Apple Keynote Notes

My notes from Apple’s keynote:

  • Development. The tech landscape saw this wearable device coming from a mile away. Over the past year, competitors have come out with their own watches, and in many cases, have already shown a few reiterations. I suspect Apple Watch development started in earnest back in 2011 with most features at least thought out by 2013 and everything largely set by early 2014. The growing phenomenon of people using the iPod nano as a watch in 2010 most likely got the ball rolling. Yes, that means Steve Jobs was around for at least the early watch discussions, although Tim Cook told ABC News that Apple Watch development began around late 2011/early 2012. 
  • AskTog. In early 2013, former Apple employee Bruce Tognazzini wrote what I term “the iWatch manifesto”, a highly detailed, yet supposedly hypothetical, wish list of what an Apple smartwatch could or should do. As I expected, most of his commentary turned out to be true and was announced today.  I suspect some of his points that were not released today will be included in future versions. One has to imagine competitors were aware of the article and knew most of the features announced today were coming.  
  • Hardware & Software. From a hardware perspective, the Apple Watch doesn’t strike me as overly magical (like the iPhone did). However, the software is differentiated from peers. 
  • Battery. People are worried about battery life. Apple didn’t say, but implied an Apple Watch battery will last roughly a day. I think a 12-14 battery life is probably the most likely answer and I don’t see much issue with such a span for a first release. I don’t wear a watch in bed now, so I think it would be common practice to charge your Apple Watch every night.  What does this mean for sleep tracking or those with extra long daily schedules? Maybe buying two watches is their answer. 
  • Use Case. Apple didn’t go into much detail about why someone should use an Apple Watch, instead demoing a few features that seemed cool or at least interesting. I think most of this is taken from the iPad playbook - show users various things you can do with the device and then step back and see what sticks.  At one point Apple even mentioned there is much more to say about the device, but there wasn’t enough time.  
  • Goal. Apple is going after the watch, not the smart watch. 
  • Competition.  I suspect Samsung (and many others) will come out with various watches that look very similar to Apple Watch in a few months (some larger or smaller than Apple Watch). 
  • Pricing. Apple said Apple Watch would start at $349.  I imagine some of the higher-end models will likely go for over $1000.  I would not be shocked if over time, you see Apple watches retail for thousands of dollars (a special Marc Newson $5000 edition anyone?). Of course, Apple will also work to lower the entry-level price to a more manageable $99 etc. 
  • Future. I see a world where the watch will eventually replace the phone.  We aren’t there yet, but I think it’s coming and most major tech players will have a wearable tech platform up and running by 2015-2016. 
  • Retail.  Apple will need to figure out a way to showcase dozens of Apple Watch variations in Apple stores, requiring a new way of thinking of wearable retail. Angela Ahrendts has her hands full. 
  • iPhone.  New models largely as expected. The iPhone 6 Plus (5.5-inch screen) seems a tad large, especially when compared to the iPhone 6 (4.7-inch screen). The gold version does not look as good with these larger phones. I suspect the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 silver will be a top seller.  These news phones will likely maintain Apple’s iPhone unit sales growth in 2015, especially from strong sales in Asia. 
  • Apple Pay. Apple introduced a mobile payments platform and while I am interested, I am a tad skeptical at how this is going to trend in real world implications. If I still need to carry credit cards because there are various retailers who don’t support Apple Pay, how effective is such a service? Certainly Apple Pay represents the strongest movement yet for the mobile payments arena, but for now I am taking a wait-and-see approach. 
  • U2. I still don’t quite understand the point of Apple subsidizing a U2 album.  I get that Apple wanted a musical act to close out the event, but U2? 
  • Summary. Apple did what it had to do to give Apple Watch a solid chance of succeeding. The hype for today’s event seemed higher than the initial iPad event and I think it’s clear Apple wanted people to know Apple Watch is a big deal and should garner the corresponding attention. For now, I think Apple early adopters will buy Apple Watch (5-8 million units), with a decent uptake in some market niches (another 5-10 million units). While some are expecting 60 million units sold in the first year, I am taking a more measured 2-3 year horizon before we see those kind of sales numbers. Ultimately, I think Apple has a winner with Apple Watch.