Three Key Takeaways From Apple’s Fall Unveiling

Tim Bajarin / October 22nd, 2013

When Apple introduced their new products today, it left little doubt that they are in an evolutionary period of their product cycles.

Yes, the new iPad Air is a great design, thinner, lighter and more powerful but still pretty much in the same basic form factor. The new iPad Mini now has the Retina display, a technology that has been in MacBooks and the iPad for some time but is a welcome upgrade to this popular tablet. They also now have Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip, making them the fastest tablets available this fall.

The MacBook Pro 15-inch breaks new ground by using Intel’s latest Crystalwell chips, the most powerful and energy efficient mobile processor on the market. The extended graphics in this model give it new powers that will make Apple’s high end customers drool.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro gets the newest Intel Haswell chip, which means both new laptops will get better battery life and still deliver very powerful solutions to business and consumers.

And OS X Mavericks, with its 200 new features and offered as a free upgrade to all Mac customers will be a big hit. With it being free there is no reason for anyone with a Mac to not upgrade and give themselves the immense power that OS X Maverick can deliver to them.

There were some strategic ommisions too. Neither tablet had Apple’s new fingerprint security technology inside although I suspect that this is more due to the fact that all of their fingerprint modules are going into iPhone 5S and getting enough units to use in their tablets was not an option yet.

Some had thought they would also do a special keyboard cover/case but I never thought that that would happen. The key reason is that there are dozens of those on the market already and unless they could do one that was spectacularly innovative, sleek and unique, they would not enter this space. Rather they would put more time and energy in advancing the technology and capabilities of the iPad and MacBook Pro’s this time around.

I also saw three very nuanced yet extremely strategic things shown at the event that are really worth noting.

1-Giving the new iPad the Air designation.

I don’t think this is an accident. More and more people are using the iPad like a laptop when they attach a keyboard to them. I use my iPad with the Logitech keyboard cover all the time and for all intents and purposes this has been my convertible or 2-in-1 like those now showing up on the Windows platform. While Apple has not embraced this convertible or 2-in-1 idea, it is clear to me they understand the potential of a product like this and could easily create their own unique branded version of this concept in the future. Giving the iPad the Air designation could set this up in the mind of consumers and business users by getting them to think of the iPad Air more like a laptop in the sense that it can be used for productivity as well as consumption. This leads to the second point worth noting.

2-The iPads now have PC class processors in them.

Putting their A7 64-bit processor in the iPads can also be seen as strategic. While both tablets are still skewed towards consumption, the new iPad Air, like the other larger iPads, will be of greater interest to business and IT given their faster speeds and overall upgraded performance. This could be a big deal when it comes to IT purchases. While refreshing tablets has been rapid compared to laptops, the upper end tablets with LTE and 64 gigs of memory are pricey and are now looked at for longer life cycles in the enterprise. With the fastest processor and the great software that will be written for 64-bit IOS 7, the new iPad Air will be even more attractive to IT directors that want to future proof their tablet purchases. Even with the lower system memory, the 64-bit processor will be viewed by business users much more positively than the current crop of 32-bit processors in all other tablets being considered by IT today. At the very least it will get Apple even more attention in these markets and help them grow the iPad business in the enterprise.

3-Software was almost more important than the hardware announcements

OS X upgrade is free. Updated apps like Garageband, Pages, Keynote, Numbers and many more Apple suite products are now free. And many of the apps look and act exactly the same and are synched in the iCloud identically so that users can’t even tell if they are using a Mac app or a IOS app unless they look down and see what device their are using. All of these push Apple’s software prowess into the forefront and give them an even greater edge over Android and Windows 8.1 especially when it comes to tablets. Don’t underestimate how important the software announcements made today are to Apple’s over competitive position. This is a big deal for them and their competitors.

While some people will be disappointed that these products are evolutionary, not revolutionary, keep in mind that Apple does advance products as part of their upgrade cycle and this is a key year for that. However, given the rumors that they are working on an iWatch, a new Apple TV and perhaps one other disruptive product I am hearing might be in the works, I suspect that 2014 will be an even more interesting year for Apple.

