Apple Event September 2019

Background:
Apple mania is here again. As expected, Apple’s latest event saw the launch of a swathe of new iPhones, albeit missing a number of expected features. Alongside upgrades to iPhones, iPad and Apple Watch, Apple also confirmed details around AppleTV+ and Apple Arcade services.

Details and Implications:

Apple TV+: Apple streaming was announced in March but this week’s event revealed the details. Launching on November 1st in over 100 markets, Apple TV+ will cost $4.99 a month for a family membership – a much lower price point than competitor services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. Interestingly, but not hugely surprisingly, Apple will be giving anyone who buys any new hardware this year a free year’s subscription to the service.

Apple Arcade: Also announced in March this year. Apple used this week’s event to confirm launch dates and pricing of its cross-platform gaming service. Designed to go head to head with Google Stadia, Apple Arcade will launch on September 19th for $4.99 per month. The service will let 6 family members play ad free games across Macs, AppleTVs, iPads and iPhones. Launching with over 100 titles, Apple demoed titles unique to the platform, including a remake of classic Frogger.

iPhone: Apple announced the launch of its iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro (including the rather clumsily named iPhone 11 Pro Max). As ever with an upcoming launch from a major handset manufacturer rumour and “leaks” were rife, what has perhaps been most notable about the new iPhone is what wasn’t announced rather than what was. Apple didn’t include 5G, this is widely expected to be included in the 2020 models. Features that were expected but didn’t appear included two-way wireless charging, USB-C port, Apple Pencil support and a proprietary Apple tracking device similar to Tile.

Apple also announced the A13 bionic processor, which further pushes processing power, with Apple stating dominance over this year’s high-end Android handsets (claiming to maintain that position over next year’s models as well). Battery life has been improved by efficiency enhancements in the A13 processor – the iPhone 11 offers 1 hour over the XR and the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max offer 4 and 5 hours over their XS & XS Max predecessors. Aside from some nice, but subtle design changes (green iPhone Pro anyone?), camera system upgrades appear to be Apple’s big bet this year. A 2-lens system on the 11 and 3-lens system on the Pro models will deliver a greater range of options and much machine learning photo wizardry – including an enhanced night mode, designed to take on Samsung and Google phones. Apple also talked about Deep Fusion, where 9 images are taken (eight before the shutter is pressed), the A13 processor will then optimise each individual pixel to create one final exceptional quality image, but we will need to wait until the end of this year for that feature to roll out.

Other Hardware: Much like the iPhone updates, the new iPad and Watch felt like iterations rather than wholly new devices. A slightly larger screen and the inclusion of Apple smart connector for the iPad and an always-on display (without negative battery implications), new titanium and expensive ceramic case material and a compass for Apple Watch 5.

Summary:
Evolution rather than revolution in a slightly safe set of hardware launches supported by keenly priced entertainment and gaming solutions. Much of Apple’s share price relies on uptake of iPhone, but all eyes will be on the uptake of Apple TV+ to see if Apple has a service that can disrupt another market.

Further Reading:
Venture Beat | Computer World | Forbes | Apple Spring Event 2019