Obviously, the biggest news in terms of customer interest is the new iPhone lineup. The focus really is on the camera, this year. The new triple-lens system is the hero feature of 2019 and I bet Apple spends a lot of time on it. The camera improvements will be a lot more substantial and deep than just a wider angle zoom mode. It has to be significant; the iPhone is already falling behind the market in key areas of the camera. This is the year where they have to catch up, but also surpass the status quo in some areas to justify the unsightly trinocular module. I’m expecting a major leap here. Gurman hinted as much in his event rundown.
In contrast, I am not expecting much from the Apple Watch department this year. I feel like Apple front-loaded a lot of changes with the Series 4 last year, and they aren’t ready to make another technological leap. I believe Apple are going to continue selling the same Series 3 and Series 4 models through the holiday season, perhaps with a price drop, and the addition of some new case colours and finishes (ceramic, titanium).
My colleague Guilherme Rambo reported that first-party sleep tracking features are actively in development, but I personally don’t think they are launching that this year. Sleep was not mentioned at WWDC, which logically implies that Apple is holding the feature for new hardware, otherwise they would beta test it through the summer. However, I’m working on the presumption that there is no new Watch hardware this year. Maybe it’s a surprise Series 4 addition for the holidays, but I’m sticking to the idea that sleep tracking is not launching until 2020; a timeline first voiced by Bloomberg earlier this year.
I think the other hardware announcement will be the Apple tracker/tag/tile thingy. It’s a perfect iPhone accessory and Christmas gift idea. Where other trackers like Tile have struggled is the ramp of the network effect. You need a big user base to make the mesh location feature useful, but how do you attract customers if the critical mass isn’t there? Apple’s tag won’t have this chicken-and-egg problem because they are making the entire Apple device install base part of the mesh automatically, with iOS 13 and the other platform software updates. The tag will be just be another beacon in the Find My network, for any nearby iPhone to detect and flag down. This kind of accessory is an easy sell for Apple, perhaps priced at $40-$50 each.
That’s all in regard to hardware expectations; iPad updates and the new 16-inch MacBook Pro are primed for an October unveiling. Naturally, Apple is going to use the attention of the iPhone event stage to showcase its service offerings once again. There will be Apple Arcade game demos. There will be a rundown of what the debut show lineup is for Apple TV+. Whilst I don’t think either service will be available simultaneously with iOS 13, I think Apple will release at least one full episode of their original shows on the same day as the event. They can whet people’s appetites for the impending Apple TV+ launch and gather a few more early bird signups. That is how you fully capitalise on the captive audience and worldwide interest of a new iPhone news cycle.
I predict that there will not be a bundle. They might try and pair Apple TV+ with other Channels like HBO or Disney+, but I would be astonished if they attempt to do an ‘Amazon Prime’-esque subscription of everything Apple for one price. That kind of thing is a desperation play, a fallback if it transpires that they cannot successfully sell their services as standalone products.