transactions and all the data that comes with it. Apple Pay it seems comes in the way of them getting granular information on their customer and in the long run will disintermediate them totally. Just as iPhone turned carriers into dumb pipes pretty quickly, Apple Pay will turn retailers into dumb retailers as well. Again this is my conjecture and if you know how this will work, or know someone who might know how this whole thing works from a merchant’s perspective — please get in touch so I can understand this and correct my speculation and conjecture.
Some Final Thoughts
- Apple is now a lifestyle and not a computer-tech company.
- The wearable device ecosystem should be on notice and know they have a brand new and a fierce competitor.
- Cook is finally showing to the world what he is made of. I think he is one of the best CEOs in the business.
- Apple’s event raised the stakes for Amazon which is still in the toddler stage of its device strategy.
- The announcements were net-neutral for Google, and not so great for Samsung.
- Xiaomi has something new to copy, so they must be popping bottles.
- Great news for the mobile payments.
- Apple gets a solid A with this new line-up which will only rev-up the machine to further grow $173 billion in revenues.
- Bottom line from my stand point of this event was that whether it was the iPhone 6, Apple Watch or Apple Pay, you can clearly see that the company’s innovation engine that focuses on industrial design and underlying core technologies is purring like a fierce big cat. It remains miles ahead of everyone else. However, from a software-inside and services, I see some gathering clouds.
- There is one aspect of Apple people aren’t really talking about right now — Operational Risk! The company has multiple product lines and in multiple flavors. The inventory risks have gone up. It is not just iPhones and iPads, but Beats and Apple Watch are adding the risk. While it is easy to say that this field of operations is Cook’s greatest strength, we know that in the fashion and lifestyle businesses, demand from mainstream (if somewhat elite) audience is a fickle mistress.
- Apple Watch merits a whole separate entry, so stay tuned for that.
- It is great to not write on a deadline.
28 thoughts on “Some reflections on the new Apple Event”
Reblogged this on Yeliz and commented:
I think Apple get’s a lot of unnecessary bad rep form tech people always trying to say Apple is not worth the hype. But it always is and the results show it. It’s like The Beatles and Rolling Stone fan issue – I like Android, no I like Apple. Jobs was a perfectionist and intensely focused on the product. They will miss him, but people at Apple have learned enough to continue safely forward.
Well said Hrvoje. I think they will miss his editing capabilities.
Good op-ed. The best punch line “To call it an iPhone doesn’t really make sense anymore.”
Good insight. Your point about retailers possibly not being able to gather personal data may explain why some (particularly Wal-Mart) are opting out of Apple Pay for now.
I don’t think it is the data issue that Walmart are concerned about and why they are opting out. I believe that they see it has a cost that they don’t want to be burdened with. Apple has never installed NFC capable terminals and the card reader ones they have are antiquated and either broken or falling apart.
In fact I’ve always harped on until people tell me to shut up that the trouble with NFC adoption is that there are more than enough devices that have NFC but in the USA it just has not taken off because the retail establishment drag their feet. When the biggest chain in the USA has already dug their heels in it is up to their customers to shout out and say to them “No NFC no business from us!”, give it a year and smaller chains adopting NFC it may drive Walmart to worry that their decline in business is due to their refusal to replace their broken old terminals. You can bet that they (Walmart) won’t adopt Chip and Pin capable devices until banks start issuing cards without a magnetic stripe on them. It is the loss of sales that drives Walmart more than the introduction of new technology and sadly that is what will eventually push them but only if their biggest rivals make the move and customers start to feel that using NFC for payment is easier than using a credit card.
US retailers will be replacing credit card terminals in the next year to support EMV or chip & pin. These new terminals will almost certainly support NFC.
Walmart is withholding support because they are launching their own mobile payment scheme along with other retailers.
I wonder how long Walmart holds out. IT be interesting to see how it works out.
It is my speculation, so not really a fact. Divergent opinions here and also on my Twitter feed show that there is a lot of clarity that is needed here.
Reblogged this on Taste of Apple Tech and commented:
Some interesting thoughts here. Good read.
Great thoughts, this is best article so far, I think Apple Pay will only make a difference at stores if its quicker, remember you still need to have your phone or watch with you, turn it on and probably have some app open, I mean you still need to hand over those items to some clerk. Is the process really going to make the process better, storing your credit cards in the phone is great, but all we really want is less time waiting in lines and convenience.
Until you can pay for items automatically and have some reader scan all the items at once without waiting in any line at all, its still requires patience. NFC is great for businesses like hotels and car dealerships ,but at the grocery store I want a reader to scan all my items at once, I do not know much about RFID, but I want to buy a physical product right at the store shelf and walk out with it. That’s when I say we have made a leap.
I agree. Apple Pay was the big thing BUT it’s going to take years before it comes alive in Europe….
It took a long time before iTunes came to Europe as well, but eventually it did and had an impact. I see similar dynamic play out as I do believe that NFC will get a boost now that both Google and Apple are pushing it hard.
A lot if thinking went into this analysis, but a little too one sided.
Those are speculations. The bottom line is that I just bought a new smartphone for my daughter, the Lumia 520. It costs north of 100€. Apple is asking that I pay 7 times that amount for an iPhone so that I can maybe enjoy paying with it. Having played with my daughter’s phone and liked it very much, I am now eying in the direction of the soon to be released Lumia 830. Apple, you did not convince me to through in more than double that amount to replace my 4s. I can keep paying with plastic or cash as long as it does not cost me that much.
