22 March 2016
Yesterday’s Apple event was a strange affair. It was uncharacteristically short, just over an hour, despite featuring significant new announcements for its flagship product lines. If you take out Apple’s extended discussion of its environment and health efforts, the products themselves were on stage for under half an hour. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just unusual.
A lot of this is because Apple’s new iPhone SE and 9.7 inch iPad Pro were self-explanatory. Smaller iPhone with near-identical design and latest internals, smaller iPad Pro with near-identical design latest (or better) internals. There just wasn’t much interesting stuff to explain or demo. That doesn’t mean these products suck or aren’t important. They are critical additions to the lineup which is why they get an event in the first place. I don’t think Apple could ever announce a new iPhone without a press conference of some ilk: it’s too mainstream.
One theme I saw very clearly was lower pricing. Apple dropped the entry price to so much stuff. I love it, it’s a very positive move. The Apple Watch is $50 cheaper. The iPad Air (2) is $100 cheaper. Moreover, the iPhone is now accessible at $399 off-contract.
Side-stepping the 16 GB plague, price-conscious customers have great options now. Leading up to the event, I was skeptical about the usefulness of an iPhone SE to Apple. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting them to sell it that cheaply. $499 for a 64 GB iPhone SE is under my prediction for what the 16 GB model would cost. $499 is marginally more expensive than what the 16 GB iPhone 5s sold for just 24 hours ago … crucially the SE also features the latest components: top-of-the-range CPU and GPU, fantastic camera and such.
Even the Apple Watch’s $50 drop makes it exponentially more appealing: recommending someone pick up a Sport feels like a lot less of a burden and the pricing is way closer to the Android smartwatch competition. Whatever you can say about the Apple Watch’s flaws, I strongly believe it’s better than what Samsung currently offers (assuming you use an iPhone). And now it’s even cheaper. I hope Apple can sustain the lower starting price when Apple Watch 2 hits later in the year.