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Opinion: How soon is too soon for an Apple Watch 2?

Watch4

Apple’s upcoming retail overhaul for displaying the Watch

A lot of my techie friends are saying that the entry priced-Apple Watch Sport will be their pick next month, and not because of the exterior look. The theory is that Sport is the cheapest way to experience Apple’s new product category in 2015, and since the second-gen Apple Watch will inevitably be upgraded, why pay a premium this year for nicer materials such as stainless steel and sapphire glass?

Despite the Apple Watch’s desire to marry jewelry with technology, it hasn’t lost the baggage gadgets carry, namely the reality that they’ll be outdated and replaced in a relatively short period of time. If the Apple Watch evolves anything like the original iPad did when it became the iPad 2, the differences could be dramatic.

Personally, when I think about getting more perceived value out of a higher-priced stainless steel Apple Watch rather than testing the waters with the cheaper aluminum model, I’m more concerned with how soon the Apple Watch 2 will be announced rather than how much more functional the newer device could be. No matter what happens with the first-generation model, an Apple Watch 2 will come to market. How will Apple balance keeping the Apple Watch evolutionary momentum going with keeping the first-generation model “modern” for enough time to satisfy early adopters?

The reality is that anything goes after the current Apple Watch launches on April 24th. Apple’s history of updating products shows that the company never rules out deviating from the typical 12-month product upgrade cycle. The Apple Watch upgrade cycle is history waiting to be written, but some iOS devices (not considering the stagnated iPod touch) have remained at flagship status for more than 16 months, while others were upgraded after just 7 short months.

If an Apple Watch 2 powered by an S2 chip with even more sensors arrives 6 months after the original Apple Watch goes on sale, original Apple Watch owners wouldn’t lose any functionality from the product they only recently bought; there will just be a newer version to decide to buy or not, and a mild dose of frustration for those who didn’t hold out for the second-gen model.

Here are some of the possibilities illustrating how long the original Apple Watch will remain the only Apple Watch:

The Apple Watch could be the next iPad 3, in terms of time spent as the current model (and maybe weight and thickness, if the next-gen watch slims down). The iPad 4 was unveiled just 7 months after the iPad 3, moving the tablet launch month from March to October. While the iPad family benefitted from having a better flagship product, customers who had spent $500+  to have the latest tablet enjoyed a rather short bragging period, even given natural evolution in the tech world.

Measuring the Apple Watch’s lifespan is more complicated for a few reasons: it received an early pre-announcement before launch, and will be sold into a small list of countries at first. Apple originally unveiled the Apple Watch in September 2014, and customers won’t be able to own the device until April 2015. That’s a 7-month span — about the lifespan of the iPad 3 — that you could loosely consider as part of the product’s life cycle. Add 12 months without a hardware update from the time it goes on sale until the next release, and we’re looking at 19 months with the first-gen Watch being the only Apple Watch we know. Calls to innovate would inevitably follow.

With that in mind, it’s not impossible to imagine an Apple Watch 2 update taking place at the end of this year, although I admit I would feel a tad slighted as an Apple Watch 1 customer. Spring 2016 (historically more likely) would satisfy me.

The Apple Watch could be the next iPhone 4. Remember how long it felt between the iPhone 4 unveiling and the highly anticipated iPhone 4S announcement? 16 months in between meant everyone was more than ready for the “iPhone 5″ before Apple revealed the iPhone 4S, featuring nearly identical external hardware and an improved camera paired with Siri. If Apple used March 2016 to reveal the next Watch, that would amount to 18 months in between the announcement and successor, but only 11 months between shipping and the next version. Both the second-gen iPhone and second-gen iPad took this approach.

Keep in mind also that the Apple Watch will only be for sale in nine countries next month, with additional markets likely lighting up in the months that follow. These markets will supplement Apple Watch sales, adding new potential customers during a lengthy product cycle similar to the iPhone 4’s Verizon launch in January 2011, and the white iPhone 4’s delayed release in April 2011.

Apple took nearly 6 months between the original iPhone unveiling and the release, then announced the iPhone 3G 12 months later, a month before its release. Similarly, the original iPad was announced 3 months before going on sale, then replaced after 12 months. Again, bear in mind that the Apple Watch has 7 months lead time between announcement and release, longer than either product.

Apple Watch Things app

Native Apple Watch apps are coming in 2015. Adding native app support from third-party developers — not just extension-like WatchKit apps — to the Apple Watch will be a big deal on the software side. An SDK for creating such apps is on its way this year. Showing it off in June at WWDC, then letting developers ship in the fall a year after the Apple Watch’s first unveiling, would pad the extended life cycle.

Changing this aspect of the software would “update” the Apple Watch lineup without changing the physical product. Come next spring, a March or April Apple Watch 2 announcement would give original Apple Watch customers adequate time to own Apple’s new device before being asked to consider upgrading to the newer, better version or not.

