'I am obviously getting one': industry reacts to the iPhone 6, iWatch and Apple Pay

The launch of the iPhone6 models, the Apple Watch and Apple Pay set the industry abuzz. Marketing rounds up the industry reaction to yesterday's big reveal.

'I am obviously getting one': industry reacts to the iPhone 6, iWatch and Apple Pay

Click on name to jump to: 

Justin Cooke, founder and chief executive of Tunepics

Rafe Blandfordmobile strategist, DigitasLBi

James Hart, strategy director, Carat

Marc Curtis, head of TMW Labs, TMW

Dave Wallace, chief executive Heath Wallace

Eric Dahan, chief executive, InstaBrand

Enzo Annunziata, innovation director, Vizeum

'The possibilities with Apple Watch are endless'

I think yesterday's announcement was incredibly exciting. While it's been rumoured for a long time that Apple has been working on a watch, I think the execution in both the design, wearability and functionality are exceptional, says Justin Cooke, founder and chief executive of Tunepics.

Apple's next level of in its journey will be to transcend its devices into every facet of our lives

I've always believed in, and championed, digital emotion; it's something we focus on very deeply at Tunepics and we're already working on areas where we can capture people's emotion and share that with other users in real time.

The possibilities with Apple Watch are endless for us. Imagine listening to a Tunepic and knowing how you've impacted the heart rate of someone else listening to it, or being able to share that song across a room knowing that it was a moment between you and another person.

That’s where physical and digital merge and it's a line I find fascinating. Unquestionably, the company has gone about hiring experts from fashion and retail, particularly Angela Ahrendts - who I know well and is now the SVP of retail - is an absolute genius and a mastermind behind how to build a brand.

Apple's next level of its journey will be to transcend its devices into every facet of our lives and you can see this already with Apple Pay and Watch. Soon they will be completely integrated into everything we do - the possibilities are endless. 

While it will undoubtedly take time for them to become mass in the market, I imagine Apple will have a pretty aggressive strategy around how they connect with retailers globally especially in the fashion space.

I can imagine walking past a Cartier store in the airport and seeing an Apple Watch hub right beside it so they are sitting not just with the competition but the market leaders in the watch industry. I'm very excited to see it all unfold.

‘More opportunities to add Value'

A perfect storm of new iPhones, the debut of Apple Pay, and a smartwatch, Apple’s first in this category, means Apple had its strongest and far-reaching autumn event for years, says Rafe Blandford, mobile strategist, DigitasLBi.

The bigger screens, choice of sizes, camera and imagery refinements, and changes in iOS 8 are largely defensive moves by Apple, responding to trends driven by competing manufacturers. Even so, Apple continues to give its own unique spins to "new" innovations, most notably with accessory embracing HealthKit and HomeKit and new cross-platform features, such as rich notifications and continuity.

The bigger state change is the removal of friction from app-based commerce on the phone

What this means for brands is that we now have more opportunities to add value and we need to work harder to find the right "moments" we can own. A moment could be around a specific need (e.g., to find a bar and meet friends) or a specific context (e.g., you’re just waking up at home). The key is to find moments that your brand can be relevant in, by being useful, entertaining or better still, both. Marketers need to create experiences that are native to the moment and the context not just the form factor.

Apple Pay will help drive increased contactless payment on the high-street, but the bigger state change is the removal of friction from app-based commerce on the phone. Apple Pay integration really is a no brainer for any app that carries out a financial transaction. It will increase the conversion rate of users who might otherwise have abandoned at checkout due to security concerns or frustration with the difficulty of data-entry. Significantly, Apple will not be charging for the use of Apple Pay, contrasting sharply with the 30% cut that Apple takes App Store enabled in-app purchases.

For the time being Apple Pay’s feature set for retailers is relatively skinny, with no announcements around loyalty, store card integration, or targeting functionality, traditionally associated with mobile payment services. It’s also worth bearing in mind that at launch Apple Pay will only be available in the US, with a global roll out taking time and effort due to complex regulatory and implementation requirements.

The Apple Watch generated the biggest buzz and it features everything you would expect from a smartwatch in terms of notifications and reminders, but also has a bigger emphasis on apps than its competitors potentially offering more opportunities for marketers to have more intimate moments with consumers. While more polished, it is still a first generation product and consequently the emphasis must be on experimentation and prototype experiences. Brands must work to integrate Apple Watch into existing digital roadmaps. The Apple Watch should be a clarion call for screens on your wrist as a whole.

I’m not sure they’ve really delivered the game changing leaps in mobile technology I was hoping for’

It's not cool to get excited about new technology from Apple these days, says Marc Curtis, head of TMW Labs, TMW.  I think we've seen too many news items where the smirking reporter interviews a man who's been camping outside the Apple Store for 3 days to buy the new iPhone - no one wants to be that guy. 

