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September 11, 2014

Apple’s New Focus and How it Impacts Your Business

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Apple made their big announcement this week that they are releasing two new phone models and a smartwatch.  Apple loyalists are quick to praise every decision and announcement coming out of Cupertino, but to me, this keynote highlights the fact that Apple is now more focused on making their products fit into the marketplace rather than producing radical innovations as they did under Steve Jobs. In this post, I take a look at the new hardware and technology introduced by Apple and what it means for the mobile marketing environment.

A Larger iPhone

As competition created bigger and bigger Android phones, Apple has always defended the size of their phones as intentional.  They cited the ability to access the entire screen with one hand.  It’s now clear that they have succumbed to the pressure of the marketplace and completely abandoned the screen size that they’ve used for 6 years.  By the end of this month, the starting screen size for an iPhone (the iPhone 6) will be 4.7 inches which matches popular Android offerings like the Moto X and HTC One.  The other option is a 5.5 inch screen which is clearly an attempt to attract the growing user base of Samsung’s Galaxy line.

Apple’s Use of NFC Technology

Another big announcement was the addition of near field communication (NFC) technology in the phone which allows for mobile payments.  Once again, this has been around in the Android marketplace for years but Apple is pushing hard for user adoption by partnering with a lot of major brands to use their payment service.  In this case, we’re seeing Apple use their size and influence to push a technology rather than create a technology which could be a shrewd move.  Google and others have not been able to do much with NFC and Apple has an opportunity to take over this market.

The Apple Watch

For their “One more thing” moment, Apple introduced the Apple Watch.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting their watch announcement since I am a watch aficionado.  Personally, I’m not excited by the looks of the device.  Square watches just don’t quite look right in my opinion and this option has too many rounded edges.   If you are going to go rectangular, let the thing have some angles on it.  I do like the use of the crown as a control option.  Functionally, it seems to be a conglomeration of all the smartwatch functions that have been released to date.  Nothing groundbreaking but they have covered their bases.  Unfortunately, for $350 and having to wait until spring to get one, I’m skeptical that I will purchase one of these.  Watches like the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R just look so much better and fit in more with my perception of a watch as a fashion accessory.

What does the Apple announcement mean for your business?

A big portion of Apple’s keynote was devoted to iOS 8, Apple’s new mobile operating system.  Once again, nothing groundbreaking, but a lot of improvements.  The biggest update is probably the addition of Healthkit which is an API that allows health data to be securely transferred to and from the device.  This could have a big impact on the health services industry and anyone wishing to include health information in an app.  Most of the other improvements focus on better integrations with Apple’s ecosystem which is great but not that exciting if you are a windows user.

Anyone with an iOS application or developing an iOS application needs to pay attention to the new screen sizes to make sure their apps are functional at the very least.  The new hardware options like the watch and NFC allow for completely new functionality that should be considered if they can provide a valuable experience for your users. (See this post from my colleague Daniel Marcus on “4 Critical Rules for Keeping Mobile Apps Up-to-Date).

In my opinion, Apple has become less of a technology innovator and more of a technology improver. They have the best music marketplace, the best app marketplace, and they look to be making a strong push into the mobile payment space so I wouldn’t count them out of anything.  Besides, how much innovation can be done to slab of touch sensitive glass?  They already invented the smartphone as we know it. The next innovation should come from somewhere else.

About John Proctor

John Proctor is a Senior Solutions Consultant with Atlantic BT.  John helps companies develop strategies that leverage Atlantic BT’s expertise in web and mobile applications.  Keeping up with the latest technologies helps provide our clients with best possible solutions for their needs.  Outside of Atlantic BT, John is a gamer, mountain biker, sports fan, tech geek, and father.

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