I Shall Now Make My Apple Event Predictions!

I always like to make my predictions AFTER the fact. Improves accuracy. Yet I’m still bound to get a few things wrong.

You can only predict things after they have happened. ~ Eugene Ionesco

Truth be told, I’m working on some massive articles regarding the Apple Event and they’re just not done. I simply haven’t been able to absorb the information yet and I’d rather do it right than do it now.

I’m finding it impossible to keep up with the research in my field” (said every researcher ever throughout history). ~ David Smith (@drs1969)

So I thought I’d fill this week’s column with my quick takes on last Tuesday’s Apple Event.


Surprises? Not So Much.

Lots of leaks. Few surprises.

Sales Projections

Expected sales? AT&T said that iPhone 6 demand was “off the charts” and Apple has confirmed the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus crushed earlier preorder records. So how many are they going to sell?

My official answer to how many iPhones Apple will sell in the holiday quarter— crap tons. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

Average Sales Price

Apple is selling its base mode iPhone with 16 gigabytes  of storage and its mid-tier iPhone with 64 gigabytes of storage. Further, the iPhone 6 Plus starts $100 higher than all previous iPhone models did before it.

Apple has 10% of handset sales, high-end Android another 10% and the rest of Android a further 40% (& growing). Guess which Apple targeted. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

A weird thing is about to happen. The Average Sales Price of the iPhone is about to go UP! That’ll put a real dent in the “iPhone” is a commodity theory.

The iPhone Is A Commodity Claim Chowder

With all things tech, fused products and commoditization are inevitable markers of the product cycle. The iPhone 5 will be Apple’s last hurrah as competitors increasingly gain ground. ~ Kofi Bofah, Onyx Investments, 29 August 2012

As the mobile phone market increasingly offers more quality phones at a range of price points, Apple now faces a difficult choice. Does it try to remain a premium product-premium price company, or does it dive into the commoditized lower priced arena? Neither choice is very appealing. ~ Bob Chandler, Motley Fool, 2 May 2013

I’m guessing the choice to go premium wasn’t as tough as old Bob here imagined it to be.

Phones and tablets are inevitably following computers into commoditization. ~ Peter Nowak, MacLeans.ca, 28 January 2013

The iPhone as a commodity. That’s really all Apple’s iStuff is — an enormous and very profitable fad. It’s the Pet Rock of the new millennium. ~ Anders Bylund, Motley Fook, 6 Mar 2012



Here’s a couple of miscellaneous thoughts for you all to chew upon as you wait for me to finish my research and publish my Magnum Opus on the Apple Event:

It’s still a common mistake to see smartphones (and even phones) as a luxury. In fact, their value is inversely proportionate to income. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 8/15/14

More people on earth have a mobile phone than a street address. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)


There’s been a lot of talk of late about tablets diminishing in importance. I don’t see it that way. To me, phones and tablets are just one big continuum — they’re all tablets. But that’s an article for another day.



Platform building is one of the hardest things in tech. A payment platform requires simultaneous adoption by 1) Banks; 2) Retailers; and 3) Consumers. It took years and years and years for credit cards to finally gain critical mass and they were mocked all along the way.

How do you stop a charging Rhino? You take away its credit card.

And many digital payment schemes have come and gone without consumers even noticing.

Only here’s the thing. Apple makes platform building — the hardest thing in tech — look easy. Take a gander at some of the ads that appeared on the very day of the Pay announcement:




Some people say Apple is late to the NFC party. But until Apple showed up, NFC was a wake, not a party.

It will take years for this to play out, but I believe Apple has already pushed digital payments past the tipping point. Pay is a done deal. Once we’re using our phones (and watches) to make payments, it will change the way retail looks and works forever.

Never underestimate the impact of the law of unexpected consequences. ~ Harvey B. Mackay


On his ‘Critical Path’ podcast, Horace Dediu expressed surprise at Apple’s move from i-everything to -everything branding. I am surprised by his surprise.

iNames, RIP. ~ John Gruber (@gruber)

The “i” Brand was misnamed from the start (not that it matters to a brand). It originally stood for “i”nternet in the iMac and now it’s simply a nonsensical way of knowing it is made by Apple. Apple is moving into an era where they need consumers to know the product or service was made by Apple. “iPay” would have been generic. Pay is anything but generic. The  branding is both a name and a logo and the  will put Apple’s brand in your face — which is right where Apple wants it to be.


