Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop looks at a potential strategy for the iWatch, the new sapphire screens for the iPhone, rumours of the tiny battery for the new handsets, a happy sixth birthday for the App Store, a new blog for the Swift language, a smaller carbon footprint, and a European trademark for the Apple Store layout.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many things that have happened around Apple over the last seven days.
An iWatch Strategy That’s Not For The Masses?
Forbes contributor Anthony Kosner has been thinking about the smartwatch world that a mythical iWatch would enter into, presuming a launch in late 2014 (which some industry analyst believe is now going to be pushed back to November). Facing up to the first-mover advantage of Android Wear and Samsung’s experience with the Gear range of smartwatches, could Apple be ready to pass over a massive consumer push on ‘generation one’ and aim for al limited luxury market launch?
Without people feeling they need to wear a watch (again) a smartwatch is just another faddish wearable that eventually we forget to charge or replace.
How do you convince the mass of consumers to consider an iWatch to be a necessary accessory for 21st century life? Make it a fashion-forward, celebrity-endorsed object of desire. Make it aspirational (to use the technical marketing term.) And then, once its value and exclusivity is established, transform it into an “attainable luxury,” much like the iPhone has become.
Both iPhone 6 Screens Set For Sapphire…
It looks like the strongly rumoured 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch iPhone 6s will both come with sapphire technology as part of the screen assembly. This is a story that Forbes contributor Mark Rogowsky has been following since Apple placed a sapphire order for $578 million at the start of 2014 and the latest leaked part – the sapphire glass screen layer - matches up with much of the conjecture about new screen technology which is much more resistant to everyday damage.
…But The Power Saving Capabilities Of iOS 8 Will Need To Be Impressive.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 has 2800 mAh, the HTC One (M8) has 2600 mAH, and the Sony Xperia Z2 comes with 3200 mAh. What about the iPhone 6′s battery? Following up on some more parts that have escaped the supply chain, the answer seems to be 1800 mAh for the 4.7 inch iPhone 6, and 2500 mAh for the 5.5 inch ‘phablet’ iPhone.
“Both are notable increases”, writes Gordon Kelly, “from the 1560mAh battery found into the iPhone 5S, but in my opinion neither increase is big enough. Why? Because of the headline feature of both iPhone 6 models: their larger screens.”
Happy Birthday To The App Store
At the launch of the iPhone, Steve Jobs placed the app emphasis on web apps – an approach that lasted just long enough for Apple to get an SDK and the submission process sorted out. Six years later, the App Store is still going strong, as Forbes’ contributor Mark Rogowsky recalls on its birthday:
Apple paid out an estimated $10 billion to them over the past year for app sales, with Google paying another $5 billion on top of that from the proceeds of its own app store, Google Play. With 1.2 million apps currently available on iOS, not everyone selling on the App Store is a big winner, of course. But companies like King (the maker of Candy Crush) and Super Cell (of Clash of Clans fame) are among the billion-dollar-plus success stories.
Those success stories created a modern-day myth of an app-gold-rush, but a report released this week by Midia Research shows a huge concentration of the revenue generated by freemium apps concentrated on a few companies and a handful of applications. And with the revenues generated, they can easily spend a million dollars a day in advertising to acquire new players, making it harder for new entrants to join the top table.
Swiftly, To The Blog-Mobile!
Six years later, developers are still playing catch-up with Apple. Now it’s with the Swift programming language that debuted at WWDC this year. Apple’s developer team has started a blog on Swift, looking at the design of Swift, and also providing examples and advice for those working with the language:
This new blog will bring you a behind-the-scenes look into the design of the Swift language by the engineers who created it, in addition to the latest news and hints to turn you into a productive Swift programmer.
Get started with Swift by downloading Xcode 6 beta, now available to all Registered Apple Developers for free. The Swift Resources tab has a ton of great links to videos, documentation, books, and sample code to help you become one of the world’s first Swift experts.
Could Intel Delay The MacBook Refresh With Broadwell Delay?
There are indications that Intel’s next generation of low-power high-performance CPUs (Broadwell), will be delayed into 2015 with production not starting until late Q1. The belief that these chips will be powering the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air designs means that Apple (and other ultrabook manufacturers) will be relying on the existing has well architecture for a second holiday season of sales.
That could have a knock-on effect on Apple’s ultra book and PC market share. With many Apple fans holding off for significant improvements in technology before upgrading, sales could be dampened. IDC has just reported that Mac’s market share has dropped 0.9% to 10% for Q2 2014, and year on year growth has dropped 1.7%, we could see Apple fall back slightly as the faithful wait out the delay.
Apple’s Diversity Profile Will be Released “At Some Point”, Says Tim Cook
With over 80,000 employees, Apple is a company with a wide and diverse employee base. How diverse has always been a question for some. From the C-Suite team to the Apple Store workers, Apple has been held to higher standards than some other technology companies. Noting the issue at the annual Sun Valley tech conference, Allen & Co, Tim Cook said the numbers would be released in due course (reports Bloomberg) but Apple is ”…more focused on actions.”
We’re Just A Little Bit Greener Today
Meanwhile Apple’s carbon footprint has dropped by three percent (reports The Telegraph). This is the first year on year decrease since Apple started to keep records in 2009.
The company’s carbon footprint from energy use also fell by 31 per cent from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2013, despite overall energy use rising by 44 per cent. A total of 145 US retail stores are now fully powered by renewable energy, alongside all 21 Australian outlets.
…And Finally, Over To The Apple Store.
Closing out the Apple Loop this are two stories on the Apple Store. The first is from Robin Wauters at Tech.EU, concerning the trademark application to the EU by Apple for the layout of their Apple Stores. While the 3D trademark was awarded by the USPTO in 2013, the application on the east of the Atlantic has taken longer. Initially rejected by the German courts, an appeal by Apple’s legal team has finally resulted in a decision (in Apple’s favour) from the Court of Justice of the European Union… Apple can trademark the store design.
Finally, and much closer to home for me, after months of non-denials and non-confirmations, the hoardings around an old storefront in Edinburgh have been updated with some nice shiny Apple logos. Scotland’s capital might have suspected it for some time, but another Apple Store is on the way. Now the speculation over the opening date can commence.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, and don’t forget this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit!