Every Apple launch since Steve Jobs passed, I have a moment where I miss the excitement. I recall one event Jobs had put on where I was walking out feeling that he’d announced something incredible only to sit down and realize I’d been fooled; there wasn’t anything special at that event at all. The guy could make the mundane seem magical and, when they had something interesting, like the iPod, or iPhone, it was particularly magical.
Sadly the magic is pretty much gone, but this doesn’t mean that some of what was announced wasn’t interesting. Other than Apple TV+, I don’t use Apple products myself because their strategy is clearly to milk as much money out of their customers as they possibly can, and, as a potential customer, I’m not a fan of that policy. But for those of you in that ecosystem, there were some nice improvements this time.
Tim Cook opened with Apple TV+, and for me, that service is worth it just for Ted Lasso. Still, I’m also looking forward to Foundation, and they have several other coming shows that indicate this service is becoming a viable power. It is still the second tier below Netflix and Amazon, but it appears to be doing well against the other second-tier providers like Disney+ and HBO+. It currently doesn’t require you to have an Apple TV box or any other Apple products though I wonder if they might change that policy in the future, given they are all about lock-in with most everything else. They’ve made impressive progress with this service, and I think it remains a project very well done.
At this event, the regular iPad was a yaun using their older processor but coming in with an aggressive entry price. In tablets in the 10” class, I still favor the Amazon Fire tablet. That tablet is a fraction of even the reduced iPad price, and I question why I’d need a 12MP camera on a tablet given you look pretty foolish, given you likely have a far better camera on your Smartphone for using it.
However, I was blown away by the iPad Mini though I wonder if the market will be willing to pay more for it than the much larger but far less attractive, full-sized iPad. I used to do a lot of pricing, and generally, if a product is smaller, people expect to pay less for it, but, I have to admit, the extra for the Mini may be worth it. Given this is a 5G offering, this could be a large iPhone if it had the phone application but, because Apple would likely buy both, it doesn’t, so this represents my only negative on the product. Given its size, features, and price, it could have integrated the phone functionality with almost no additional cost to Apple. The Mini is one of the most attractive products Apple has so far produced; it has a new Liquid Retina Display that looks awesome, 500 nits of brightness for outdoor use, their top of the line CPU and GPU (40% and 80% performance boosts respectively), and 12 MP cameras front and back with integration to their Center Stage app. Starting at $499, it isn’t cheap, but I think it is worth the money.
Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch remains the best Smartwatch in the market in terms of features and capabilities. I wear an Android watch myself mainly because the Apple Watch won’t work with an Android phone but, if it did, I’d buy one in a hot minute. This latest watch has a bigger and 80% brighter screen. Eighteen hours of battery life will arrive with new fitness apps that should also work with older watches. Was I an Apple Watch user, the battery life and screen improvements would likely justify my replacing an older generation watch. I even like the new blue color.
iPhone 13 and Pro
There are two things about the iPhone 13 that might make it worth getting for any iPhone user: the 800 nits outdoor brightness (1,000 nits for the Pro), their new A15 processor for performance, and the improved battery life. They significantly improved the camera, but we are now in an area and price range where I’d just as soon have a dedicated camera if I want that kind of performance. These improvements wouldn’t be enough for me to move from an iPhone 12, but for someone on an iPhone 11 or older, this is enough of an upgrade to consider a new phone. The Pro starts just under a grand, and the Pro Max is just under $1,100, which is a lot, but you can get a discount if you trade in your older phone (an old iPhone 12 takes up to $530 – iPhone 11 $340 off the price, making the net price far more reasonable). It isn’t a bad value with a trade-in, though they still charge way too much for more memory ($300 to go from 128GB to 512GB).
Wrapping Up: One More Thing
I do miss the One More Thing aspect of an Apple event, which was the dessert for me at the end of the meal. Overall the event was nicely staged, well-orchestrated, and Tim Cook was articulate, well-rehearsed, and professional. He isn’t a very charismatic speaker, but most CEOs aren’t, and comparing anyone to Steve Jobs is unfair to the other person. The most improved products, from my perspective, were the iPod Mini and the new Apple Watch 7. I’m tempted by the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max but think they were overshadowed, unless you are really into Smartphone photography, by those other products.
Overall this was a well-done announcement with decent content. It was nicely done! I just can’t help but miss the old excitement.