There’s also chatter that new materials are being considered for the casing of the Apple Watch. From the perspective of someone interested in spending a little more money for nicer materials while hoping a newer version doesn’t surface too soon, I’d still be satisfied with my purchase if a revved Apple Watch lineup added new material options while offering the same internal hardware and features. It’s the promise of new sensors and improved battery life that tempt upgrading.

Apple-Watch-packaging

So what should you make of all this information? For me, this is an exercise in determining the value of paying a premium for materials that deliver nearly the same utility — for $200 more, the sapphire front will be more protective by some factor than the Ion-X glass found on the Sport model. I would be more likely to upgrade from an Apple Watch to an Apple Watch 2 if I only paid the utility price for a Sport model, but investing in a stainless steel first-gen model would make me hold on to my purchase a little while longer than I might otherwise consider with a tech product.

As I mentioned above, other people are considering these issues when deciding which Apple Watch to purchase, even if they’re already sold on the utility of the device. If you knew the Apple Watch 2 was actually 24 months away from being announced, would you consider paying more for a nicer version now?


Filed under: Apple Watch, Opinion Tagged: App Store, Apple, Apple watch, Apple Watch 2, Apple Watch App Store, Apple Watch apps, Apple Watch SDK, Apple Watch Sport, iPad, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPhone, IPhone 3G, iphone 4, iPhone 4S, Smartphones, smartwatches, Tablets, Watch, watches, WatchKit apps

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Opinion: How soon is too soon for an Apple Watch 2?

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Watch4

Apple’s upcoming retail overhaul for displaying the Watch

A lot of my techie friends are saying that the entry priced-Apple Watch Sport will be their pick next month, and not because of the exterior look. The theory is that Sport is the cheapest way to experience Apple’s new product category in 2015, and since the second-gen Apple Watch will inevitably be upgraded, why pay a premium this year for nicer materials such as stainless steel and sapphire glass?

Despite the Apple Watch’s desire to marry jewelry with technology, it hasn’t lost the baggage gadgets carry, namely the reality that they’ll be outdated and replaced in a relatively short period of time. If the Apple Watch evolves anything like the original iPad did when it became the iPad 2, the differences could be dramatic.

Personally, when I think about getting more perceived value out of a higher-priced stainless steel Apple Watch rather than testing the waters with the cheaper aluminum model, I’m more concerned with how soon the Apple Watch 2 will be announced rather than how much more functional the newer device could be. No matter what happens with the first-generation model, an Apple Watch 2 will come to market. How will Apple balance keeping the Apple Watch evolutionary momentum going with keeping the first-generation model “modern” for enough time to satisfy early adopters?

The reality is that anything goes after the current Apple Watch launches on April 24th. Apple’s history of updating products shows that the company never rules out deviating from the typical 12-month product upgrade cycle. The Apple Watch upgrade cycle is history waiting to be written, but some iOS devices (not considering the stagnated iPod touch) have remained at flagship status for more than 16 months, while others were upgraded after just 7 short months.

If an Apple Watch 2 powered by an S2 chip with even more sensors arrives 6 months after the original Apple Watch goes on sale, original Apple Watch owners wouldn’t lose any functionality from the product they only recently bought; there will just be a newer version to decide to buy or not, and a mild dose of frustration for those who didn’t hold out for the second-gen model.

Here are some of the possibilities illustrating how long the original Apple Watch will remain the only Apple Watch:

The Apple Watch could be the next iPad 3, in terms of time spent as the current model (and maybe weight and thickness, if the next-gen watch slims down). The iPad 4 was unveiled just 7 months after the iPad 3, moving the tablet launch month from March to October. While the iPad family benefitted from having a better flagship product, customers who had spent $500+  to have the latest tablet enjoyed a rather short bragging period, even given natural evolution in the tech world.

Measuring the Apple Watch’s lifespan is more complicated for a few reasons: it received an early pre-announcement before launch, and will be sold into a small list of countries at first. Apple originally unveiled the Apple Watch in September 2014, and customers won’t be able to own the device until April 2015. That’s a 7-month span — about the lifespan of the iPad 3 — that you could loosely consider as part of the product’s life cycle. Add 12 months without a hardware update from the time it goes on sale until the next release, and we’re looking at 19 months with the first-gen Watch being the only Apple Watch we know. Calls to innovate would inevitably follow.

With that in mind, it’s not impossible to imagine an Apple Watch 2 update taking place at the end of this year, although I admit I would feel a tad slighted as an Apple Watch 1 customer. Spring 2016 (historically more likely) would satisfy me.

