AUSTRALIA: Post the launch of the Apple iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, Ovum has some interesting takes.
Paul Lambert, senior analyst, Operator Strategy, says: “Today’s Apple announcement is great news for network operators as it raises to new heights public interest in the latest mobile technology, which now includes Apple’s connected watch that will create more buzz around this to-date niche part of the market. Viewed together, the devices represent a step-change in how mobile consumers’ will be connected to the Internet.
“Apple’s new devices offer operators a great opportunity to increase data usage and data revenues. Each of the new devices will lead to more cellular data use, which is also great news for operators – especially if they can price data services in ways that capture consumers’ imaginations. The iPhones support more 4G frequencies and also VoLTE, both of which are welcome additions for 4G operators and will boost global 4G uptake.
“Operators have seen that with each new iPhone consumers are willing to pay a premium to own the latest Apple device. With the new iPhones operators have fresh impetus to help them increase the amount their subscribers spend with them, and how long they stay with them. At the same time, operators can offer iPhone inventory at lower prices to increase ownership of premium smartphones among a broader range of prepaid and postpaid users.
“Crucially, with the new iPhone 6 devices, operators will need to continue to invest in their networks to ensure they offer robust Internet access that can cope with the increase in mobile data traffic the new devices will bring about.”
Eden Zoller, principal analyst, Consumer, notes: “Apple reckons its new Apple Pay service will be the one that makes traditional wallets a thing of the past. Rhetoric to this effect is nothing new in the m-payments space but so far it has left consumers cold. But if anyone can help make this happen then it is probably Apple, although it will need strong partnerships.
"NFC, as we expected, is the key enabling technology for mobile proximity payments but TouchID biometrics are also in the equation for authentication and Apple Pay looks set to be integrated with Passbook, which is a natural fit. But it’s not all about proximity payments – Apple is also set to enable online checkouts without having to enter card details. This should get PayPal and other online payment providers a little worried, particularly as Apple already has 800 million iTunes accounts on file.
“Ovum believes Apple will prove effective at marketing mobile payments to consumers, not as a technology but as something that will make paying for goods and services with your phone fast, easy and even fun. When Apple introduces cool features on the iPhone people tend to use them, which is critical for the future of NFC as an enabling technology. If consumers start using NFC for proximity payments then merchants will be more prepared to invest in it, a key factor that has held NFC back.
"Apple was at pains to stress the security of its new m-payment services, although we would have liked to have seen more concrete details on this front. But the fact that Apple is underscoring security from the start is important as concerns on this front are still the biggest show stoppers for consumers when it comes to m-payments.
“It looks like many in the ecosystem think Apple can make mobile payments fly as it has launched with the backing of major card schemes, a clutch of banks and big name retailers. This is a promising start although not everyone will be happy as the strengths of Apple Pay will make it highly disruptive for many existing digital wallet providers such as Google Wallet and those run by mobile operators, which in many markets are making slow progress.”
Paul Jackson, Practice lead, Media and Entertainment, adds the good, bad and overall takes.
The Good: As expected, the Apple Watch has a lovely design, and I like that they’ve thought of the screen obscuring issues that touch presents on such a small screen – hence the ‘crown’ controls. Features like sapphire screen, built-in heart-rate monitor and haptic feedback show an unusual level of technology leadership from Apple – who usually let others try and fail first. The charging solution is elegant and that crystal on the back is reminiscent of quality traditional pocket watches.
The interchangeable straps options and multiple cases and sizes also shows they have thought more about the fashion and jewellery elements compared to their competitors. This watch, along with the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R finally offer something non-techies might consider wearing.
Digital Touch is reminiscent of Nintendo Pictochat with added heartbeat monitor – and is just as likely to be used once and then never again.
The health and fitness apps look nice, but don’t improve significantly on other existing (and cheaper) solutions for those with more than a passing interest – it will thrive though if the various major players (Nike, Fitbit, Garmin) get behind the apps ecosystem
The bad: "Well, obviously the price (and remember that is ‘starting from’ and you’re also going to need an iPhone) and that vague, distant release date. Expect to see the top end Watches top $500.
"Also, aside from an ‘all-day’ quip by Tim Cook there was no word on battery life – given similar watches with fewer capabilities are tapping out at 12hrs, it’s unlikely the Apple Watch will do much better. The form factor and nature of today’s chipsets (many still designed with Smartphones in mind) simply can’t accommodate larger capacity batteries and more measured performance. This is still the major deal breaker for mass adoption – sure tech firms have trained us to charge our phones every day, but devices like watches, fit bands, glasses etc need multi-day capacities.
“Disappointing after all the talk of personal devices, freedom and flexibility than an iPhone is needed to make it work. Wasn’t expecting full phone functionality (a la Samsung Galaxy Gear S), but something that would work as a stand-alone at least some of the time would have been a nice option (this may still be the case of course when we get more details).”
Overall: Aside from nice looking devices (which we’re finally getting after 18 months of false starts), smartwatches will really make their mark when they prove to be genuinely useful – Siri and Google are now the current embodiments of this. Adding functionality that would be just too tiresome to use the smartphone for (especially if typing in queries).
Even mapping and directions make more sense on a watch than all those annoying people who walk along the street looking at directions on their phone. WatchKit (the Apple developer tool) is a key element here too – who knows what useful applications 3rd party developers will come up with (when enough people have bought the device to make it worthwhile). If you can also replace your FitBit or Jawbone Up that’s another step towards justifying the cost.
The four smart watches we’re seen announced over the past few weeks (Samsung Galaxy S, Apple Watch, Moto 360, LG G Watch R) real represent an optimistic second wave of devices that, while still flawed (battery life, size, need for paired phones), point to a genuinely useful category of devices emerging over the next 18 months.
Neha Dharia, senior analyst, Consumer Services, concludes: Apple’s Big Event resulted in the announcement of two new iPhones , the new Apple Pay payments platform and the eagerly awaited Apple Watch announcement. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus boast of a more efficient and faster phone with a larger screen size, superior camera and improved battery life as key improvements over its predecessors.
The larger screen size is a calculated move as demand for smartphones with larger screens is growing especially in Asia. While the M8 chip allows the handset to accurately gauge distance, elevation and speed to create a more relevant fitness services for the user. The much awaited Apple Watch did not disappoint. It is stylish and has a functional and easy to navigate user interface, but its true value will lie in the development of a strong app ecosystem around the device.
Apple has already got interesting applications from Starwood hotels and American Airlines, Ovum expects to see a lot more before its launch in 2015. Apple suggested a revolution in digital communications, with the ability to share doodles, animated emoji and even the heartbeat instantly to users. However, communication is a small part of the watch itself.
Ovum expects the device to cause disruptions in the healthcare, personal fitness, navigation and payments industry. However, next year will be crucial for Apple as developers get creative with the capabilities of the Apple Watch and begin to disrupt other industries. The success of the device is hinged on the range of apps and services that utilize its capabilities.