Thoughts on the September 2019 iPhone Event

Another September, another iPhone event. Here are my thoughts on the 2019 event and the products Apple announced.

Apple TV+. At only $5 per month, my thinking is that this service will probably be a loss leader for Apple, at least for the first year or two, as they would have to sell a lot of subscriptions and open the service up to nearly every competing platform for the service to be anything but a loss leader. The fact that they are giving away a year of the service to people who buy new Apple products probably cements the loss leader status of this service. My thinking is that this service, along with the Apple Arcade, will be used more to entice people to stay within the Apple ecosystem. In terms of the original programming on the service, I did not see anything that appeals to me, but I'm sure that they will expand the programming line up as time progresses.

Apple Arcade. What they demonstrated looked nice, but I don’t feel like they are targeting this service to me. I don’t game on my iPhone SE. Maybe if I had an iPad, I might game on that, since it has a bigger screen. Maybe? It looks like a nice service for people who want to play mobile games without all the obnoxious ads that modern mobile games (especially the free ones) all seem to have. We’ll see if Apple comes out with any must have titles. The few that they demonstrated during the event were not very compelling to me.

iPhone. It was cool that the price of the iPhone 11 has been reduced from the previous year’s iPhone XR. That was a move that I honestly did not expect Apple to make, especially given their track record of price hikes over the past few years. The iPhone naming conventions also make much more sense, as this year's naming convention aligns the iPhone line with their Mac philosophy. You have the MacBook and then the MacBook Pro, the iMac and the iMac Pro, the iPad, and the iPad Pro, and now the iPhone and the iPhone Pro. Should people run out and upgrade? It depends. Aside from the improved camera and faster processor, I did not see anything compelling, even with the “pro” models. iOS will still not allow you to work in split screen mode (unlike most of the Android phones out there). To me a “pro” phone is something that you can use in place of a laptop or tablet — something like the Samsung phone with Dex or even the Lumia 950 (RIP Windows Phone) with Continuum. Those are “pro” phones in my opinion. For people who have the iPhone 6 or 5S, whose devices will not receive iOS 13 (and thus no longer receive regular security updates), I would recommend an upgrade. However, for people like my wife who has an iPhone XR, unless you're some type of camera aficionado, an upgrade is entirely unnecessary.

The iPhone 11 will most definitely be the best seller of the three phones, just like the iPhone XR before it, due to the price point and feature set versus the “pro” models. However, in my opinion there are still two gaps in the iPhone lineup. First, there is no phone for people who want a small device. (I fall into this camp.). Second, there is no phone for people that want a cheaper device (in price) that is not a few models old. Yes, I realize that one can buy an iPhone 7 or 8 for relatively cheap. However, how long will those continue get updates? Maybe two or three more years? What about that person who wants a quality device that they plan to keep for a long time that will not cost an arm or a leg? I don’t think Apple cares about that market at all.

iPad. The entry level iPad seems like a great replacement for the 9.7-inch entry level iPad from previous years. I know there has been a lot of talk on Twitter about the large bezels, but I actually don’t mind the bezels. Now, would I personally buy something like this over a Chromebook or a cheaper laptop that I could throw Linux on? Probably not, as iPad OS (which I have played with a bit on my son's iPad) is still not as capable as desktop GNU/Linux, Chrome OS or Windows. Thats said, even though an iPad is probably not for me as a laptop replacement, I do like this device, and I am sure that it will be great for a lot of people, especially given the lower price point.

The Overall Presentation. Let’s face it. Apple’s keynotes are not what they once were when Steve Jobs was around. Steve was quite the showman and a salesman. The way he presented what Apple announced just made you want the product. Tim Cook and his executive team just don't pull that type of event off as well as Steve Jobs did. I thought this year's keynote was boring to say the least. I’m just glad they did not throw up that stupid Android updates chart this year.

The Bottom Line. This keynote did not get me hyped up to purchase any new Apple products. I really like my iPhone SE, and they did not announce anything that I would want to replace my SE with. In the same vein, I am a happy Roku customer (with a Roku Premier in our bedroom and a 4K Roku TV in our downstairs family room). I’m also an XBox guy. (We have an XBox One connected to our upstairs family room TV, and we have an XBox One S that we use as a Blueray player on our Roku TV downstairs). I am well entrenched in these two eco systems. So if Apple TV+ rolls out to the Roku or Xbox, I might try it, especially since it is only $5 a month, but I’m certainly not going to go out and buy a $149 Apple TV box to try it (even if it is free for a year).

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