Mea Culpa

I thought the Apple Watch would be more of a wrist band, less of watch. I was very concerned about battery life, so I thought the Apple wearable might have no screen. I was wrong.

Apple went the fashion route. Now, the fact Apple made all those fashion hires should have been telling me something. But I wasn’t able to put 2 + 2 together. It’s not the first time I’ve been wrong about Apple and it most certainly won’t be the last.


A lot of the post-Apple Event discussion on the Watch has been around whether Apple provided the “why”. “Why should I buy this?” “Why does this product even exist?” My favorite take on this so far is by Ben Thompson at Stretechery: “APPLE WATCH: ASKING WHY AND SAYING NO“.

I agree with most of Ben’s article but I have some serious issues with a couple of the details. I hope to write a too long article about this in the not terribly distant future.

What’s Next

Here’s a rough outline of the series of articles I’m working on:

  1. The Why Of The Watch
  2. Steve Jobs On Category Creation
  3. Category Mistakes We Makes
  4. Knee Jerk Objections
  5. Lessons Unlearned
  6. Watch Use Cases
  7. Watch User Interface
  8. First Generation Issues
  9. Fashion Issues
  10. Price Issues

All topics are subject to change.

Change is inevitable, except from vending machines. ~ Anonymous

I hope to have the articles done before Watch 2.0 comes on the market in 2016.


Rest assured, the Watch is no hobby. Tim Cook used the “one more thing” line to announce the Watch. He called it the “Next Chapter” in Apple’s story. And it was announced by Tim Cook himself. If the Watch fails to become a category, it won’t be due to any lack of effort on Apple’s part.


Apple’s Wheelhouse

Keep the following in mind. As things get smaller, design matters more. And as design matters more, Apple’s expertise in design matters more.

I love how people say a big company can just ‘get good’ at design – they’d never say that about search or AI or big data in the same way. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Further, as things get more personal, fashion matters more. And fashion is an alien concept to most tech companies (and to most tech observers, like you and me). Apple is way, way ahead of most companies in design. And they seem to have “stolen a march” on most companies when it comes to fashion, too. Apple’s wearable products will never achieve mass adoption. However, Apple seems willing to settle for massive admiration (and massive profits) instead.

The most expensive Apple Watch will cost more than the most expensive iPhone which will cost more than most PCs. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

Claim Chowder, Redux

Finally, I’ll end with some delicious claim chowder. Enjoy!

I was talking recently to someone who knew Apple well, and I asked him if the people now running the company would be able to keep creating new things the way Apple had under Steve Jobs. His answer was simply ‘no.’ I already feared that would be the answer. I asked more to see how he’d qualify it. But he didn’t qualify it at all. No, there will be no more great new stuff beyond whatever’s currently in the pipeline. ~ Paul Graham, March 2012

(W)hy are people losing their faith in the money-making machine that is Apple? Maybe it’s because they’ve done it all. What is there left for Apple to do? ~ ~ Emily Knapp, Wall St Cheat Sheet, 24 May 2011


Published by

John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

45 thoughts on “I Shall Now Make My Apple Event Predictions!”

  1. Your title had me spraying out my coffee. Well played!

    Cook is continuing Apple’s tradition of being a great deal maker. I agree they will mainstream mobile payments. Presumably, they will be mainstreamed for everybody else using NFC as well. This does advance the industry over all, but though business, not technical, means.

    The further tightening of the ecosystem cuts both ways. It’s both lock-in and lock-out. It’s not all roses, both have bad consequences for the customer. For instance, if an HP printer could only work with an HP computer, that would be damning. Let’s see how this plays out, but if Pay and Watch are “Apple only”, that would be a highly limiting situation. Oh yes, they’ll make a ton of money, but I’m looking at this through the filter of my pocket and I’m not a financial stakeholder.

