The Apple announcement(s) last week were no more than various incremental hardware upgrades – or were they?
Taken together the new Apple TV (now with apps, a new remote control and Siri) the 6s and 6s + and the new iPad pro – represent a firm move to making Apple and iOS more of a life-long companion, solidifying its own ecosystem around apps, interoperability, enterprise and devices.
We asked MEF members and the wider mobile community for their thoughts on how and if Apple is drawing new battle lines in its march toward iOS everywhere. Here’s what they said.
Chief Product Officer
Ed Smith, Chief Product Officer at Humley
Managing Director / Consultant
Roy Vella, Managing Director / Consultant, Vella Ventures
Apple wants to be sure that they have something for every screen of their customers (note: not everyone!) : the one in your living room, the one on your desk, the one in your hand, the one on your wrist and so on. All of which are entry points to Apple’s services as they are in the unique position to control a hardware and software ecosystem. Which, of course, continues to drive demand for ever more powerful Apple devices.
In an affluent “Apple family”, iOS most certainly will pervade their digital experiences… that is, Apple have positioned themselves as an “all-in” play where seamless integration is about having Apple present everywhere you’d want it because when you do, it just works. But not for everyone, that’s not their strategy… 10-15% penetration at the top end of the market is their objective. It’s quite clearly a “we’ll take the cream and you can have the milk” approach to consumer electronics of all sorts. As such, I highly doubt that Apple will ever have more than a minority share of the set-top box market. Of course, as a minority handset player, they make more revenue than the entire PC industry combined! In an “Apple family”, the Apple TV will be essential (if not already) and will likely be the priciest version of a set top box that you’ll see.
Some have wondered is the iPad Pro will stop the sales slump for iPad but I believe that’s doubtful… it’s addressing a different market. The iPad Pro is precisely what it says on the tin: for professionals. In fact, much of this round of announcements was about Apple finally taking the enterprise/corporate market seriously. The iPad Pro is large, expensive and powerful tablet and a key hardware component of the company’s broader strategy to make gains in the enterprise technology market. They’ve already signed partnerships with big firms like IBM and Cisco, in an attempt to get businesses to embrace iOS over Windows. Again, the affluent ones will, certainly.
Aftab Malhotra Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer, GrowthEnabler Global
TV is waiting to be disrupted. Apple TV has been a simple and powerful product that consumers have loved. The new announcement and innovation of Apple TV – as being the single point of entry into the TV UX – has the potential to be a disruptor for sure. Apple won’t win them all, but if they add a high quality set of third party apps to their current library – that the market needs and desires – then they could be a real force to reckon with.
IoT will dominate our lives through billions of sensors and devices that will have a major impact on the way we live our lives. Convenience. The need for speed, accessibility and instantcy will rise exponentially. Siri has the power to fulfil this impeding change in human behaviour by offering a human like communicator ‘voice’ that will make it easier for us to get things done faster, with better outcomes.
Head of Product Marketing
Kevin Lindsay, Head of Product Marketing, Adobe Target
Wednesday’s Apple event signalled a big movement towards a true explosion of omnichannel media. So now it’s time for marketers to follow suit, because, like it or not, when Apple reinvents and reimagines, we have to understand where the industry is heading. We have to understand the big shifts coming our way, even if they’re still lurking below the consumer surface. Most importantly, we have to understand how brands can align and shine in a way that’s authentic, organic and customer-centric.
The big news for marketers was that Apple TV will now have a dedicated app store. This means you could order takeaway on your TV between shows. Siri could share real-time updates to your social platforms. You could even text a friend to turn on their TV! This signals a move towards couch commerce as many brands need to consider how their multi-tasking and highly-engaged audience can engage with your brand while watching TV. This means thinking about the shopping, sharing and social content consumption and how these experiences could be streamlined for Apple TV.
Head of Mobile EMEA
Ben Rickard, Head of Mobile EMEA – MEC
With its new TV offering, Apple is making another play for the living room and becoming a threat to the traditional games consoles. With mobile games on an incredible rise and with declining console unit sales, it’s not hard to envisage a world where games reside within the same consumer ecosystem as everything else, e.g. Apple and Google. In fact, Apple is already allowing developers to extend their mobile games to TV and enable the stop-start action between TV, iPhone and iPad.
Retail brands will now be able to take their apps to a large screen, enabling a full lean back sofa experience. The demos at the event showed the advantage of curating retail experiences in apps, and Apple clearly believes that this provides the very best experience whatever the screen.