Consumers will no doubt feel more confident about the owning wearable technology now that Apple are bringing it to the mainstream

So many of my conversations about the impending Apple event have been along the lines of 'so, are you excited by the prospect of a big Apple announcement? No? No, me neither.....'.

The truth is though, I've had high hopes for what was to come. When Apple launched the iPod, they changed the entire market - effectively redefining the public's expectation of technology for many years to come. They then pulled the same trick with the iPhone, and more recently with the iPad (something that was widely dismissed as a giant iPhone, but has yet again changed the face of portable computing). So with the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch, I was hoping for nothing less than a game changing devices. Something that would hit the reset button on the wearables market and move all of us into a post Apple Watch world where competitors would see the watch as the benchmark that they had to measure their products against.

The launch of the iPhone 6 felt like the bit I needed to get through before the main event - a little like that short film about lions in the Serengeti before Star Wars: Return of the Jedi that I had to sit though in the Bognor Picturedrome, 1983.

Apple have announced two sizes - 4.7inches and iPhone Plus which is 5.5inches, which answers many of the critics who have suggested that the iPhone struggles to be a usable browsing tool. The larger iPhone positions it squarely in the phablet market, competing against the Sony, Samsung and HTC offerings. The battery life, wifi speed and perfomance of the phone are all meant to be better, although the rumoured scratch proof sapphire screen isn't part of this new version.

The biggest news for me however is the fact that Apple have finally incorporated NFC technology into their devices.

As a marketeer and technologist, I have lost count of the amount of creative tech executions we've had to abandon because half of the world's smart phones don't support NFC. By building this capability into the iPhone 6, Apple are finally weighing in on a standard that should have been mainstream years ago, and would have been if Apple hadn’t been so curmudgeonly about the whole thing.

Assuming that the Apple Wallet is something that people will feel comfortable using (and I suspect most will happily ditch a few extra bits of plastic), this move will massively accelerate the adoption and widespread use of NFC for payments; and not just for Apple. Joining the game, even at this late stage, will make it far easier for retailers, advertisers and consumers to get on board with mobile payments and all of the other opportunities afforded by NFC (such as sending moving money from one phone to another, commnicating with other devices, enabling home automation or sharing web addresses without the need for typing or clunky QR codes).

This is the new that the retail sector has been waiting to hear. Contactless payments on the iPhone will spearhead upgrades to EPOS and finally move us towards the nirvana of mobile vouchering, micro payments and cashless purchases. 

Other new features include a barometer, which should have some interesting applications once developers start playing with the readings this new sensor can provide.

Apple is finally catching up with Samsung and Microsoft with their new Cloud Drive (although the price point may put people off in the short term) and features like family sharing will also make the Apple ecosystem more attractive to, well, families.

The Apple Watch itself looks Apple-ee enough. It's not a million miles away from many of the concept 3D renders that fanboys have been producing over the last couple of years. It has all of the things you'd expect from a smart watch. Wifi and bluetooth enable it to connect to your phone and any available networks you have access to. It contains an accelerometer (but then seemingly everthing does these days and wireless induction charging (although you’ll have to use the apple magnetic charging dongle).

Like the new iPhone, the Watch has NFC capabilities, meaning that we could buy our Pret Bacon Croisant by tapping the watch on the contactless payment point at the till.

The Watch also features an LED & crystal heart rate monitoring sensor on the rear, meaning that data can be sent to your phone and used in fitness and health monitoring apps.

One of the things that Google and Apple (along with a whole host of smaller tech companies) are really trying to own is the predictive digital assistant technology area. Google Now will suggest places to eat if it knows you are out and about at lunch time, and point out shops selling items you've recently searched for. Apple's attempt at an intelligent assistant, Siri, is famously a bit rubbish, however the Apple Watch will feature access to the unhelpful AI. What could be more interesting is the predictive messaging system - which, because you can't type into the Watch, will suggest responses to text messages based on their content.

There's an entire other blog post on whether we should let our watch have a conversation on our behalf (especially if the person at the other end of the conversation is also letting theirs do the talking), but this could be the beginings of an entirely new way of interacting with people via our devices.

The new iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch will fly off the shelves. However, I’m not sure they’ve really delivered the game changing leaps in mobile technology I was hoping for. There is no doubt that Apple entering into the wearables market will certainly raise the bar for all the other technology companies hoping to retain market share. Consumers will no doubt feel more confident about the owning wearable technology now that Apple are bringing it to the mainstream and I’m genuinely very excited to see where the NFC standard is going to go now that people will have actually heard of it.

The most surprising and ultimately slightly disappointing thing about this years’ big announcement is that Apple are really only changing the game for Apple. In many ways, this time at least, they are playing catchup with the rest of the tech world.

‘The Apple Watch will revolutionise the wearable market’

Apple has once again introduced a product that is destined for ubiquity, says Dave Wallace, chief executive Heath Wallace. The Apple Watch. You might ask: The very object that we all have boxed up somewhere, never to be worn on our wrists or only see in the pages of luxury magazines? Who will be able to resist a wearable product that has Apple written all over it - reflecting the best in engineering, technology and design aesthetic. (For me, even the Mickey Mouse dancing watch face on one of the designs works).

