Tag: Apple Watch

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Apple Products without Purpose

As Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus preorder weekend progresses, I reflect on the week’s announcements. Increasingly, I see the company as the middle-aged boys club; men of a certain age designing products for rich, white, middle-age males. Of course, execs want women and people of other ages and classes buying pretty things, too. I refer to a mindset that seems to be core to Apple’s post-Steve Jobs design ethic.

“Products without purpose” I call new MacBook, Apple Watch, and iPad Pro. Where once Steve Jobs filled niches and created new categories, CEO Tim Cook and company create new Apple ware for which there is little to no need whatsoever. 

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iPad Pro: My Story in Tweets

Apple’s newest tablet, announced earlier today, isn’t on my shopping list. At 12.9 inches, the screen on the iPad Pro is too big. The device can’t comfortably fit the hands for long periods of time. I have experience with 12-inchers. I will likely keep my iPad Air 2, unless Google comes out with some gotta-have Nexus tab before Apple starts selling its beast in November.

The media event marks a big day for the fruit-logo company, which also introduced new Apple Watch models. That’s code for same internals with more case color and band choices. Apple TV gets a big refresh, and new iPhones are queued up for preorders starting Saturday September 12. The company usually does Friday, but that’s the 9-11 terrorist attack anniversary. 

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Microsoft’s Hollywood-style Redemption Story

Satya Nadella is a man with a formidable challenge. Microsoft CEO’s predecessor, Steve Ballmer, squandered the company’s mobile fortunes. From smartphone platform leader a decade ago, the software-and-services giant is a category also-ran in 2015. Microsoft has no independent mobile platform future. The war is over. There remains this: Making alliances with old enemies to preserve existing territory, while using the foothold to reach into new frontiers.

Made available August 5th, Outlook for Apple Watch is a very smart move and metaphor for what went wrong on Microsoft mobile platforms and what has to go right to preserve and extend the legacy applications stack. While Windows 10 makes its way to Lumia devices, the future is Android and iOS and how the company supports them with contextually meaningful cloud-connected apps and services. 

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What I Don’t Like About Apple Watch

About two weeks ago, I shared how Apple Watch tickles my fancy. From likes, we go to dislikes, and keeping with the other I purposely limit the number to five. Quick recap: I bought the aluminum model on June 18, 2015 from the local Apple Store. Seven days later, I exchanged for the stainless steel variant. Except to charge or to shower, I’ve worn it constantly since.

Broadly, my feelings about the smartwatch are mixed. The delivered benefits are excellent, but they aren’t enough to justify the lofty price. If not for using MacBook Pro and iPhone 6 Plus this summer, Android Wear and iOS incompatibilities, or the promise of watchOS 2 coming early autumn, I would not have purchased the device. I’m not dissatisfied with Apple Watch, but want more from it. As I explained on July 18, the measure of success or failure isn’t sales but returns. I kept mine. How many early buyers didn’t? 

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Tim Cook Talks a Lot but Doesn’t Say Much About Apple Watch Sales

Today’s question: Is Apple’s CEO hiding weak smartwatch sales or does he demonstrate transcending leadership by positioning for greater platform success—taking the long view? The answer lies perhaps in his comments made during yesterday’s fiscal Q3 2015 earnings conference call.

In data released today, Strategy Analytics puts Apple Watch shipments at 4 million for the April quarter. Yesterday, Canalys gave estimate that is 200,000 units higher. Apple doesn’t share the real numbers that it surely has, although in chief exec Tim Cook’s remarks that follow, there are hints—but little more. Something he says later in the call is quite provocative; genius and contrary-logistics-thinking. Either he’s hiding or abiding. 

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Apple Fiscal Q3 2015

After the closing bell today, Apple announced results for fiscal third quarter, which largely is congruent with calendar Q2 (End date, April 27). Broadly: $49.6 billion in sales, $10.7 billion net income, and $1.85 earnings per share. Year over year, revenue rose 33 percent and EPS by 45 percent. Apple guidance before the big reveal: Between $46 billion and $48 billion revenue. Wall Street consensus was $49.31 billion sales and $1.81 EPS. The Street’s estimates ranged from $46.9 billion to $53.64 billion.

Gross margin reached 39.7 percent compared to 39.4 percent annually and 40.8 percent sequentially. Company guidance: 38.5 percent to 39.5 percent. Once again, international sales accounted for most of the quarter’s sales: 64 percent, which is up from 59 percent the previous year but down from 69 percent three months earlier. 

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What I Like About Apple Watch

In another universe, I don’t own Apple Watch. Either LG Watch Urbane or Moto 360 adorns my wrist. But in this one, I not only sold my soul to the bitten-fruit logo company but I grew to enjoy the servitude. Thirty-three days after purchasing the smartwatch, I can express satisfaction, even if sometimes muted, with the user experience.