What is not said or speculated in the article is how will Apple measure success and how will journalists and analysts like Om measure success. I agree with Om that Apple could be spreading itself thin. Apple may not want to keep customers like cxp4 here who are focused on lower cost devices. They could be focused initially on customers who don’t mind the additional cost and one might reasonably assume that those customers will then shop at places elsewhere that also charge more. Those retail locations may employ NFC terminals to interact with their customers. Walmart may not right away, but why would Walmart not want an Apple customer. Typically those are people willing to spend which is evidenced by cxp4’s comment on pricing. Why would any retailer not want customers willing to spend more? I think in the long run Apple’s customers will be valued for that.
I am not saying all Android customers are not willing to spend, many of them are, just not on smart phones or they see other value in Android (for example they don’t want to support Apple) or other perceived value in Android and other OS smart phones. But if you have an iPhone the argument could be made you are willing to spend. Just my conjecture to match Om’s.
The data problem will just drive the merchants to use their rewards programs.
Seems like every store has a private rewards card they want us to use.
I like to pay cash just so they can’t track me.
Good, solid article, Om. You told is what you know, let us know when you were hypothesizing, and also told us when you couldn’t offer an opinion yet because of insufficient evidence. The opposite of click baiting, my friend.
You mentioned Apple’s DNA. This is not merely a metaphor for a storehouse of knowledge, but biologically DNA allows change to occur to adapt to new environmental demands. It is at the bedrock of learning systems, and this is where Apple excels. It learns from its own successes and failures, accepts change as inevitable, and attempts to mitigate the inevitability of occasional failure by creating its own future, rather than reacting as poor Microsoft has discovered to its misfortune (cue the video of Ballmer’s reaction to the original iPhone release, 2007.)
There will be another Apple keynote soon, likely with new iMacs and other unexpected hardware – the one, two punch – which will dismay both Samsung and Google. Yosemite will be released – free of course – and we will hear more of NFC and iBeacon technology integration.
What we saw last Tuesday was the first course in a sumptuous technology and lifestyle meal.
It’s ours to savour.
Thanks Les. I would say, there is a whole lot of things to be worried about as well, as Apple is doing too much and you can see resources spread thin, despite them being an awesome execution machine.
I think Apple’s history has always been one of spreading its resources thinly, as Jobs’ official biography informed us, and from my own observations having met with certain teams and individuals. They work incredibly hard and long hours, and its creative teams operate like a startup.
When Jobs returned, as you know, he restructed the product line which eventually gave us the digital hub concept. Which they’ve now dispensed with and reinvented once more via the iPhone. We’ve had an apparently quiet period of late (“Apple can’t innovate – my ass”), and we’re about to witness the interdependent result of this “fortress of solitude” period.
For myself, I enjoy watching Apple try its hand at disempowering those who take their relations with their customers for granted, and upending them, as per music, movies and soon enough television and finance. Couldn’t happen to a nice bunch of myopics.
Have a look at the demo video. It’s quite simple. You tap your phone on the credit card reading terminal and authorize with TouchID. If anything, this brings us closer to being able to do what you want which is scan an item with your phone and pay for it and walk out, but that’ll require a bit more work on the retailers than just handling the payments.
I think that isn’t too far into the future, but for now they have to help people get used to the behavior of using hold/tap/pay.
It’s almost 6AM here in Santa Fe and Nottingham Forest v Derby County prematch is about to start on beIN Sports. So, I’ll try for more compact than usual.
Suffice it to say I rely on my iPad Air as portable device and as a retired old geek, shopping happens alongside my wife. All run through her accounts excepting separate online accounts – though we are an Amazon Prime extended family. She uses her iPhone 4.
Banking IT is her craft and I ordered her an iPhone 6 as an anniversary present. We look forward to using it. It will guide much of our casual local shopping just as do adopters of the complete Square solutions do.
Many of commenters what-ifs and misconceptions would have been answered if they were my kind of news junkie – w/Bloomberg running in the background all day – in addition to GigaOM style tech sites handy on the iPad in the living room. Folks should watch the BTV video interview Emily did with global innovation geek from VISA. Almost every geek question was answered in the Apple presentation. Go back and watch it, again.
BTW, one of my [most boring] careers was in logistics. Tim Cook is a cross between Einstein and Field Marshall Zhukov. Making the worldwide entity that now is Apple work as well or better than their peers is what he was hired to do. He did it so well that Job considered him 1st choice to carry on running the company. ‘Nuff said. 🙂
=) i don’t think, mostly, i just type. =)
“Apple is now a lifestyle and not a computer-tech company.” yikes. i’m a bit more mac than apple, i’d say. its kinda like going to burning man now — why? to prove how you “think different” because you now make that a part of your trained responses because of all those behavior modification (or “sensitivity trainings”) you received from your human resources division because it gave you an hour or two outside your cubicle with the hotties from the 3rd floor? lol. a lifestyle implies a wholistic system of living — they’d do well to integrate #DavosPlanB before “Apple” deserves that designation in a truly positive light.
What do you mean when you say ‘PayPal will come to its own destiny’?
What I mean is that they have an opportunity to become more relevant or just whither away. I think it all depend on their own capabilities and how quickly they move and what moves they make. I personally think they have been lagging a sense of urgency.
Apple differentiating itself based on security is very interesting. Google can’t forgo all that user data without hurting their advertising model.
Comments are closed.