Apple’s Special Event on March 21, 2016 started with a video, “40 Years in 40 Seconds” which covered Apple’s innovative journey so far as the tech giant nears its 40th birthday on April 1. It was followed by Tim Cook proudly announcing an incredible milestone which Apple, Inc. (AAPL) recently achieved: more than 1 billion active Apple devices in use around the world. Here’s are the highlights from the event.
The “Big” Issue
Tim Cook was quick to touch on the big issue which he said was everyone’s mind. He said, “we built the iPhone for you, our customers, and we know that it is a deeply personal device. For many of us, the iPhone is an extension of ourselves for many of us.” The CEO emphasized on the company’s belief and responsibility towards its customers which is to help them in protection of their data and privacy. He reiterated Apple’s stance on the issue and said, “We owe it to our customers, and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility.” Meanwhile the highly anticipated hearing scheduled for Tuesday was postponed after the government said “it may have found another way to view the phone's contents.”
Lisa Jackson, the head of Apple’s environmental team, spoke of the company’s environmental concerns and its ambitious goal which was set two years back “to become 100% renewable.” A lot has been achieved and now, 93% of Apple’s facilities worldwide run on renewable energy; with 100% operations in the U.S. as well as offices and stores in China are on renewable power. Overall, Apple has achieved to become 100% renewable in 23 countries around the globe.
She spoke about Apple’s initiatives on solar initiatives, recycling, use of sustainable forests and conservation of forests. The highlight was a very cool R&D project, called Liam. Liam, a recycling robot can deconstruct an old iPhone, and detect, remove and segregate parts for reuse, so that the “materials inside the iPhone can live on.”
The all-new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which weighs just under one pound, was unveiled by Apple. “iPad Pro is a new generation of iPad that is indispensable and immersive, enabling people to be more productive and more creative. It’s incredibly fast, extremely portable, and completely natural to use with your fingers, Apple Pencil, and Smart Keyboard. And now it comes in two sizes,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing. Its features include:
- Retina display
- LED-backlit with Multi-Touch
- Antireflective coating
- Wide color display
- True Tone display
- A9X third-generation chip with 64-bit, Compared to A7: CPU: 2.4x faster, Graphics: 4.3x faster
- M9 coprocessor
- 12-megapixel photos
- Live Photos
- True Tone Flash
- Auto HDR Photos
- Panorama (up to 63 megapixels)
- 4K HD video recording (3840 by 2160)
- 5-megapixel photos (FaceTime HD camera)
- Four speaker audio
- Fingerprint identity sensor built into the Home button, and more.
Apple introduced the iPhone SE which it calls as “the most powerful 4-inch phone ever.” According to Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, “Everyone who wants a smaller phone is going to love iPhone SE.” The iPhone SE offers:
- A 4-inch Retina display
- Advanced 64-bit A9 chip offered in iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s
- M9 motion co-processor
- Longer battery life
- 12-megapixel iSight camera with True Tone flash
- Live Photos
- FaceTime HD Camera with Retina flash
- 4K video
- Faster LTE and Wi-Fi
- Touch ID with Apple Pay
- Available in gold, silver, space gray, and rose gold
The ResearchKit was launched year with a goal to use technology in solving some of problems facing medical research by making it easier to collect accurate and frequent data while allowing people to participate in research studies. “The response to ResearchKit has been fantastic. Virtually overnight, many ResearchKit studies became the largest in history and researchers are gaining insights and making discoveries that weren’t possible before,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer.
In addition to some advancements announced for ResearchKit, Apple introduced CareKit which is “a new software framework designed to help developers enable people to actively manage their own medical conditions.” With iPhone apps using CareKit, its easier for people to keep a track of their health plans as well as monitor symptoms and medication.
Tim Cook announced that Apple Watch has now become the #1 selling smartwatch in the world. As predicted, Apple did not make any announcements on the new version of its wearable product (Apple Watch 2), however, new colors of bands as well as brand new material band was introduced. It is called the “Woven Nylon band” which features a unique four-layered construction and comes in a variety of vibrant colors. The “spring lineup” also included the Sport and Leather band in new colors along with new Space Black Milanese Loop. Apple Watch which will be now available for a lesser starting price of $299 from the earlier $349. According to Canalys estimates, “Apple dominated the smart watch market in 2015, accounting for over 12 million units and two-thirds of all shipments.”
Apple TV has been upgraded for a better experience with dictation which would allow use of voice even for usernames and passwords, Siri for App Store (with more than 5,000 apps available) so users can ask Siri to search for any App they want, iCloud photo library which allows access to entire iPad photos including live photos on the big screen and folders which would allow to organize apps on the home screen. All this and more is now available as a free update on the Apple TV.
The announcements made on Monday didn’t not add any immediate spark to Apple’s stock, since the stock movement in the last one month had already factored in the launch of a few new products. The shares of Apple have moved up by around 12% in the last 30 days (from $94.69 as on February 23) despite the ongoing legal battle with the Department of Justice.
Given the contribution of iPhones to the overall revenue (68% during Q1 2016) and the fact that there is a huge market for smaller iPhones (Apple sold over 30 million 4-inch iPhones in 2015), the launch of iPhone SE looks promising. Apple has already regained its spot as the top company in terms of market capitalization. Overall, Apple’s ongoing, new, and upgraded products will help to enhance the company’s revenue going forward.