    The Watch and Pay bring zero new functionality to the party. They DO bring ubiquity. Some would argue they also bring style. That’s too personal a point to debate.

    I agree with Brian Hall. Apple does not play well with others. It suits them extremely well, but is limiting in the end.

    1. The Watch and Pay bring zero new functionality to the party. – klahanas

      Convenience is extremely valuable. People are willing to pay a LOT for convenience.

      1. And convenience can be seen in aggregate: Save one click a day over 100 million devices. Everything Apple does scales. Or does not.

    2. “but if Pay and Watch are “Apple only”, that would be a highly limiting situation”

      At the same time, it opens up many opportunities for other companies, as it has since the Mac.


  2. I read the stratechery piece when it was posted (in my RSS – yes I still use RSS).

    I largely agree. Apple didn’t really sell the Why this time. When I saw the iPhone presentation, I was telling everyone at work that it was world changing, which should have generated more buzz at work (we were developing CDMA base stations).

    I felt the same when I saw the iPad presentation. I knew right away why I wanted one.

    But the Apple Watch (or any other smartwatch), not at all. If you gave me a free one, I doubt I could come up with use case strong enough to get me to wear it:Today.

    But a decade from now. I can imagine a wrist device that I would love to have. I could leave my wallet and my cellphone at home. I could exchange messages with my friends via the watch. I could pay for anything I need. I could unlock/start my car. It could function as my transit pass, security card for building access.

    In short it could replace everything I have to carry today from wallet, phone, to car keys and security passes. That I think is coming and it will be a must have for nearly everyone.

    I think Apple is the company with the clout to actually make more and more of those pieces fall into place.

    But today, I have no use for a smart-watch of any kind.

    1. I actually think that Ben was slightly wrong. The iPad and Watch presentations were more alike than they were dissimilar. But my contention requires proof and I’m writing an article on just this topic.

      1. They certainly didn’t have the same effect. A tablet became a must have. Where I wouldn’t pay $50 to buy an Apple Watch (excluding the sell it someone for more case).

        Perhaps the presentations have more in common, but where one has a solid current use case, the other really doesn’t.

        It is harder to sell a dubious use case.

          1. I am not forgetting anything. I was only speaking to my personal reaction.

            A swath of tech media makes a living panning “everything” Apple does, which is evidently known, because you constantly make examples of them.

            To get a real sense you would need some kind of rigorous random polling after both events, to gauge an independent unbiased reaction.

            As I said. I don’t see a real use case there today to warrant my ownership, but I expect one will eventually emerge. iPad had immediate use cases that made them desirable to me.

            One somewhat related front. I am reaching peak gadget charging. I am getting tired of trying to keep mp3 player/tablet/phone/reader batteries from going flat. Really not interested in adding another category.

          1. A tablet is mainly a consumption device for me. Internet/Magazines/Books/Comics were immediate obvious ones the moment I watched the first iPad presentation.

            Tablets are a superior way to consume IMO, enough so that they are worth the cost. I would never really read comics/magazines/books on my PC, it is just the wrong form factor for me. Now I do a lot (pretty much every day).

            It wasn’t that they do anything that you can’t do on a PC/Laptop, it’s that they make it enjoyable, rather than a chore, that is what came across in the first iPad presentation, and that is what has held true in my usage.

    2. Apple did tell us why. But the why is not obvious to us cus’ it’s not backed up with immediate and satisfying results. The why? Two whys: Payments and HealthKit.

      With the iPod, Apple put the horse before the cart. Mobile tunes were bursting and exploding. A horse that Apple hitched its cart to. With the iPhone and iPad, Apple put the cart first. But a whole new mobile medium, apps, came to the rescue. With Apple TV, the cart is still waiting for the horse to get off its …. my metaphor is failing fast.

      Mobile cash and mobile diagnosis are not yet pullers. Like Apple TV, Apple wants to be there when they become pullers.

      So altho’ Apple named the whys, there is no why today in the sense of a huge motivational pull on us.