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.
  • 1. Here is what I saw — Only 1 company in the world has a complete line of: phone, tablet, laptop/desktop computers that “users can’t even tell if they are using a Mac app or a IOS app”.

    Microsoft — phone and tablet with laptops/desktops made by others and a great deal of software compatibility
    Samsung — phone and tablet and no control over the operating system (android) on them and no compatibility with their laptops/desktops (windows)
    HP — no phone, no tablet
    Dell — no phone, no tablet
    Lenovo – no phone, but tablets (android) and lapstops/desktops (windows)

    2. General consumer-grade software is free.
    Microsoft can have the data center.

    • Defendor

      The ecosystem coverage is interesting. Though really the players aren’t the HW makers but the OS/Service providers IMO. But I do see Apple having stronger overall ecosystem coverage than anyone else.

      I see it this way:

      Microsoft:
      Phone: Weak
      Tablet: Weak
      Desktop/Laptop: Extremely strong
      Living Room/TV: Strong

      Google:
      Phone: Very Strong
      Tablet: Medium-Getting stronger
      Desktop/Laptop: Very weak (or non-existent)
      Living Room/TV: Very weak

      Apple:
      Phone: Very Strong
      Tablet: Very Strong
      Desktop/Laptop: Strong
      Living Room/TV: Hobby.

      Amazon:
      Tablet: Kind of strong.
      Everything else nonexistent.

      • FalKirk

        Interesting take, as always, Defendor. I may “liberate” some of your comment for my article, tomorrow.

    • obarthelemy

      Actually, no. There are Android laptops and desktops, with the added benefit that they use the exact same OS, as opposed to the iOS/MacOS fragmentation.

  • Space Gorilla

    I agree with davebarnes here, Apple is the only company that provides a complete range of computing products, from pocket to desktop, all plugged into an ecosystem and all well supported. I’ve been saying this for a long, long time. I also called the name months ago, iPad Air, and it’s obvious an iPad Pro is coming at some point in 11 and 13 inch sizes. I’ve been thinking Apple would also do a hybrid device at some point, but the third party keyboard market is so robust now I think Apple will just make the iPad and let others handle the hardware keyboard aspect. Of course the general reaction to today’s event will be “Apple is doooooooomed!” When has Apple not been doomed?

    • obarthelemy

      Not so true though:
      1- there’s fragmentation between iOS and MacOS
      2- Apple don’t provide much choice within each category. Missing are cheap anything (phones, tablets, desktops, laptops), gaming desktops and laptops, large phones…

      Apple provide luxury products for all segments, but no cheap nor gaming ones, mostly.

      • Space Gorilla

        Sorry you don’t find Apple products inexpensive. Maybe get a better job?

        • obarthelemy

          “Sorry you don’t find Apple products inexpensive. Maybe get a better job?”

          The other thing is, if being an Apple customer implies making or condoning this kind of comments and attitude, many people will actively avoid them. Rightly so. See comment below, too.

  • qka

    The iPad is 64 bit.

    Windows is, by and large, still 32 bit.

    Enough said.

    • Lame. I have Windows 8.1 64-bit running under VMWare on my iMac. 64 bit.

      • steve_wildstrom

        Windows 8.1 continues to exist in 64- and 32-bit versions and some of the lamer Atom processors still being used in hybrids or Windows 8 tablets do not support 64.

        It’s possible that the majority of Windows installations in use are 32-bit because of the continued prevalence of Windows XP–I haven’t seen any data on this. The overwhelming majority of new systems are 64-bit.

    • obarthelemy

      Indeed: people don’t care about 64 bits per se. performance and features, but not 64-bitness.

  • Ellen

    I was shocked to hear that some people thought the iPad expensive compared to the amazon and google tablets. These silly dirtpeople should get off the dole and get a job lol. The iPad is a best in class device that is worth the price.

    • obarthelemy

      Depends what for: it’s best in class at looking good and lording over your friends (which you seem to be an adept of), but it lacks many features (pen, expendable storage, windowing, both-ways remoting…) that are useful to many.

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