Apple’s recent product launch in Cupertino was huge:
- iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, about which many leaks had already informed us
- Apple Watch, the previously rumored iWatch saw the light of day, though it cannnot be ordered until next year. Read about it in my next article here
- Two new ecosystems — which are the truly revolutionary part of the announcement — Apple Pay and HealthKit. I’ll tell you why these will be significant. Read about Apple Pay here
For a bit of irony…
These are the highest performing iPhones ever released. And as happens with each new iPhone announcement, a couple of days after the announcement pre-orders are available at midnight Cupertino time:
- Both Apple and the cellular carriers anticipate greater demand than the previous release
- They prepare their ordering systems for the increased load and staff up
- During the midnight “ordering storm” their systems melt down faster and worse than previous years
Even Apple’s ordering site was down for almost two and a half hours. The carriers faired no better than in years past: support lines were broken and escalation was delayed or nonexistent. I’m hearing of delivery dates for iPhone 6 Plus that are 2 months out even if you ordered within the first 15 minutes.
To put this in perspective, Apple had record sales with more than 4 million orders in the first 24 hours. The iPhone 5 launch only saw 2 million the first day. In the first weekend, Apple sold 10 million iPhone 6 units sold — a new record — while last year’s iPhone 5C/5S sold 9 million. And this year, China was not counted in the mix as Apple is still waiting on China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to approve the new model for network access. They’ll go on sale in China on October 17. In the run up before pre-orders there are reportedly 4 million reservations for iPhone 6 in China.
How does this compare to launch numbers for the Samsung Galaxy S phones?
I was interviewed by the local TV station KRDO on all things Apple, Mac, and especially iPhone. This interview was conducted the evening before the iPhone 6 went on sale at stores. I talked about my vintage 512kb Mac from 1985 and the iPhone 6 Plus in detail.
Are these products revolutionary? Historically Apple did not develop the first digital MP3 music player, smartphone, tablet or smartwatch. What Apple routinely does is watch other vendors deliver early and imperfectly, then comes out with significant innovations of high quality that capture the imagination of the buying public. The iPhone 6 is evolutionary, the Apple Watch could add a new level of legitimacy to smartwatches and wearables.
iPhone 6 Launch
The much anticipated and often rumored iPhone 6 and its big brother the iPhone 6 Plus have finally launched. “Bigger than bigger” Apple calls them and they are. At 4.7 and 5.5 diagonal inches respectively these are a far cry from the original 3.5 inch iPhone. How much bigger? Here’s a screenshot comparing the original iPhone pixel resolution, in the bottom left corner, to a screenshot from an iPhone 6 Plus. Note the difference in the number of pixels:
This puts the new iPhone 6’s in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy 5S and the Galaxy Note 4. This means better batteries, bigger displays, superior cameras, and better usability. When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone over seven years ago, he said it was: a music player, a phone, an internet communicator. These use cases have evolved: I find that I use my iPhone more for its internet communications capability — email, social media, web surfing — than either music player or phone.
Speaking of evolution, here’s a graphic of the changes in shape and size from the iPhone 2G to today’s iPhone 6 Plus.
Why is this iPhone 6 launch significant?
I expect “legs” on the sale of the new iPhones:
- Many current iPhone owners upgrade every two years, due to carrier subsidization rules, and wait for the full number upgrade, rather than the ones with a letter after it.
- Many new customers will jump at the chance to get a larger device — that’s made by Apple
- Many Android users who chose their device because it had a larger screen, may now be tempted to switch to Apple. Apple has a site explaining how to switch. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak admitted he’s getting rid of his Androids which he’d originally gotten for the larger screen.
Apple CEO Tim Cook claims that this is the “mother of all upgrades” and a recently released slide from an internal Apple presentation that was made public due to Apple’s suit against Samsung shows one reason why: where the growth in smartphone market is occurring: larger screens. In the US market carriers are devoting about a third of their shelf space to selling smartphones measuring 4.7 inches and larger. These devices account for more than a quarter of sales in Q2 of this year, up from only 2% in the same quarter two years ago, according to NPD.
Of the two new phones the iPhone 6 Plus will be the big game changer in my opinion. As a true “phablet” (phone+tablet) it has a battery nearly twice the power of the current iPhone 5S, a 3x resolution display that can feature some iPad twin-pane display apps like Mail, Notes and Messages in landscape orientation, an Optical Image Stabelization camera, and of course, the larger display. For people who carry both an iPhone and an iPad this could be a consolidating unit, a compromised iPad nano if you will. While Apple has not released a breakdown of the split for initial sales, I suspect they’ve sold more of the smaller iPhone 6 in the first weekend.
I believe this is due to availability. The Foxconn factory is employing 200,000 workers operating about 100 production lines in China and turning out 140,000 iPhone 6 Plus and 400,000 iPhone 6 daily. The iPhone 6 Plus production line is still ramping up. I’m hearing that inventory for the Plus is severely limited, with production yields currently of only 50-60% for the larger 5.5 inch display, while the smaller 4.7 inch display iPhone 6 is at better than 85%. When inventory becomes available I think we’ll see a surge in iPhone 6 Plus sales. People may buy it for the larger screen, or the greater battery capacity. Whether this will cannibalize sales of iPad mini or other small tablets remains to be seen. But these are “first world” issues.
What are the implications?
- In other markets like India and China — where some save money by purchasing a large smartphone in place of both a smaller cell phone and tablet or PC — the iPhone 6 Plus could address that need handily. Previously, large screen Android phones were the only solution. Apple could take off in these markets like never before.
- The final introduction of the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip in the iPhone 6 will open a new world for Apple and mobile payment transactions. The U.S. market alone is estimated by Forrester Research to hit $19 billion by 2017. While the NFC chip has been in other Android phones it never caught on big, for reasons we’ll discuss later in more detail here. For the present, hundreds of millions of people already have a credit card registered with Apple iTunes, and they’ll be able to participate immediately when Apple Pay opens later this month.
- The iPhone 6 camera has technology used in higher-end DSLR cameras. They can capture 180p high-def clips at 60 fps, do 240 fps slow-mo shots as well as cinematic still and video stabilization. There are already several iPhone film festivals. I no longer take my DSLR camera on vacations. And top tourist spots are already flooded with tourists taking selfies.
But what about the larger screens? Sure, Apple has introduced the Reachability feature, which scrolls the top of the screen down with a double-tap on the Home button. But what about those who have smaller hands?
I’m getting the new add-on…
the Apple thumb-extender procedure.
Thanks for coming along.