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Apple’s most controversial event yet: a review!

The tech giant is once again willing to take risks, innovate and come out with all guns blazing

brunch Updated: Sep 25, 2017 19:15 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Apple Park,Steve Jobs,Steve Jobs Theater
The Apple Watch Series 3 with its own cellular connection might not make it to India

Apple Park, the all-new headquarters for the iconic company is stunning! Envisioned by Steve Jobs, it breaks new ground in many ways. There are 17 megawatts of rooftop solar panels, the world’s largest naturally ventilated buildings and a 2.8 million sq ft main building that literally sits on shock absorbers. Then there’s the Steve Jobs Theater – a 20-foot-tall glass cylinder situated atop a hill. And inside this building took place its most controversial event ever.

The Steve Jobs Theater - a 20-foot-tall glass cylinder situated atop a hill

Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular version won’t make it to India

A smartwatch that needs a smartphone to be connected to it for it to work isn’t very smart, is it? Finally Apple broke the umbilical cord and announced the Apple Watch Series 3 with its own Cellular connection. It has an all new electronic virtual SIM that is a clone of your own smartphone number. And therein lies the problem. This watch will need a mobile operator tie-up as well as brand new technology implementation. Things that aren’t happening in India right now. There’s also this whole legal situation where cloning your SIM even for your own self isn’t allowed in India.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone X have a long gap between launch. Poor Strategy by Apple?

As the iPhone X only comes out about 45 days later, the iPhone 8 won’t sell well till then. Most people who are in the market to buy a new iPhone will obviously wait and check out the all new X before plunking down their money. Partially, the theory is correct. But embedded within is a brilliant business strategy by Apple, one that isn’t very obvious at first glance. Apple’s greatest problem is that the launch of every new iPhone has a fixed point. One new phone per year around the same time. Thus sales drop off about three to four months before the launch of a new iPhone every year leading to huge revenue losses. Now Apple has two completely different line-up of phones. My prediction is that a new iPhone 8S will come out in about eight months from now and a new iPhone X will come out in about 14 months. Thus, from thereon Apple will have two new iPhone series out every year, one every six months – thus no drop off of sales and revenue will catapult to new highs.

The long gap between the launch of iPhone 8S (right) and iPhone X (left) is a strategy that’s meant to catapult revenues

The iPhone X costs more than ₹1 lakh. Has Apple lost it?

Well, on the contrary – they’ve won it. The crown of the most expensive premium smartphone also comes with some master strokes within. People in the market for a new iPhone already have high budgets. An extra ~20K for someone that already has 80K to spend isn’t going to break the bank. Most will want the next big thing and will be willing to pay some extra bucks for it. That’s been the whole halo effect of Apple products from the very beginning. Thus Apple X will sell well, those not convinced will buy the iPhone 8, those with a lower budget can now get the iPhone 7 and 6S at much lower prices. Apple just went from a single product company to a company that has the most diversified portfolio in the premium segment.

No home button? No Touch ID? And isn’t Face ID a huge security risk?

The new iPhone X comes with a corner to corner display leaving no space for a home button or a fingerprint scanner. Most companies would have put the scanner at the back of the phone. Not Apple. In a radical decision, it went with face scanning technology for security. The X uses an infrared system to cast a grid of 30,000 dots onto your face and maps it. The claim is that it will recognise you even if you grow a beard, change your hair, wear a cap or glasses. And that it’s so secure that it won’t work if someone holds it up to your face while you’re sleeping, prints out your face as a photo or even wears a mask of your face. I see it as a huge Achilles Heel. This is the kind of thing that awakens the devil within the hacking and spoofing community. They are going to crack this within hours of the phone coming out. And what about 3D printed models of your face? Remember, this isn’t just for unlocking your phone – its also for digital payments. My prediction? The next version of the X will bring back the Touch ID within the power button on the side.

This wasn’t the Apple that we’ve seen over the last few years that plays safe and doesn’t want to rock the boat. This was the Apple of the old – that was willing to take risks, innovate, set new standards and come out with all guns blazing. Welcome Back Apple.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, September 24, 2017

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First Published: Sep 24, 2017 00:59 IST