“The biggest release since the launch of the app store” was how Apple CEO Tim Cook described the perennial unveiling of the latest hardware & software last week.
Amidst the theatre Apple was yet again subject to a major presentation IT fail when its live feed collapsed – but what presentation is complete without an IT fail of some sort?
The launch event won headlines for the introduction of smart watches, a bigger, quicker, heavier, slimmer iPhone & iPhone Plus, and the fabled introduction of NFC.
Its new operating system iOS8 is a feast of better customisation, significantly enhanced security and privacy, and better integration with third party apps – good news for brands. Through all the noise, here is what the marketers need to know.
First up, an obvious one – larger screens mean larger pics, and richer video. Marketers will be considering not only their mobile media bucks, but the better experiences a larger screen offers to apps like Instagram. Owned social channels, for example, could get a boost.
Next, for the brands that have been trying to become a valued digital partner to their consumers, the prize now might just be a spot on the wrist. The introduction of the Apple Watch brings with it the potential for better, deeper brand integration into consumers’ lives – provided it is unobtrusive. Banks and other service providers will be particularly interested.
Then, for any brand that deals in, has an impact on, or cares about health and fitness, the new Health Kit brings plenty of creative opportunities by opening the health data of its user to third parties. When combined with the Apple Watch, that powerful proposition vindicates Nike’s decision to stop Fuelband development. Tim Cook does sit on Nike’s board, btw.
The enriched notifications that come as part of iOS8 will again challenge brands to ensure they are not intrusive, but things like, being able to immediately retweet, or responding to messages right from the notification, give an indication as to how much more interactive they are set to become. Brand with apps will be able to get creative…
But perhaps most groundshaking is the introduction of NFC. It is the foundation of a new service ‘coming in October’ called Apple Pay. And Apple Pay could be massive. It doesn’t require an app to run in its own right. Users can scan their credit card through the NFC antenna, and payment is as simple as tapping a retailer’s NFC POS and hitting the home button. The pay feature can be embedded into third party apps, immediately simplifying mobile purchases both online and ‘terrestrially’.
Over the years we’ve frequently observed that despite the best efforts of companies like Square and Google, it was Apple that held the key to mobile payments. And the scene is now set: already surpassing others, they have aligned the three major card providers VISA, Mastercard and American Express – adding in China’s UnionPay, for good measure. Their iTunes infrastructure with its 800m users (and their credit cards) should see retailers falling over themselves to update POS to accept the payments. Major players like Walmart, Starbucks and BestBuy are already on board.
And when combined with iBeacon, poor old ShopKick’s dream of location, loyalty and game oriented retail could be about to get usurped by the infrastructure it seems only Apple force through.
We were interested to see that iMessage users can now also set timers on their message content, a la Snapchat. That may pique some marketers’ interest, but it’s also an indication of Apple’s new focus on security and privacy, which apparently puts users’ data entirely out of reach of Apple, let alone authorities.
One thing missing from the launch day was more talk of Home Kit, Apple’s venture into home automation. Could it be the focus of the mystery ‘surprise’ Tim Cook promised in coming weeks?
Time to get creative with these new features. This short window while the new handset proliferates is crucial development time…