Increments! Increments! increments?
Apple unveiled two updated iPads, the iPad and the iPad mini, with the former being positioned as the entry-level product and the latter as the mid-tier iPad (arguably, more desirable than the iPad Air given the addition of Apple’s A15 Bionic processor and a 5G antenna). On that note, the iPad mini could potentially be positioned as an iPhone alternative in some markets given the cellular connectivity and smaller form factor, becoming the missing link between iPhone and iPad. The iPad mini is offered at a starting price of $649 and the new iPad is offered at a starting price of $429; with some additional discounts for the Education market, which became a very important battleground between iOS/iPadOS/MacOS and Google Chrome in the last year given the need for remote schooling. It is also worth mentioning that the iPad mini now uses a USB-C port, a refreshing move that signals some alignment with the rest of the industry.
The Canadian market is not the most dynamic, to say the least, but the continued investment from Apple in that segment is purposeful; IDC's Canadian Mobile Consumer and Connected Life data shows that 71% of Canadian consumers using multiple technology brands and platforms (those using devices from Google and Apple and Microsoft for instance) are using an iPad as their primary tablet I.e. the iPad remains a gateway to the Apple ecosystem.
Another “S” Year for the iPhone Category?
At the event, Apple also unveiled the new iPhones series, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, with the tagline “Oh. So. Pro.”. For those of you following Apple, you will already know that this is an “S” year. A year wherein new product design and features in the iPhone product portfolio are incremental and not fundamental, and it showed.
Both new iPhones are using Apple’s A15 Bionic processor and are 5G capable. As a side note, it is somewhat refreshing to see a vendor not use 5G as a feature, but rather as an enabler of experiences. The main differentiator between the two (ignoring the larger screen in the iPhone 13 Pro Max) is the camera module. The iPhone 13 includes a 2 lenses system while the iPhone 13 Pro includes a Telephoto module used to boost the optical zoom range capabilities from 2X to 6X. Apple also believes that only the “pros” would benefit from a LiDAR Scanner and 1TB of onboard storage.
The iPhone 13 series is offered at a starting price of $949 for the 13 Mini while the iPhone 13 Pro series at $1399. The most expensive iPhone in Canada is now the iPhone 13 Pro Max with 1TB of storage (I chose gold as the color option because it looks more expensive) and will be sold for $2,229. The iPhone already holds 55% of the shipment share in the Canadian market in Q2 2021 (according to the most recent IDC Worlwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker data) and given the exit of LG and Huawei from the Canadian market, this new lineup, while not revolutionary, will assist Apple in maintaining its dominance of the market.
What’s New for Apple Watch and Apple Fitness+?
In between those two product introductions, Apple also announced its Apple Watch Series 7, featuring a larger display (or rather smaller borders given that Apple appears to be satisfied with the physical size of its Apple Watch). The smaller borders allow for some UI improvements, most notably by the addition of a full keyboard (on the topic of which Apple is facing a lawsuit claiming anti-competitive behaviors). Apple also included a 50% thicker front crystal (compared to Apple Watch Series 6) making the new device apparently more durable; the video introductions featured multiple bike falls so it is fair to assume that the new Apple Watch Series 7 would survive such crashes with its new crystal.
Apple also introduced features and functionality to its Apple Fitness+ platform, further integrating it into its Apple Watch platform (“the first fitness service powered by Apple Watch”). The service now offers Pilates and Guided Meditation, as well as Group Workouts allowing users to invite up to 32 of their fitness buddies to…workout together! In our opinion, Group Workouts might be the most important announcement for Apple it encompasses all that is Apple by using Apple Watch as the primary sensor, the iPhone/iPad /Apple TV as a means to watch (ignoring AirPlay on other platforms as a solution), and Apple’s platform through SharePlay to enable group watching/sweating, not to mention, Apple’s own production for the workouts themselves. This new feature set and functionality truly showcase Apple’s vision and its ability, unlike any other vendor, to control its user’s experiences from end-to-end.
A Few Last Words
We understand that this is an “S” year for Apple, an incremental year with small but significant improvements on its lineup, but I think it is also a transitional year for Apple, one where the focus is shifting away from pure hardware innovation to a larger ecosystem strategy. The emphasis on Fitness+ is brilliant, especially at the turn of the pandemic (raise your hand if you haven’t gained weight during this crisis) and positions Apple as a wholistic provider rather than just a 'hardware manufacturer who sells services' too.
I have been following Apple for a long time, and I will admit that this is the first time I was left underwhelmed by one of its product launches. Apple has never been shy in comparing its product with its competitors, but this time, I noticed that there was more comparison with its own products; perhaps a sign that Apple is now more than ever focused on its own vision; a focus that reminded me of Nokia a long time ago, a result of dominance and long-term vision.
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About the Author
Jean Philippe Bouchard, Vice-President, Future of Work and Mobility Research
Associated IDC Services: Quarterly Augmented & Virtual Reality Headset Tracker - Canada Region; Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker - Canada Region: Canada: Future of Work; Canadian Mobile Consumer and Connected Life; Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker - Canada Region
Jean Philippe (JP) Bouchard is Vice-President, Future of Work and Mobility Research, Canada. In this role, JP is responsible for leading the team of analysts delivering Continuous Intelligence Services, Trackers and custom research in the Future of Work and Mobility group, by providing insights on how technology is changing work culture, the workspace, and the workforce itself in Canada. JP’s team also provides insights on mobile phones, PCs, tablets, hard copy peripherals, 3D printing, wearables, AR-VR and consumer services. If you want to connect with Jean Philippe, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org