Apple Pops and Peeks
Two months ago to the day, Apple hosted their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), focusing on software for the developer community. Yesterday, Apple hosted their September “Apple Event”, focusing on new Apple products for consumers. Like all Apple events, news media and consumers all tune in simultaneously, creating a heighted level of excitement and intrigue pre-event. Below is a look at the three themes that we captured around Product, Partners, and Play - and how all of these will help benefit consumers.
In the past, the star of Apple Events has always been the iPhone. The iPhone is the remote control to life for many people, and yesterday it was revealed that the iPhone 6 is the most popular Apple iPhone ever. The larger screen size for Apple is obviously paying off as the iPhone grew 3.5X faster than the smartphone industry. In particular, it’s driving significant growth in China, where Apple saw 75% smartphone growth versus the industry.
Beginning on September 12, consumers can pre-order the new iPhone 6S and iPhone6S Plus with 3D touch technology that adds a new level of sensorial experience to the device. Consumers can now press down on their screens and based on force, create new experiences and bring up more information from the specific piece of content that they’re pressing on. It’s a new way for people to interact with content on their phone. For example, you can hold down a text message within your iMessage and information about that text string will pop up over the text. In the past, this element would have taken you directly to the full text, but now it just appears over the screen. From a marketing perspective, this new feature can allow for deeper brand engagement with creative and keep consumers within the ad experience, highlighting product attributes and commerce functionality.
Apple also is releasing the Apple Pencil, which will be available with the iPad and iPad Pro (which has a larger display, with faster, and better image quality). With Apple Pencil you now have a stylus – a feature that has previously been popular with other companies who deploy larger touch screen formats.
From a product POV, Apple Watch will also have new bands to select from and an updated WatchOS2. WatchOs2 will allow app developers to tap into the watch's sensors and data directly by running natively on the watch. There are currently more than 10,000 watch apps, and with these new native watch capabilities, developers won’t be tied into launching an iPhone app first.
Although the iPhone is typically the event’s star, yesterday it was upstaged by Apple TV. Apple will open up to third party developers through their new tvOS, creating new viewing experiences, siri integration capabilities, and user interfaces. In fact, Apple TV will change the way consumers game. When Apple first launch the App Store in 2008, the most popular downloaded apps were games – and that continues to this day. Games helped revolutionize the mobile experience and drive sales. Now with Apple TV and new gaming capabilities, this is a pathway to increased sales and new consumer experiences.
Throughout the presentation, Apple brought in partners to showcase how they’re creating products that benefit consumers. For example, Microsoft (take a moment to appreciate that irony for a second) was onstage with Apple to show how the Apple Pencil will work with the Microsoft Office for iPad. Major League Baseball was also onstage to show how consumers can engage with their MLB TV app, bringing new game experiences and access directly from your TV. Clothing website Guilt highlighted how you can shop directly from your Apple TV within the Guilt app - something that was previously reserved for tablets and smartphones. Although there are currently existing apps from other manufactures for Internet-connected TVs, the launch of a new tvOS operating system and the ability for developers to create new apps for the centerpiece of your living room, has the potential to be particularly transformational .
Apple TV comes with new hardware, a remote control that acts like Nintendo Wii, and Siri voice commands. It will also come with Beat Sports - a collection of music-themed sports mini-games that consumers can play with the Apple TV remote control. The game is developed by Harmonix (the creators of Rock Band). Through tvOS, game developers will have the ability to create TV-specific games that can be as exciting as their popular applications. For example, Hipster Whale, the independent game studio that has had a lot of success with Crossy Road (if you haven’t played it, think of Frogger), showcased their game for Apple TV and the multiplayer functionality it has. Now with additional third-party applications being deployed, and a new gaming canvas to paint with, consumers will have more reasons to purchase an Apple TV.
As Apple drives more consumers into app environments across screens (in general, 86% of all consumer time is spent in app) and now TV, new brand experiences can be developed to engage and drive brand KPIs. We predict that the popularity of gaming consoles, now being deployed in a casual way, will be a powerful form of entertainment for consumers and an easier way for brands to engage in this space (as they already do within mobile games).
One note: Apple did not mention Ad Blocking in yesterday’s event. We will be sharing a separate POV on that shortly.