I’m a long time reader of M.G. Siegler, a well known blogger on many things but mainly focused on Apple (see https://500ish.com). He recently published his comments about the latest Apple keynote that he thinks was bizarre. I read it with great interest as I do every time he writes down his view about Apple keynotes. But this time something was just wrong and clearly the opposite of my own impressions that I already published earlier this week. Let’s see why.
First about the segment order of the keynote:
First and foremost, I think the entire event was arranged in the wrong order. While it was stacked to build up to the Apple TV+ unveil with all the celebrity fade-ins, this was by far the least interesting thing Apple unveiled.
To this, I must agree. The star of the show wasn’t the Hollywood stars but the Apple Card. Probably because this is the part that touch technology most and because it is just showing Apple in its best light. Let’s continue.
But enlisting Oprah to use the stage at the end to basically give a pitch to other talent to sign up with Apple was… weird. Really fucking weird.
And why is that? Apple wants to attract people not only in technology but now in content creation. I’m not into “Hollywood behind the scenes” but I can imagine that if Oprah is on board with Apple, probably many others will join too. At the end of the day, it is all about Apple’s bottom line in content creation. Isn’t ?
I thought the opening video was well done. I would say Bond-esque, but really it was more Bond-ish. Maybe more like an Austin Powers opening given the humorous cards. I did especially appreciate ‘Edited by: a thousand no’s for every yes’ and ‘Production assistant: Siri’.
Yes, that was nice for sure. Very different visual tone than we usually see from Apple.
To his credit, once Tim Cook took the stage, he did note that this was going to be a different type of event. And boy was it! With that, the non-stop talk about services and services and services and services began — including, amazingly, a definition of the word ‘service’. How much are services on Apple’s mind? Tim Cook broke out the fucking dictionary on us.
You know, Apple is regarded as an hardware company where the iPhone is losing steam. This is what the tech and finance press is constantly saying, day after day, quarter after quarter. To oppose this bullshit, Apple responses. He may not like the emphasis. I do.
I did think the expansion of Apple’s mantra to: hardware + software + services, was a simple, savvy move.
Boy I think this is the right way to say it. The whole business is built around integration of every layers. This is one of their competitive advantage. For non technical people, this is an understandable way of expressing Apple’s vision. Let’s move on.
Now on Apple News+ and the News app.
An interesting comment:
What he failed to mention was the complete and utter failure that was Apple’s original Newsstand offering for the iPad.
How in the world, knowing Apple like he does, think that they would admit this but they barely are able to admit other kind of failures like this shitty MacBook butterfly keyboard flawed design? This is not Apple and he probably knows it.
And I have been a fan of the Apple News app for a while — it has been on my home screen for some time, basically because I do like the way it makes articles look, versus the mobile web, which makes most look like shit, clogging my screen with ads and being increasingly slow to load as a result.
Here in Canada it took a long time to get the service but now with iOS 12.2 it has become available. I’m trying to like it. I’m on the trial period. I certainly love the fact that there is no ads and the experience is fluid because nobody is tracking you, well, not as much as on the web.
Next up, the Apple Card
Next up was what I viewed as the real meat of the entire show: an update on Apple Pay. I continue to believe this is an under-appreciated aspect of Apple’s business. Perhaps a behemoth ready to break out. And the addition of the Apple Card to the offering may make that happen.
Judging the interest (iPhone users want the Apple Card — here’s why its appeal could propel Apple Pay), Apple is about to disrupt another market. Since Apple Pay is available in Canada, I’m no longer paying with real money most of the time. This isn’t just anecdotal. In fact, I don’t have money on me anymore. My hope now is to see this credit card coming to Canada. Maybe someday. But I don’t hold my breath as it will take time.
Apple is never ever first in a market. They rarely introduce sometime not already out there. So saying the Daily Cash is not a new thing misses the point. It all comes down to the way things are done. Apple Card isn’t new. Rewards aren’t new. But the Apple twist make this a little bit more enticing. That is the whole point.
And About Goldman Sachs:
It’s still a weird partner for Apple!
Siegler failed to mention why this is a weird partner. What would be a great one? Any partner for Apple can look weird as Apple likes to do their own stuff.
Cook came back on stage to call this the greatest innovation in credit cards in 50 years. Which, maybe? Probably not, but compelling nonetheless! Let’s see how long it takes Apple to cut Goldman out of the equation and go full bank.
After ten years of iPhone, Apple is not an internet provider or a cellular network provider. Why would they become a bank in the future? This is a simplistic extrapolation in my mind. But, the fact that Apple is tackling others problem with their own view and way of thinking about great user experience is enough to be a called innovation. The credit card business is lazy and now they will be kicked in the butt. This is good for all of us.
On Apple Arcade
I’m not a gamer. I never been one. But I do see the value in Apple proposition. I certainly understand that Apple is starting to back game development which is new. Cross device functionality is nice and mandatory which is not always the case. Yet, Siegler thinks Apple failed by not unveiling a game controller. Apple has been criticized with their Siri Remote, I guess we should watch out for what we wish for in this area. Apple is not a gaming company. As surprising as it may seem, the success of Apple in gaming is mainly due to mobility and power of their devices that happen to combine a phone and many other cool things.
But what Apple didn’t say:
Along those lines, one thing we didn’t get: a price. It’s unclear why, other than Apple still must be studying this element of the service — perhaps waiting to see what the aforementioned streaming services cost.⁶ And this is all a ways away: Fall 2019. Which raises the question: why announce it now? Because, well, services, I suppose. But this remains a weird thing for Apple to do.
I think Apple is waiting for the WWDC conference to get more feedback from the community. This could explain why they chose to announce it now.
On the Apple TV and Apple TV+
Siegler didn’t like this part at all. Me? I don’t really care besides this TV app redesign which I think looks better than the previous version. Was this segment too long? Probably. Where I agree with Siegler is about how Apple fucked up with Apple TV a few years ago when they said “The Future of TV is App”. Now they are saying the contrary and they try to hide the app from the user experience which I think is the right thing to do. This brings me to this idea of the Apple TV user interface. From day one of the latest generation of Apple TV, the main user interface should have been the TV app. Just like on the Apple Watch, the main interface is the watch face. With the menu button on the Siri Remote, the user could have been presented with the underlying layer of application icons. But it seems we are slowly getting there. Finally.
Contrary to Mr. Siegler, I loved these moments where the room was completely dark and then lights would turn on to reveal people on stage. It was a bit long between each segment but overall I liked the concept.
But the idea of watching an ad-free TV is compelling to me. The idea of not being tracked is even more compelling. I’m willing to pay for this. Probably many others too. This is the bet Apple is making here. Just wait for the content to come. And it will. No pricing yet? Yep. This is Apple. They control the message and they certainly don’t want us do the math with all the services they are announcing this year. Nobody wants us to do the math.
All in all, Siegler make it seems he is bored. Really. Social media is full of the tech press showing their bored state and crying about Apple not fulfilling their wildest dreams. I hope Siegler stay away from this shit show.