Tad Johnson, Commercial Marketing Manager, JAMF Software
Apple’s unveiling of the iPad Pro, which has been earmarked as the tablet for businesses, not only reaffirms Apple’s game-changing innovation but also hints to its rapid and growing strength in the enterprise market. Businesses are increasingly adopting the devices that their employees and executives are most comfortable in using and this new tablet has features and functions that make it perfect for productivity and creativity: a larger screen, slimmer and with longer battery power.
For optimum productivity, businesses will need to work closely with their IT departments to carefully manage these devices once they enter the enterprise to ensure its users gain the best experience in a secure fashion. Furthermore, businesses will need to understand and address the individual preferences of the user as they move between home and the office to reap the benefits of these devices. This is where a secure device management and scalable rollout strategy will be crucial in supporting businesses and in making the transition of Apple into the enterprise a smooth process.
Sriram Ramanathan, CTO at Kony
The introduction of the iPad Pro is confirmation of Apple’s strategy to target the enterprise. What further proof do you need than the company’s enlisting of app support from Microsoft and Adobe? At this point, Apple and Microsoft have reversed positions. Since the first generation Surface was introduced in 2012, Apple is clearly late to the party. Further, Apple has also let Microsoft gain very strong momentum with the recent release of Windows 10, which delivers a very enterprise-friendly tablet solution.
Overall, this also puts a nail in the coffin of the Mac Book Air. Between the new MacBook, the MacBook Pro and now the iPad Pro, Apple is now making a concerted effort to target the full spectrum of both enterprise and consumer users.
Matthew Hunt, CEO, Apadmi Enterprise
When Apple announced the launch of its first ever iPhone, I remember the general feeling across the industry was “what did Apple know about making phones and the smartphone industry? They make computers.” Fast forward to today and the entire industry was proven wrong – by a long way. For this reason, I always treat Apple announcements based on that experience. Who are we to doubt their ability to break into new markets and ‘reimagine’ an existing experience such as how we engage with the TV? Saying that, I do think it’s becoming harder as others follow the ‘Apple way’, not least by competing to provide the best user experience possible.
It has been widely reported that Apple has sold fewer iPads in the last year. Despite this, it is still the most successful tablet on the market. It’s not just a bigger screen that will attract attention – I think the introduction of the ‘Pencil’, the keyboard and split screen modes make it instantly more appealing to those looking to move to a tablet as a primary device. For example, I believe it has the potential for wide adoption for note taking and design-based roles. I do, however, think that some of the Apps need to catch up to offer variants that support the new features, such as the Pencil, to make the most of the capabilities.
VP Media Solutions
Tim Gough, VP Media Solutions, dunnhumby
Apple’s desire to dominate every screen in your life – including those you don’t even currently own or realise you need – was confirmed at last week’s product unveiling.
Apple TV is perhaps the most exciting prospect, offering a huge improvement in the ability to search and curate video content quickly. Yet beyond playing games and shopping from home, it is unclear how Apple’s tvOS platform will prove that “the future of TV is apps” without further content deals. Access to live TV, in particular sports, was glossed over, so this will remain an OTT device until Apple takes on the telco and media companies that control TV content and its distribution.
Speaking of which, the most interesting iPhone development was the launch of the upgrade programme, which allows for device financing through Apple. Consumers can now have a more direct relationship with Apple, with the carrier’s role reduced to merely a mechanism for connectivity. It’s another sign of Apple’s mobile dominance, and with small but significant improvements to the iPhone line-up they will continue to dominate device sales, in the US at least.
The company’s software and app ecosystem is stronger than ever – it remains to be seen how it will use the expanding pool of consumer data it collects from its devices and software to personalise, monetise and drive better brand experiences for Apple and its partners.
VP & MD EMEA
Mark Armstrong, VP & MD, EMEA, Progress
The extension of Siri as a digital assistant to another, important, part of Apple’s ecosystem signals an ongoing industry trend. According to Gartner, mobile digital assistants will take on tactical mundane processes such as filling out names, addresses and credit card information by the year end of 2015. And, as Apple’s Siri and Google’s Cortana become more popular, they open up direct marketing opportunities and information engagement with users within their closed ecosystems – meaning they will both have enormous influence on user purchasing decisions.
Luckily, all businesses are able to seize on the benefits of advanced search and decision engines that comprise digital assistants to bring new and ultra-personalised services to market. Instead of building standalone apps and assistants with a limited scope, businesses will be able to collaborate with partners to deliver more useful services with greater relevancy. These apps might be used to offer exclusive offers to users. An example might be a ‘perfect night out’ app that could bring together restaurants, bars, cinemas and other entertainment options that would offer users suggestions of what to do next based on a user-created profile and location data.
These could be selected according to reviews and social media comments and integrated with other services such as OpenTable and Uber. To do this, they will need to be prepared to compile multiple and complex data streams from various businesses into one ecosystem, analyse and use the data in real time.