Category Archives: Smartphones

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desire to marry jewelry with technology, it hasn’t lost the baggage gadgets carry, namely the reality that they’ll be outdated and replaced in a relatively short period of time.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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AAA road safety campaign shows real videos of teenage car crashes while using smartphones

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has put online video clips from real car crashes caused by 16-19 year old drivers using smartphones while driving. The videos, which show both the view through the windscreen and a view of the driver, are designed to make real the dangers of distracted driving.

None of the crashes featured in the above clip feature injuries, but almost 3,000 people a year are killed in crashes involving drivers in this age-range, the majority of them caused by the driver being “inattentive or engaged in some other non-driving-related activity.” A further 383,000 people a year are injured.

Researchers at the University of Iowa examined carcam footage from 1,691 crashes involving drivers aged 16-19 to determine the cause. Distracted driving was found to be the cause in 58% of crashes, with 12% of them due to using a phone while driving. For crashes involving the car leaving the road, a full third of crashes were attributed to cellphone use.

UK tests conducted earlier this month suggested that smartwatches are even worse than smartphones for driver distraction.

The full AAA report can be downloaded here.


Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Distracted driving, iPhone, Mobile phone, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Smartphones, Teenagers, Traffic collision

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Apple will offer Android switchers gift cards to trade-in rival smartphones for iPhones

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 10.09.41 AM

Apple is preparing to launch another program to boost iPhone sales in its stores, a stated goal of CEO Tim Cook.

According to sources, Apple will soon introduce a new recycling and trade-in program that will accept non-Apple smartphones, notably including Android and BlackBerry devices, in exchange for gift cards to be used toward the purchase of new iPhones. In continuing to court Android switchers, Apple will use a similar system to the one it uses to repurchase iPhones, whereby Apple Retail Store employees determine trade-in values for devices by considering their cosmetic and functional condition.

The new program will begin in the coming weeks, following extensive training programs for retail store employees that will begin later this week. Apple employees will be able to transfer address book contacts from the rival smartphones to the iPhones, but other data will have to be moved by customers…

Apple originally launched the iPhone Reuse and Recycle trade-in program in mid-2013 to encourage upgrades from older iPhone models to the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and the iPhone 5c. Over the past couple of years, Apple has offered upgrade events to boost sales, and rapidly expanded the program from the United States to Canada, Europe, and Australia. The results have been marked upticks in iPhone sales, including multiple record-breaking quarters. Last summer, Apple rolled out a version of the program centered around the iPad.

While Apple’s iPhone trade-in program is known for its consistency and convenience, the pricing is typically not up to par with some of Apple’s competitors in the smartphone trade-in space. Amazon’s trade-in program provides instant online quotes and a free shipping label for phone trade-ins, covering a wide variety of different smartphones and other electronics. Apple does tweak its algorithm with partner BrightStar for iPhone trade-in prices, however, so it is likely that rival smartphone prices will be adjusted over time.


Filed under: iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: Android, Apple, Apple Store, Recycling, Smartphones, switchers, trade-in

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IDC: Xiaomi’s growth tops Samsung in China, but Apple is making a dent too

iphone-lineup

According to the latest numbers from IDC, Xiaomi—the rising star of the smartphone industry—has managed to pass up Samsung in China. In 2013, Xiaomi trailed Samsung’s almost 19% market share by a solid 13 percentage points (at just 5.3%), and was only the 5th largest maker of smartphones in China. Things changed in 2014. Last year, Xiaomi finished off with 12.5% of the market, almost a half-point more than Samsung at 12.1%, taking the top spot and passing not just Samsung, but Lenovo, Huawei, and Coolpad as well.

Interestingly, though, the latest numbers also show that Apple’s launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus contributed to a decent size dent in both Samsung and Xiaomi’s market footprint in Q4 of last year.

Apple’s market share grew from 5% to 12.3% in one quarter, while Xiaomi fell by 1.1% and Samsung fell by 3.1% over that same time period. Year over year, Samsung was down to 7.9% share compared to 18.8% in Q3 of 2013—coming out to a -49.9% growth over just 12 months.

The smartphone market in China, though, regardless of who holds the reigns, is growing. 107.5 million smartphones were shipped to China in 2014 Q4, which is a 2% growth compared to the quarter before. 420.7 million smartphones total were shipped in China in 2014, and there was a year-over-year growth of 19% for Q4.

Recently, Xiaomi held an event in San Francisco, and while it didn’t come with the launch of any of the company’s flagship products on American soil, the point of it was to introduce the brand to North America. The company is planning to bring its Mi.com marketplace website to the US before the end of the year, but for now the only thing you’ll be able to buy are accessories—like fitness trackers, power packs, and headphones.

The China Smartphone Market Picks Up Slightly in 2014Q4, IDC Reports - prHK25437515 2015-02-17 14-22-12


Filed under: Tech Industry Tagged: Apple, china, IDC, iPhone, Samsung, smartphone market, Smartphones, Xiaomi

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