Event Report: Inside The Apple #SpringForward Event

Apple Event Announcements Shows Continued Progression In The Digital Lifestyle

The Spring Forward Apple event at Yuerba Buena gardens brought forth a slew of major announcements that pointed to the continued build out of the Steve Jobs "Star Trek" road map.
Figure 1. Tim Cook welcomes the crowd at the #SpringForward event

@apple @tim_cook #appleevent

The analysis of key announcements include:

  • Growth in Apple Stores in China .  The event kicked off with a touching video of the latest Apple store opening in China.  The Hangzhou West Lake store is the 18th in China and strategically located in one of the hottest shopping areas.   Tim Cook emphasized the commitment to adding more stores in China.

    Point of View (POV):
    Apple's aggressive move to build out China makes perfect sense in not only combating the piracy of fake Apple stores, but also creating an opportunity to build a direct customer experience with the fastest growing global market.   In a conversation with someone familiar with Apple's privacy efforts, there may be thousands of workers who believe they work at an Apple store but in fact do not.  The real Apple stores will most definitely help combat the fake ones.  Moreover, Apple is under-represented in coverage in the number of stores per potential buyer.
  • HBO distribution agreement with Apple TV. One of the surprises was the HBO Now limited exclusive arrangement with Apple.   The service is set to be offered at  $15 per month.  In addition, Apple announced a price cut on Apple TV to $69 per box.

    Just in time for Game of Thrones, the direct to consumer streaming video service showed how the content producers intend to by pass the middlemen.  Constellation expects other direct digital distribution deals to emerge.  However, the market can expect more blurring between technology providers, content producers, and distribution networks.  As for Apple TV, expect a new one to replace the outdated 2012 technology.  Reliable sources predict the announcement as early as the Worldwide Developers conference in June.
  • New Retina Macbook. The new device sports a two pound design point, 13.1 mm thickness, Intel Core-M processor, fan-less design, all day battery, new butterfly keyboard, Force Touch trackpad, and USB Type C port.  Available for sale April 10th, the Retina Macbook will come in three colors: gold, silver, and space gray.

    The first impression of the new Macbook was the weight. At half a pound heavier than an iPad 3, the device seemed light as a feather. Typing on the new Macbook  keyboard quickly brought back memories of a great IBM Selectric feel.  The specialized butterfly mechanism which replaced the old scissor keyboard produced a pleasurable sensory experience.  Despite the slower clock speed at 1.1 GHz to 1.3GHZ, the device serves its purpose as a light-weight easy to use laptop .
  • Apple Research Kit.  The new open source software framework helps researchers create apps that collect data for medical research while enabling opt in permissions on sharing that data with privacy controls in tact.  Five apps available include Asthma Health by Mount Sinai - Download, GlucoSuccess - Download, MyHeart Counts - Download, Parkinson mPower - Download, and Share the Journey - Download

    The move to create Research Kit provides a complement to Health Kit.  Even those who use Android devices can utilize the framework.  Researchers now have a platform to address the two biggest issues - low sample sizes and poor normalization of data collection.  Partnerships with global research institutions help cement the role Apple has in serving as a catalyst and nexus for medical research.
  • Apple Watch. The much anticipated event was the launch of Apple's newest product line.  The watch is available in three tiers Apple Watch Sport ($349 to $399),  Apple Watch ($549 to $1100) and Apple Watch Edition ($10,000 to $17,000).  As the first smart watch to use Apple Pay, users can use NFC for payments.  The watch also sports a haptic feedback interface (Taptic Engine), digital touch direct communication, and magnetic charging cable.  A key use will be fitness apps which tack into the accelerometer, heart rate, and estimated calorie burn.

    Despite the slew of smart watch announcements at Mobile World Congress, few consumers and industry watchers showed interest in competitors ahead of the Apple Watch launch.  Digital Touch provided both an intuitive and unique user experience.  The ability to rapidly share was the key feature.  A key area to watch will be how quickly developers rush to provide new apps and build out this new platform.  After year's of not wearing a watch, will this be the catalyst to drive watch adoption?  This remains a wait and see.


Figure 2. The Scene From the #AppleEvent at Yuerba Buena Gardens

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The Bottom Line: Choosing What Not To Do Remains Apple's Core Strategy

Given the massive resources Apple has at its disposal, including almost $180B, and a massive patent trove, Apple's shown great discipline in the core tenant of strategy - deciding what not to do.  Apple has successfully expanded its networked economy that spans content, technology enablement, and direct to consumer distribution.  Building on a trusted platform, the advancements in continuity of experience, digital life style services based on trusted identity, and a value exchange system rivaled to none, show how the Apple strategy is paying off for not only consumers, but also those who expect the art of the possible to come to life.

Your POV.

Ready for a watch from Apple, research kit, and the new Macbook?  Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationR (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org.

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