Apple Inc. finally unveiled its latest offerings at its annual event in Cupertino, California, on Tuesday (early Wednesday morning Hong Kong time).
Aside from the extensive media coverage, millions of Apple fans across the world also watched the event through a live feed on the company’s official website. The hits were so overwhelming that many viewers complained the website repeatedly crashed during the two-hour presentation.
On the stock market, Apple’s share price peaked at US$103 after the company announced its e-payment service Apple Pay, but started to take a tumble when Apple Watch was introduced, and finally closed 0.38 percent down.
Since Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook had been criticized for being slow in introducing new products to the market. As such, Tuesday’s event marked the company’s bid to show to the world that it still leads the industry in technology and innovation under Cook’s leadership.
But the new iPhone models were a letdown for many fans and industry watchers — no thanks to the leaked images and videos of the products months before the official debut.
Apple Watch, the company’s answer to the tide of wearable devices, also fails to live up to the hype. Many observers say it looks thick, clumsy and old-fashioned with its square face.
Some Chinese netizens joked that Steve Jobs must be turning in his grave.
Apple still considers the iPhone as its main profit engine, but the new, bigger generation of the smartphone has disappointed many fans, who say iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus look like squashed versions of iPhone 5S.
Technology wise, the new phones are faster but they are more like “iPhone 5S+” in performance rather than a genuine breakthrough.
Rumors that the new iPhones would have such features as wireless charging, ultra-fast charging and cameras with large mega-pixels all proved to be just that — rumors. The 4.7- and 5.5-inch displays are also a bold departure from Steve Jobs’ famous assertion that 3.5-inch was the optimal size for a smartphone.
Chinese fans are even more disappointed as unlike in the launch of iPhone 5S and 5C last year, China is not among the first batch of countries where iPhone 6 will be sold starting next Friday.
Buyers in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Germany and Australia will have the privilege to get their hands on the new gadgets ahead of the others.
As for Apple Watch, only time will tell if it can set a new standard for timekeeping and wearables. The US$349 (HK$2,705) device is almost the same in price as an Android smartphone on the market and despite Cook’s efforts to devote almost half of the event’s time for the product, observers see no killer feature that will appeal to the masses. After all, a smartwatch is still not considered a must-have device.
Chinese news portal NetEase says Cook must have been too eager to roll out a new product line, even if he doesn’t have the right gadgets yet.
All of the functions of Apple Watch, such as fitness and health monitoring, phone calls, messaging, navigation, picture-taking and mobile payment, can be found in other cheaper products.
The demos at the event failed to illustrate how Apple Watch will stand out from existing rivals to change the way a user interacts across mobile devices.
Even small family-run factories and copycats can produce better versions of Apple Watch — sleeker and cheaper, according to the latest posts on Chinese social media.
Some say the gadget is so inconvenient for users because the home screen layout has fitted so many apps on a tiny screen. Ladies may also find it hard to match their clothing with the watch.
Apple didn’t say whether the device is waterproof or how long is its battery life.
On the company’s official website, Apple Watch is in a separate product category from other devices such as iPhone, iPad and Mac. But since the device will have to rely on an iPhone to work properly, the company’s decision to market it as a separate product is questionable.
Also, it seems that the company rushed to launch Apple Watch without giving much thought to how customers will use the product. In the first place, why would an iPhone owner switch to using the watch with a screen barely larger than their thumb?
Another problem is that the device won’t be available until early next year, which means Apple will miss a lot of sales during the Christmas season. And as Reuters notes, traditional watchmakers probably won’t lose a sleep over the entry of Apple Watch.
Perhaps the only thing of novelty at the event is Apple Pay — Apple’s version of a virtual wallet — but at least for now, the service will only be available to US consumers starting next month.
The downside of a physical credit card is obvious, but in order to promote the contactless, no-card, on-the-go payment service in more countries, Apple will have to navigate through a maze of regulators, banks, merchants and third-party service providers.
That is especially true in China, where the market has already been carved up by UnionPay and AliPay. It’s not likely that they will welcome Apple with open arms.
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