The Apple Watch could be the next iPhone 4. Remember how long it felt between the iPhone 4 unveiling and the highly anticipated iPhone 4S announcement? 16 months in between meant everyone was more than ready for the “iPhone 5″ before Apple revealed the iPhone 4S, featuring nearly identical external hardware and an improved camera paired with Siri. If Apple used March 2016 to reveal the next Watch, that would amount to 18 months in between the announcement and successor, but only 11 months between shipping and the next version. Both the second-gen iPhone and second-gen iPad took this approach.

Keep in mind also that the Apple Watch will only be for sale in nine countries next month, with additional markets likely lighting up in the months that follow. These markets will supplement Apple Watch sales, adding new potential customers during a lengthy product cycle similar to the iPhone 4’s Verizon launch in January 2011, and the white iPhone 4’s delayed release in April 2011.

Apple took nearly 6 months between the original iPhone unveiling and the release, then announced the iPhone 3G 12 months later, a month before its release. Similarly, the original iPad was announced 3 months before going on sale, then replaced after 12 months. Again, bear in mind that the Apple Watch has 7 months lead time between announcement and release, longer than either product.

Apple Watch Things app

Native Apple Watch apps are coming in 2015. Adding native app support from third-party developers — not just extension-like WatchKit apps — to the Apple Watch will be a big deal on the software side. An SDK for creating such apps is on its way this year. Showing it off in June at WWDC, then letting developers ship in the fall a year after the Apple Watch’s first unveiling, would pad the extended life cycle.

Changing this aspect of the software would “update” the Apple Watch lineup without changing the physical product. Come next spring, a March or April Apple Watch 2 announcement would give original Apple Watch customers adequate time to own Apple’s new device before being asked to consider upgrading to the newer, better version or not.

There’s also chatter that new materials are being considered for the casing of the Apple Watch. From the perspective of someone interested in spending a little more money for nicer materials while hoping a newer version doesn’t surface too soon, I’d still be satisfied with my purchase if a revved Apple Watch lineup added new material options while offering the same internal hardware and features. It’s the promise of new sensors and improved battery life that tempt upgrading.

Apple-Watch-packaging

So what should you make of all this information? For me, this is an exercise in determining the value of paying a premium for materials that deliver nearly the same utility — for $200 more, the sapphire front will be more protective by some factor than the Ion-X glass found on the Sport model. I would be more likely to upgrade from an Apple Watch to an Apple Watch 2 if I only paid the utility price for a Sport model, but investing in a stainless steel first-gen model would make me hold on to my purchase a little while longer than I might otherwise consider with a tech product.

As I mentioned above, other people are considering these issues when deciding which Apple Watch to purchase, even if they’re already sold on the utility of the device. If you knew the Apple Watch 2 was actually 24 months away from being announced, would you consider paying more for a nicer version now?


Filed under: Apple Watch, Opinion Tagged: App Store, Apple, Apple watch, Apple Watch 2, Apple Watch App Store, Apple Watch apps, Apple Watch SDK, Apple Watch Sport, iPad, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPhone, IPhone 3G, iphone 4, iPhone 4S, Smartphones, smartwatches, Tablets, Watch, watches, WatchKit apps

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Apple launches iPhone and iPad trade-in program in China Apple Stores

Screenshot 2015-04-01 08.36.37

Apple today officially launched a version of its Apple Store iPhone trade-in program for China, as noted on the individual store pages for China’s Apple Retail Stores.

As is the case in the United States and several other countries with Apple Stores, the program allows a user to bring in an older iPhone model and trade in that device for gift card credit toward the purchase of a new iPhone; the program will most likely not allow a customer to trade in an iPhone toward the purchase of an Apple Watch. But as contrasted with the U.S., France, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Italy, the new China program is limited to iPhones and iPads, and will not support non-Apple smartphones.

While Apple is partnered with BrightStar in many countries to recycle traded-in iPhones, Apple will sell the phones returned in China to Foxconn, which will in turn repair and flip the phones on secondary markets. In the United States, iPhone customers have numerous trade-in options, including Amazon’s ship-free, instant-quote trade-in system, and Gazelle’s aggressive cell phone trade-in program.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Angela Ahrendts, Apple Store, Apple watch, Brightstar, china, Foxconn, iPad, iPhone, IPhone 3G, IPhone 3GS, iphone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iphone 6 plus, Refurbished, retail stores, Reuse and Recycle, trade-in

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iOS 8 turns up evidence of another possible iPhone 6 resolution: a larger 828 x 1472

Early this year, we heard from a source that Apple had been testing multiple resolutions for the iPhone 6’s larger display, including a resolution of 960 x 1704. As we outlined, the benefit of that resolution is that it allows both developers and consumers to smoothly transition to the new display without losing high-quality imagery and graphics found in many applications from the App Store. At that density on both a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display (the two larger screen sizes for the next iPhone), all content would display larger in comparison to the current, 4-inch iPhone, but there would not be more actual screen real estate. Now, we’ve discovered another potential iPhone 6 screen resolution by way of iOS 8 files inside of the latest Xcode 6 Software Development Kit (SDK) betas for developers.