    3. “I doubt I could come up with use case strong enough to get me to wear it:Today.”

      This. Usually in the past, Apple has come late to the party with a clearly superior/friendlier product (eg, macbook air in the ultraportable space). They sell a ton of devices and turn a tiny niche into a mainstream thing. This time Apple is just as early to the party as everyone else, but everyone launching S-watches is doing so with technology that’s clearly not ready yet, whether you’re looking at battery life or the question of “what the heck is this *for*”. This kind of premature jumping on a bandwagon is nothing new in the tech industry — Microsoft Tablet PCs, anyone? But it’s unusual to see Apple be one of the ones issuing premature devices.

      Apple has launched a product too early a few times before (G4 cube, Apple Newton). In the past, they closed down the product after realizing their mistake and waited five or ten years for the tech to mature sufficiently to make what they were trying to achieve (mini computer, tablet computer) be more practical. This time it looks like they’re going to stick with it and iterate until they get to where they need to be.

      So I think the first 3 or so generations of Apple Watches are going to be lacklustre products that sell modestly and fail to take off. Which means they’ll sell a few million of them a year and make maybe half a billion or so dollars a year off them – peanuts for apple, but a runaway bestseller compared to every other S-watch maker.

    1. “I am looking forward to reading your articles when they are published.” – Imagebloke b

      Yeah, me too.

      “Writing is thinking on paper.” ~ William Zinsser

      “Brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio. (When I try to be brief, I become unclear.)” ~ Horace

      1. “Brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio. (When I try to be brief, I become unclear.)”

        Interesting. For me, clarity only emerges through boiling to conciseness. But perhaps brief here means “quick”. Then I’d agree.

  3. “Further, as things get more personal, fashion matters more. And fashion is an alien concept to most tech companies (and to most tech observers, like you and me). Apple is way, way ahead of most companies in design. And they seem to have “stolen a march” on most companies when it comes to fashion, too.”

    Truer words were never said. I was reviewing my posts all over cyberspace and as early as 3/13 I was saying that Apple’s smart watch has to be as much a high fashion item as a technology device. And to succeed, it has to excel in both aspects. Why I thought wearables is a very attractive proposition is that by taking the high fashion route, Apple can go where no other tech company can follow. Apple is the only tech brand that has the cachét to play in the same sandbox as the Guccis and Chanels of the world.

    “Apple’s wearable products will never achieve mass adoption. However, Apple seems willing to settle for massive admiration (and massive profits) instead.”

    Yes, they will not sell nearly as many Watches as they do iPhones, but there is a potential for massive improvement if they are able change habits and preferences, admittedly very hard to do. For mass adoption the watch has to offer a feature that is irresistible to a wide swath of iPhone owners. I don’t think it has one yet. But that’s just me thinking, I’m no expert. If a single irresistible feature is just not in the offing, another approach is to offer a still wider range of models and styles. More case designs, water resistant to 200 meters, co-branded designer one-offs, etc. Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate like a true watch company does. And sell more than one Watch to customers customers.

    Who knows how things turn out? All I know is it will be interesting.

    1. I suspect the payments thing is about to explode and the short message thing will probably take off as well with the Watch. We’ve had the PayWave system for a bit over a year here, and while I initially resisted (if the banks want me to do thus, it must be bad for us), I get instantly annoyed now if it doesn’t work and I have to insert the chip, locate the correct account button (does every shop have a different machine?), use the right pin, find that I’m not pressing the friggin flaky buttons properly, do it all again, including the merchant reentering details…..aaarrrggghh, forget the whole thing dammit. Did I mention picking the wrong card? Signing was so much simpler, anywho, I suspect waving the Watch, or even phone, could be a killer app.
      I’m also beginning to like the idea of choosing high end watch faces any time…..I fancy. I quite like some of the expensive watch designs, but you’d have to be an idiot or wanker to buy one. They’re as much of an “investment” as the whole diamond scam. I have a perfectly serviceable Eco citizen that works fine.
      I’m coming around to the Switzerland is ******* idea, but I can’t see myself paying more than $300ish for the stainless series (with a nice band).

