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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ovum's Commnets: Apple’s iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

Comments from Paul Jackson, Practice Lead, Media and Entertainment

The Good:

As expected the Apple Watch has a lovely design, and I like that they’ve thought of the screen obscuring issues that touch presents on such a small screen – hence the ‘crown’ controls. Features like sapphire screen, built-in heart-rate monitor and haptic feedback show an unusual level of technology leadership from Apple – who usually let others try and fail first. The charging solution is elegant and that crystal on the back is reminiscent of quality traditional pocket watches.

The interchangeable straps options and multiple cases and sizes also shows they have thought more about the fashion and jewellery elements compared to their competitors. This watch, along with the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R finally offer something non-techies might consider wearing. Digital Touch is reminiscent of Nintendo Pictochat with added heartbeat monitor – and is just as likely to be used once and then never again. The health and fitness apps look nice, but don’t improve significantly on other existing (and cheaper) solutions for those with more than a passing interest – it will thrive though if the various major players (Nike, Fitbit, Garmin) get behind the apps ecosystem



The bad:

“Well, obviously the price (and remember that is ‘starting from’ and you’re also going to need an iPhone) and that vague, distant release date. Expect to see the top end Watches top $500.” “Also, aside from an ‘all-day’ quip by Tim Cook there was no word on battery life – given similar watches with fewer capabilities are tapping out at 12hrs, it’s unlikely the Apple Watch will do much better. The form factor and nature of today’s chipsets (many still designed with Smartphones in mind) simply can’t accommodate larger capacity batteries and more measured performance. This is still the major deal breaker for mass adoption – sure tech firms have trained us to charge our phones every day, but devices like watches, fit bands, glasses etc need multi-day capacities. “Disappointing after all the talk of personal devices, freedom and flexibility than an iPhone is needed to make it work. Wasn’t expecting full phone functionality (a la Samsung Galaxy Gear S), but something that would work as a stand-alone at least some of the time would have been a nice option (this may still be the case of course when we get more details).”

Overall:

Aside from nice looking devices (which we’re finally getting after 18 months of false starts), smartwatches will really make their mark when they prove to be genuinely useful – Siri and Google are now the current embodiments of this. Adding functionality that would be just too tiresome to use the smartphone for (especially if typing in queries).

Even mapping and directions make more sense on a watch than all those annoying people who walk along the street looking at directions on their phone. WatchKit (the Apple developer tool) is a key element here too – who knows what useful applications 3rd party developers will come up with (when enough people have bought the device to make it worthwhile). If you can also replace your FitBit or Jawbone Up that’s another step towards justifying the cost. The four smart watches we’re seen announced over the past few weeks (Samsung Galaxy S, Apple Watch, Moto 360, LG G Watch R) real represent an optimistic second wave of devices that, while still flawed (battery life, size, need for paired phones), point to a genuinely useful category of devices emerging over the next 18 months.

Other Comments:

“Today’s Apple announcement is great news for network operators as it raises to new heights public interest in the latest mobile technology, which now includes Apple’s connected watch that will create more buzz around this to-date niche part of the market. Viewed together, the devices represent a step-change in how mobile consumers’ will be connected to the Internet." - Paul Lambert, Senior Analyst, Operator Strategy

“Apple reckons its new Apple Pay service will be the one that makes traditional wallets a thing of the past. Rhetoric to this effect is nothing new in the m-payments space but so far it has left consumers cold. But if anyone can help make this happen then it is probably Apple, although it will need strong partnerships. NFC, as we expected, is the key enabling technology for mobile proximity payments but TouchID biometrics are also in the equation for authentication and Apple Pay looks set to be integrated with Passbook, which is a natural fit. But it’s not all about proximity payments – Apple is also set to enable online checkouts without having to enter card details. This should get PayPal and other online payment providers a little worried, particularly as Apple already has 800 million iTunes accounts on file." - Eden Zoller, Principal Analyst, Consumer

"The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus boast of a more efficient and faster phone with a larger screen size, superior camera and improved battery life as key improvements over its predecessors. The larger screen size is a calculated move as demand for smartphones with larger screens is growing especially in Asia. While the M8 chip allows the handset to accurately gauge distance, elevation and speed to create a more relevant fitness services for the user." - Neha Dharia, Senior Analyst, Consumer Services

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