The clincher is the improved camera and what stands out for me is the 'selfie' burst function

As I sit here in a meeting in New York, I watched Apple reveal happen via Twitter. Forget all or any other world news, this was a pretty good way to cut-through the hype.

You can guess that I am an unapologetic Apple fan - I was consumed with the very first 3.5 inch iPhone in 2007, and till yesterday my 4-inch 5C could do no wrong. So my first impressions of the large screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus resulted in almost a ‘High-Five’ moment. And there are other brilliant features, of course. The battery life looks good  and the improved processing power means that it should work smoothly. The clincher is the improved camera and what stands out for me (and sent out cries of delight reverberating around the twittersphere) is the "selfie" burst function. Talk about knowing your audience.

I am obviously getting one. The big decision is which one? I like to carrier my phone in my pocket. I have a feeling the 6 Plus maybe just a little bit too big. Apple Pay looks like a secure and non obtrusive way to pay. There are enough retailers to get it started, but critical mass will be important. I have no doubt that it will happen though. But the launch yesterday brings back to the icing on the cake - the Apple Watch.

This is what we know about it so far: Apple will retail three types of Apple Watch: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. Each model available in two sizes – one for women and one for men with six different strap options. It will get a release date in early 2015. Prices will start at $349.

What is most significant is that the Apple Watch is set out to transform the wearable market. Wearables have been around for a few years around, but if someone can redefine a market, Apple can. It has already led a cultural transformation in the way music, films, mobile communications are consumed. As a brand, Apple has never invented a new market, it has always entered existing markets. But what it does best is make the unseemly serpentine world of technology both accessible and beautiful.

The Apple Watch will revolutionise the wearable market just the same way the iPhone, iPod, and the iPad transformed their respective markets.

‘There is a possibility it has reached a loyalty ceiling with its consumers’

"The issue Apple is facing is one of loyalty, says James Hart, strategy director, Carat. Its use of technology and innovation is increasingly creating a reliance on its ever expanding eco-system, rather than a genuine desire of its customers to create, connect and consume its products like it used to.

Its use of technology and innovation is increasingly creating a reliance on its ever expanding eco-system

"The reason for this? A conscious decision by the brand to move into incremental forms of innovation, rather than the disruptive ones it’s famous for.

"There is a possibility it has reached a loyalty ceiling with its consumers. Given the vertically integrated monopoly Apple now has over its customers, the brand’s genuine and commercially enviable 'consumer love' is beginning to be replaced by a modern form of 'slavery' where habit and necessity could start replacing devotion and self-motivation.

"The issue seems to be that of late the technology Apple are investing behind, such as NFC, is doomed to fail because it requires mainstream consumer behaviour change and a decisive move towards the mass middle. For instance did we really expect to hear the brands McDonalds, Disney & Apple in the same sentence 10 years ago?

"The iWatch’s big opportunity is to be sensory addition to our lives but at the moment it is not doing this. It’s attached to your arm, not connected to it. There is a land-grab for screens, but they may have missed the opportunity to be something more than just another screen."

‘Brands and agencies will pour exponentially more funds into influencer campaigns’

The announcement of Apple's iPhone 6 plus, especially its 'Plus' 5.5-inch model means significantly bigger screens for iPhone enthusiasts, says Eric Dahan, chief executive, InstaBrand. As a result, potentially a significant increase of mobile social media engagement - particularly via Vine and Instagram's visual photo/video platforms.

Increased attraction to Vine and Instagram over text communication platforms like Facebook and Twitter means brands and agencies will pour exponentially more funds into influencer campaigns to drive both sales and brand engagement. Just like HD TVs allowed sports fans to 'experience' stadium events in better quality, from home, bigger iPhone screens make it easier and more appealing to shop fashion/lifestyle brands from your phone.

With any tech launch of this size and scale there is always a gimmick or two thrown into the mix

The Apple Watch should restore faith in the company’s ability to put consumers first thanks, in part, to the decision to keep style front-of-mind with three different styles and two different sizes, says Enzo Annunziata, innovation director, Vizeum.

This new visual language means that Watch owners will be able to express themselves with through the device

Initially, the interface may leave many feeling uncertain but the range of features and functionality will also make it popular with those looking for something that will make their lives more convenient.  

With any tech launch of this size and scale there is always a gimmick or two thrown into the mix and ‘Digital Touch’ seems to fit the bill. This new visual language means that Watch owners will be able to express themselves with through the device. In such a fast moving digital age, where ephemeral connections and short-lived messages are the norm, this new language could be adopted by a younger generation.

The icing on the cake though is the introduction of NFC through embedded technology that should make payments through Apple Watch easy and safe as standard. What’s more by partnering with retailers like Target, Apple will allow consumers to use their credentials to pay for purchases online or through their mobile apps.