      1. I use a $17 watch, for five years now, I just get the battery replaced when needed for five bucks. I agree, the Apple Watch is going to be about payments, identity, communication, and plenty of use cases we can’t imagine yet. I’m impressed by how much computing power Apple packed into version 1 of this thing. I’ll probably wait for version 2 though, I’m not an early adopter. I’ve got some ideas of what I’d like to do with the Watch, so I’ll wait and see if it measures up. I suspect it will. I also waited and bought an iPad 2.

  4. “To me, phones and tablets are just one big continuum — they’re all tablets.” Spot on. It’s about real estate: Some are farms; others, brownstones. And I guess the Watch is a condo.

  5. Tech.pinions told John Kirk his articles have become too long and in the future he can’t exceed 100,000 words. John said “No way! If I keep them that short I won’t even be able to include the first Steve Jobs quote!”

  6. “To me, phones and tablets are just one big continuum — they’re all tablets”

    I often say the screen is the computer. We make our buying decision based on the screen size that best fits our needs. I would have to agree with your take on this. It’ll be interesting to see if/how this impacts the iPad. Maybe not all that much as I expect larger screen iPads soon as well.

    On the watch, I also expected a simpler band device, but perhaps as Apple worked on the device they realized they could actually do a pretty good wrist computer in version 1 and decided to go all in.

    1. I don’t want to take credit for the pop tart. The picture was circulating on the internet and I too loved the imagery.

  7. “What is there left for Apple to do?” Wow, no imagination there! How about Bank, Car, Jetpack, Space Elevator? Reach for the stars!

  8. Yes, it is interesting to see what troll reporters have to predict on the negative side about Apple. But negative, however it is dressed, is not enlightening.
    I do look forwards to the next series which sounds promising in forecast and most likely enlightening.
    Namaste and care,

    1. Although I’ve been informed of the problem, I appreciate the heads up. I was unaware of the issue until late thismorning. I’m taking care not to use the Apple Logo Image in future writing.

  9. John. Don’t ya think that the kurfufil about the watch is missing a non obvious issue about the IBM connection? Apple pay with the new watches and phones with Corporate America could be the glue for business. Just think security. Just imagine frictionless transactions and maybe most importantly, accountability! Now there is a package worthy of Apple joining with both consumers AND corporate in a phone and a phone.

    btw, I really enjoy your writing.

    1. Interesting idea, krabbie. I never viewed it from that angle, but I’ll give it another look.

      btw, I really enjoy your compliment 🙂

  10. First of all, John, one thing I really love with your articles is that you are very consistent and always stay true to yourself, you are a long time Apple user and know very well the value of their product to make your case against the critics instead of pretending, as others are doing, which is probably why you Articles are often the most commented.

    Second – you owe me a congratulation because when it comes to Apple’s watch, you and I had a very long and strong debat about it being a bracelet or a watch and I was right and you were wrong so I deserve your congratulation Loll

    Third – You also owe an excuse to Android wear users after having ridiculed their product, and the SmartWatches industry knowing now that you will have to change your tune because of Apple Watch which as we all know by now is not that better or revolutionary,

    Besides i cannot wait to read your opinion on this to disagree with you

      1. Not at All
        John Kirk loves to prove that Apple’s critics are wrong, just as I love to prove him wrong when it come to Android, so for him to admit he was wrong will be a clear sign of respect and honesty that i found to be rare among analysis like him these days.

    1. “you will have to change your tune because of Apple Watch which as we all know by now is not that better or revolutionary”

      Why? Because it is a “watch” form factor and not a bracelet?

      I don’t think we do yet know how revolutionary it is or isn’t. Apple has put a new SoC (the “S1” on it), and it seems to run iOS. It also seems to have wifi. I think Apple is expecting developers to do great things with it, some of which should be ready when the Apple Watch is ready to ship.

  11. Regarding the Apple brand, in the past other companies could get away with using the i for their non computer products, for example with an iToaster. The Apple symbol in the brand name is going to prevent that sort of thing. This means the new branding should be less confusing in the long run.

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