I prefer Android Wear for its fantastic contextual utility, but find greater overall usability and positive emotional response from living with Apple Watch. As expressed in the previous post, I suspect that returns rates may be high for this device—at least compared to others that Apple produces. The real measure of any product’s success is: 1) Did you keep it?; 2) Do you use it?; 3) Do you enjoy it? 

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The Measure of Apple Watch Success is Percentage of Returns

Apple announces on Tuesday quarterly results that will for the first time include its wearable. Already, ahead of the big day, speculation soars about Apple Watch sales. Expect drama for sure, as CEO Time Cook explains how supply shortages constrained availability, leaving investors with more questions than answers.

I am more interested in data the company likely won’t reveal: return rates. I took back two. The first: I ordered online but sales started, after long delay, in the retail store before the device arrived. Rather than wait another week, I bought there and later returned the other, which the shop specialist sold seconds afterwards to a family that had come in looking for Apple Watch only to be told the Sport sold out. The second: A week later, I exchanged the aluminum timepiece for stainless steel. How many other people returned one for another because of taste or altogether because of dislike? The measure of Apple Watch success is percentage of returns. 

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Apple Watch (Stainless Steel) vs Sport (Aluminum)

After spending 7 days with Apple Watch Sport—and largely enjoying it—time comes to test the next pricier model. When trying to compare the two, I find very little useful from Internet searches. So a primer is in order for other folks also wondering: Which one is right for me? Ultimately, the best answer will come from going into an Apple Store (if there is one nearby) and putting the timepieces on your wrist.

Last week, I compared Android Wear and Apple Watch platforms, starting from the different design ethics behind them. Obviously, timepieces from the bitten-fruit logo company are more alike, with the main differences being materials, pricing, and target customers. Interestingly, the combinations offer subtle changes in benefits that will matter much to some shoppers. Henceforth, I will refer to the devices as Sport, for the aluminum model, and Apple Watch for the stainless steel sibling. 

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Android Wear vs Apple Watch

Last week, I had opportunity to use Apple Watch, making it third of the modern smart variety that I have experienced (the others being LG Urbane and Moto 360). The differences between the platforms are quite startling and worth highlighting. They begin with diverging design ethics derived from the fruit-logo company’s app-centric heritage and Google’s place in the cloud.

For people who use either Android handset or iPhone, existing device really determines what watch platform you choose, if any—that is for now. Down the path you go. But where it leads is somewhere else, not the same destination. One platform is more responsive to you in varying contextual situations. The other requires more direct interaction, but gives other benefits. 

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Shattered Dreams: When Apple Watch Falls From the Wrist

Saturday afternoon, new Apple Watch owner Ken Lecomte posted a frightening photo to Google+: His device with shattered screen. The spider-spray pattern is eerily familiar—one seen so many times—like an iPhone clumsily dropped to floor or pavement. The fruit-logo company boasts about the gadget being a wrist computer, but should it be as easily breakable as the other that customers carry?

I contacted him yesterday, and he shared his story, providing photos that also authenticate him as the watch’s owner. The problem with Ken’s story isn’t truthfulness but lies spun around it. Fanboyism is a cancer that spreads across any tale like his. Already, accusers flame his original post and others resharing it. Apple defenders are venomous. “I’ve been amazed with the amount of negativity”, he says. “It seems a lot of people just can’t believe that Apple could make a product that could break or have a design problem”.

Meanwhile, Apple critics call for label strapgate; there have been too many “gates” already. We don’t need another caustic moniker. In this toxic climate, legitimately aggrieved customers cannot easily step forward. The focus should be the device and whether there is a design flaw or owner error. 

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Moto 360 Review

A smartwatch by any other name is compromise. The question: How much are you willing to pay, if anything, for the privilege? No matter what any manufacturer promises, battery life will never be enough, particularly when daily recharging is the minimum requirement. If you use the wristwear as prescribed, no less is demanded, regardless of the device maker. None delivers daily use without sacrificing something.

Nearly all these mini-computers on the wrist aren’t smart enough. You need a phone, too. Is two of one and half-dozen of the other worth the trouble? The answer depends much on your lifestyle. If you text and drive, and can’t break the habit, a smartwatch could save your life or others. If your mobile handset feels like a ball and chain, adopting glance-and-go lifestyle can liberate you. But if your smartphone is practically surgically attached, for its frequent use, you shouldn’t add another tech accessory. If your phone battery often runs out, because you forget to plug in, don’t multiply your troubles. If you don’t wear a watch now, and haven’t for years, don’t bother.