Apple's BIG Announcements. What's the Impact for Marketing? | Apple's BIG Announcements. What's the Impact for Marketing? | DMA

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Apple's BIG Announcements. What's the Impact for Marketing?

Apple’s latest product announcements have been some of the most anticipated in years. And rightly so. The last few Apple outings have largely been phone or OS upgrades, but no stunning new products. This time, though, they delivered the much anticipated iWatch. On first viewing, it looks like the device will meet consumer expectations. The design is good, but not outstanding. Although Apple cleverly hired some key people from fashion retail last year, some commentators were not overwhelmed by the design. In spite of that the watch has plenty of features and the integration into older iPhones could make it attractive to a wide audience. A key feature is the integration of Apple Pay (see below). So rather than having to get a phone (or card) out of your pocket, payments can be made simply putting your wrist against the payment terminal. That kind of frictionless experience could be the killer app for both the iWatch and Apple Pay.

Can the iWatch Drive the Wearable Market?

Will the smartwatch be as ubiquitous as the smartphone, thanks to Apple? Only time will tell. But in spite a number of interesting products from Pebble, Motorola, Samsung and now Apple, there are many people who would rather stick with an analogue watch. Predictions from ABI and Juniper, though pre-iWatch, show the potential market to be just a fraction of the smartphone one. It will be interesting to see if Apple can maintain their reputation as a game changer. For user adoption ultimately the big question is battery life (something that Apple rarely mentions). Anyone running iO7 knows you can't get through the day without charging your phone. Will the iWatch improve that by reducing smartphone usage, or will it be just another device to keep charging? If it's the later then the iWatch could just be an expensive, useless gadget.

From a marketing perspective, brands are likely to see the iWatch as a new opportunity. However, there needs to be a word of caution. Apple described their smartwatch as their most personal device to date. That means that brands will have to take care not to alienated iWatch users with poorly considered intrusive campaigns.

Is Apple Pay a Good Thing for Mobile Payments?

The other significant announcement from a marketing perspective was the integration of NFC, or contactless payments along with a mobile wallet system called Apple Pay. Although NFC is in many Android phones, it hasn’t gained the traction that the industry hoped for. NFC in the iPhone has been much anticipated and many are hoping that it will drive payments forward. Significantly, Apple Pay is their bespoke payment ecosystem that includes secure online payments, NFC and Passbook. The open APIs are an important step to drive the development of mobile payments. Think of it much like the way that Apple brought developers to the App Store. There are major challenges though. Mobile and Connected Marketing Council member Jason Cross explained:

'I was excited by the Apple Pay system – finally they’ve got off the fence and gone with NFC - a simple way of paying through your phone. But then it was US-only. And just 220k outlets (and you’ll bet at least 50% of those are near Cupertino/ The Valley, and so irrelevant for the “person in the street”).'

Overall, the new products are interesting, but didn't quite meet expections. As Jason put it:

'I was as underwhelmed by this “big show”. I think we’re back to early noughties in mobile: everyone knows the product, what it is and what it needs to do. It’s now a case of getting a UX and box design stylish – or affordable enough to get volume sales. It's that and improving battery life/capability. Innovation in this space will come from someone we don’t yet know about. Again.'

Clearly, Apple has a tough audience to please.

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