414 File

As you can see above, the new resolution is found inside of a file within iOS 8’s “Springboard” application. Springboard is another word for the iPhone’s Home screen (where icons are displayed when you tap the Home button). This particular file outlines for the system where icons, by default, will be placed on an iPhone’s Home screen. This particular file, which was added in Xcode 6 beta 5 earlier this month and still exists in yesterday’s Xcode 6 beta 6, is optimized for an iPhone with a resolution of 414 (width) x 736 (height). The iPhone SDK parses hardware resolutions via “point values,” so the actual “Retina” resolution is in fact double (or potentially triple) whatever numbers the SDK presents.

1136

For example, the 4-inch iPhone 5, 5s, 5c and 5th generation iPod touch display resolution is 640 x 1136, but the SDK presents it as “320 x 568.” This can be seen above on the iPhone file listing a “DefaultIconState” for an iPhone with a pixel height of 568 pixels.

Back to the new 414 x 736 file, this iPhone resolution would be slightly sharper (on the 4.7-inch model) than the current iPhone resolution and this new pixel density would actually bring more screen space to the iPhone, allowing Apple to unlock more software-based functionality for its flagship smartphone lineup. Unlike with previous iPhone resoluiton changes, moving to 414 on the width and 736 on the length would add pixels to both the height and the width of the iPhone.

Like the previously discussed 960 x 1704 resolution in testing earlier this year and the iPhone 5/5s/5c’s 640 x 1136 resolution, this new 414 x 736 resolution comes in at a 16:9 ratio. The benefits of Apple sticking to the 16:9 ratio, which seems likely based on the part leaks thus far, include an easier developer transition and consumers continuing to be able to watch widescreen video on an iPhone.

To make sense of what this other potential iPhone resolution could mean for the iPhone 6, we’ve calculated what this resolution would mean at a Retina “2X” scale on new 4-inch (just for completeness, there has been no indication that a revamped 4-inch model is coming) , 4.7-inch, and 5.5-inch screens:

@2x: 828 x 1472 on 4-inch display:

4.0 @2

@2x: 828 x 1472 on 4.7-inch display:

4.7 @2

@2x: 828 x 1472 on 5.5-inch display:

5.5 @2

As you can see, the pixel density on both the new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models would meet Apple’s self-imposed Retina threshold. The 4.7-inch model’s sharpness would also surpass the 326PPI density of the iPhone 5/5S/5c, and the 5.5-inch model would be above the 300PPI threshold that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs discussed upon introducing the iPhone 4’s Retina display in 2010.

The benefit of such a display, beyond the additional screen real estate, would be how many icons Apple could fit on each Home screen. The previously discussed file from the iOS 8 SDK indicates that Apple is still planning to include 20 icons per Home screen (excluding the dock), but the additional pixels on the top and the sides of the new display could open up the door for additional icons per screen. Based on calculations, Apple technically has room (at the current iOS icon sizes) to add two additional rows and one additional column.

In our report from earlier this year, we noted that Apple has also been experimenting with moving away from @2x resolutions in favor of rendering the operating system at @3x. For completeness, here are the same calculations at 1242 x 2208, which is 3x the original point values found in the SDK of 414 x 736.

@3x: 1242 x 2208 on 4-inch display:

4.0 @3

@3x: 1242 x 2208 on 4.7-inch display:

4.7 @3

@3x: 1242 x 2208 on 5.5-inch display:

5.5 @3

As you can see, these 3X pixel densities are extraordinarily high, so it seems unlikely that Apple will be able to reach those numbers while keeping the iPhone 6 thin and light (and of course with proper battery life). Of course, with the new phones already in production, Apple has decided what the resolution will be. At this point, between the two potential variations that we know of, the 828 x 1472 sounds more likely solely based on the reference appearing in the most recent builds of iOS 8, the operating system that will come pre-loaded on the new iPhones. Of course, another potential option is that the iPhone 6’s resolution is another pixel ratio not yet discussed, and whatever it may be will be announced at an event on Tuesday, September 9th. The new devices will also include new sensors and improved camera systems.


Filed under: iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: Apple, Display resolution, iOS, iPhone, iphone 4, iPhone 6, Pixel density, Retina, Retina Display, SpringBoard

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Apple announces iOS 8 device compatibility, drops support for iPhone 4

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 11.55.42 AM

During the WWDC 2014 keynote, Apple wrapped up its overview of iOS 8 and has officially announced device compatibility. This release is available for developers today and schedules for a public launch in fall.

iOS 8 will be compatible with iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display. So it looks like the iPhone 4 is officially dead to Apple.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple, compatibility, device compatibility, iOS 8, iOS 8 release, iOS devices, iphone 4, iPhone 5

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