Can Cook Stir Up That Old Black Magic?

Tim Cook
Apple has succeeded -- as usual -- in drumming up feverish excitement over its product announcements slated for Tuesday, but there's a certain amount of apprehension that the event could disappoint. Maybe that's because the company is a little off balance from its leaky iCloud debacle. Maybe there's worry that its iWatch won't be a stunner. Or maybe it's just that Tim Cook lacks charisma.

Excitement is mounting as the countdown to Apple’s mysterious Tuesday event ticks away.

Apple is widely expected to unveil two new iPhones — one in the usual smartphone form factor and the other a phablet. There’s also a good deal of anticipation for an iWatch that will kick the sector into high gear.

It appears Apple is gunning for stylish wearables, much as Intel is doing, reportedly having invited top editors and bloggers in the fashion industry to the do.

Some expect Apple to go full blast into the healthcare industry.

It’s believed Apple finally will incorporate NFC.

That Sentimental Fellow With the Mellow Jell-O

The key question, however, is this: Can Apple CEO Tim Cook come up with a whiz-bang product that evokes gasps not only from Apple faithful and investors, but also — heck, why not? — the world? Can he impress like the late Steve Jobs did? Or will he just offer the high-tech equivalent of blancmange?

Cook, like Jobs, wears black day in and day out. However, his style is to be restrained and low-key, unlike Jobs, who was famous for his vision, insight, tantrums — and oh yes, salesmanship.

“One of the reasons [Cook] gets labeled as a bean counter is because Apple’s products have changed so little in physical design,” said Nick Spencer, a senior practice director at ABI Research.

While the software updates collectively have been “quite significant,” the hardware “has been following rather than setting the agenda, often resisting overwhelming trends like screen size,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

A new phone ID and premium materials are crucial to “get rid of the impression that Apple have been sweating their products, brand and, therefore, customers as much as possible,” Spencer said.

Cook also will need to demonstrate experiences that show why Apple’s overall approach to design and ease of use is above the competition’s and “delights its large core customer base,” Danielle Levitas, a group vice president at IDC, told the E-Commerce Times.

What Apple’s Likely to Offer

The consensus is that Apple will unveil an iPhone with a 4.7-inch screen.

It also is expected to introduce an iPhone with a 5.5-inch screen, which “will resonate well, even more in [the Asia-Pacific] where large screen phones have been in highest demand,” Levitas said.

iOS 8 and NFC or mobile payments integrated into the new iPhone are pretty much shoo-ins, making the next iPhone a sure-fire winner, predicted Todd Day, a senior industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

“With the incorporation of payment plans on new smartphones by all carriers, the iPhone 6 could see higher sales in the first three months of its release than any [previous] iPhone release,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Apple probably will promote HealthKit and the related APIs, IDC’s Levitas suggested.

There’s a strong expectation that Apple finally will present an iWatch or some type of wrist wearable as well.

It “makes perfect sense, given Apple’s design prowess and their hiring of various fashion-related talent, that any wearable be designed in a way that connects even more emotionally for the owner,” Levitas said.

Health Is Wealth

The wearable technology market will grow from US$14 billion this year to more than $70 billion in 2024, and the healthcare sector, which merges medical, fitness and wellness, will remain dominant, IDTechEx predicted.

The recent iCloud breach might not impede Apple’s move into healthcare.

“Come noon tomorrow, most people who have an Apple device will be salivating for the new one and will have all but forgotten the celeb photo breach,” Levitas suggested. “Apple just needs to make sure they do a better job than most in security.”

Apple’s healthcare push “would be a significant boost for innovation and creativity,” Frost’s Day said. “In a rapidly changing era of healthcare and technology, Apple’s added functionality relating to healthcare will provide developers and innovators the extra tools they need to expand current … capabilities.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

Related Stories

E-Commerce Times Channels