10 Takeaways From Apple's Big iPhone and Watch Event
The problems, the promise and unanswered questions
Apple's big event didn't disappoint. The presentation at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino was full of new gadgets and products for Apple enthusiasts. And while the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch stole the show, they weren't the only takeaways from the Sept. 9 bonanza.
Here The Hollywood Reporter breaks down the biggest lessons learned from the two-hour show.
This Is a New Apple
CEO Tim Cook took the reigns from the late Steve Jobs more than three years ago, but Tuesday's event signals that he's moving out from under Jobs' shadow. Apple's iconic co-founder was somewhat legendarily vocal about his dislike of bigger phones, yet Cook has relented to customer demand, launching a big iPhone 6 and an even larger iPhone 6 Plus. Cook's other big announcement — the unveiling of the Apple Watch — also marks the first major product launch since Job's death in 2011.
... But It's the Same Old Apple
Much of the two-hour event played like an homage to Jobs and the legacy that he built in Cupertino. The Flint Center was the site of a Jobs-led iMac launch back in 1999, and the iPhone 6 Plus name calls back to the Macintosh Plus. But perhaps more importantly, Cook tipped his hat to Jobs when he uttered his mentor's signature catchphrase to set up the Apple Watch introduction: "One more thing ... "
Apple's Not Sweating Celebrity Photo Leaks
Cook kept the audience focused on Apple's new products instead of discussing the recent celebrity nude photo leak that has allegedly been linked to the company's iCloud service. Apple already released a statement denying responsibility for the hack that allowed NSFW photos of actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton to spread across the internet, instead blaming the leak on social engineering that allowed unsavory individuals to take hold of specific iCloud accounts. On Monday, Apple began a new practice of sending email alerts when a user's iCloud account was accessed, part of a multistep plan to beef up security. But the only time security was mentioned on Tuesday was in relation to new products. For example, software and services senior vp Eddy Cue stressed the security features built into the new Apple Pay.
The Big Wearables Question Remains Unanswered
With Samsung, Motorola, and smaller players like Fitbit and Pebble all in the wearables game, the outstanding question has been: Why would consumers want to carry around one more electronic device? It's a problem that plagued both the smartphone and tablet markets, but with the iPhone and iPad, respectively, Apple was able to answer that question in a satisfying way — and millions upon millions of units sold as a result. Despite an assortment of features, including everything from fitness tracking to notifications and music playback, Apple didn't quite pull off the same trick with its Apple Watch presentation. The product doesn't launch until early in 2015, so Cupertino's certainly got time to convince potential customers why they should shell out $349 for the device, but without tackling this fundamental question it's not clear how big of a phenomenon the Apple Watch can truly be.
Go Big or Go Home
Following in the footsteps of its Android competitors, Apple has jumped aboard the big phone trend with the iPhone 6, which has a 4.7-inch screen. That's 17 percent larger than the 4-inch display on the 5S. Then there's the iPhone 6 Plus, an even larger phone with a 5.5-inch display. The Apple Watch also comes in two sizes.
Apple Pay Leverage
A number of companies — including Google — have attempted to own the digital wallet space, but none of the products have reached mass adoption. That's where Apple comes in. Although the tech giant is late to the mobile payments game, it has launched Apple Pay with some serious swagger. The service will link to iTunes, which already stores more than 800 million credit cards, so that new users can immediately begin making purchases. Apple is also working with merchants such as Disney, Whole Foods and McDonalds to ensure that Apple Pay will work at many major retail locations out of the gate — because a digital wallet that's not accepted anywhere isn't going to be much use to anyone.
The Beats No-Show
Apple closed its $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics on Aug. 1, but stayed relatively mum about the high-profile purchase during the big event — despite the fact that the company's September events have usually been the place they show off their music-oriented accomplishments. Cue gave a wink to the company during his presentation on Apple Pay, showing that customers could use the service to make online purchases (like a pair of Beats headphones) from Target.com. The Beats Music streaming service also got a shout out when Cook announced that the new U2 album would be available for free on Apple's music services — but when it came to the presentation itself, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine never took the stage.
Your Watch is Your New iPod
Although not highlighted during the event, the Apple Watch product page reveals that the device can be used to control music playback on an owner's iPhone, but can also be used to play back music all on its own. It's the type of feature that could make the Watch perfect for joggers — and continue to make music-only devices like the iPod obsolete. Never afraid to cannibalize its own products, Apple certainly seems to realize the trend. It hasn't announced a new iPod since 2012, and now appears to have discontinued the iPod Classic altogether: The device is no longer being sold on the Apple website.
Worst Video Stream Ever
Enthusiasts and journalists alike trying to watch the Apple video live stream were disappointed when the feed — which could only be viewed from the Apple TV or on Apple's own Safari browser — proved to be ... problematic. At various points the live stream wouldn't load, timed out or showed the video feed dubbed with Chinese and Japanese translations. Let's hope downloading that free U2 album is a little easier.
Hollywood Still Loves Apple
There's no denying it. Celebrities love Apple and the iPhone, and they weren't afraid to show it Tuesday. A number of entertainment luminaries attended the event, including Beats founder Dre, friend Gwen Stefani and a tiny Irish band called U2. Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon even shilled for the iPhone 6 with two promotional spots aired during the event.