Apple’s Cook Hits It Out of the Park

Apple made its annual iPhone announcement Tuesday, and there were several surprises, including one of those Steve Jobs “one more thing” moments. Now the question is, will the two new iPhones, Apple Pay and Apple Watch be a home run?

Generally speaking, yes — but with some caveats.

The iPhone is coming in two new sizes. One is larger, meaning longer. The other is even larger, meaning even longer. The device itself is thinner, but the screen size is longer. That will help enlarge the images and text and make the iPhone easier to use.

Unfortunately, the iPhone is still not waterproof — nor is the screen tougher. That’s a potential problem, but it can be corrected next year.

The camera has been upgraded with several new features. However the device itself, except for the new size, it not really all that earth-shatteringly new.

Will that really matter for Apple growth? Nope. This will be a home run for Apple as it continues to grow. I don’t see anything that will keep any potential buyer from acquiring one.

A Solid Hit

iOS 8 will be ready for every iPhone owner to download soon. It will provide users with much of what Apple just introduced. Other features do need the new hardware, however. That means you’ll need to upgrade if you really want those features.

When current iPhone users upgrade is the only question. The early adopters will jump in right away. The rest will upgrade over the next year or so as their contract allows them to.

Other users simply will keep their existing iPhone. This iPhone is not much different from other iPhones. It will be a success for Apple, but it’s not a revolutionary new device.

This also means that all previous models will drop in price, making them more affordable to more users.

The new Apple Watch will be a hit for perhaps a third of Apple iPhone users. This is similar to the iPad. Some of the new features, like health apps, can be used with the Apple Watch. Note, it must be used with an iPhone in order to work. Maybe someday it will work on its own — but not yet.

New Highways and Byways

iPad sales should continue to slow, as many users will by a larger iPhone and carry one device instead of an iPhone and an iPad. The iPad will continue to be a player — just not a growing player, as many customers will just buy a larger iPhone instead.

Apple Pay is another great opportunity. Apple should grow in this space, and it will play an increasing role in its future.

This kind of payment system is not new, but it is new for Apple. It is still young, and it will grow — and Apple should do well with this.

Imagine walking into a store and buying things by pressing your finger on a button on your iPhone. It sounds like the Starbucks app. If it works well, users will start to try it. If there are no problems, they’ll use it more and more. I always expect a few early glitches with new products. We’ll see.

There is more, but you get the point. While this week’s event was not really about reinvention, it was incrementally better in many ways than other product launches in the recent past, and it does allow Apple entry into new markets.

Think of this as Apple paving new streets for users to drive on going forward. I am not sure how much this will help Apple grow in the short term, but it is a great long-term move for the company.

Cook Hits His Stride

Apple CEO Tim Cook did a great job this year. He really hit it out of the park. He has stumbled in the past, but he really seems to be getting his sea legs. He blended the best of the old and the new. He seems finally to be finding the captain’s chair more comfortable.

We have to consider what tomorrow will look like. Today we don’t leave our house without our keys, our wallet and our smartphone. Tomorrow we will just have to remember one thing — our smartphone.

It will open our doors and start our cars. It will have our electronic driver’s license, insurance information, pictures, and other things we stuff into a wallet. It will be able to buy things with credit cards assigned to it.

That is our future, and Apple wants to play an important role in making that future become a reality.

Of course, if we are going to trust this kind of device with all of those tasks, then it ought to be waterproof and shock-proof and have a stronger screen to say the least, right?

As for cannibalization, that will be a part of the story. Yes this new, larger iPhone will cannibalize sales of the iPad. However, it is much better that Apple cannibalize than let competitors take its customers, isn’t it?

The bottom line is that this week’s event was a big success for Tim Cook, for Apple, for its investors and partners, and for its loyal customers.

Carriers like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and Sprint will be winners with this news — as will every partner whose technology is connected to the iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple Pay.

So, congratulations to Apple and everyone the company touches. There is still plenty more to come — so stay tuned.

Jeff Kagan

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a technologyindustry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at [email protected].

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