What can content creators learn from the new Apple launch?

September 18th, 2017

As Tim Cook, Apple CEO, took the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater on Tuesday, expectations were running high. Ten years on from the launch of the original iPhone what did the world’s leading consumer electronics company have up its sleeve?

Sadly for Apple online leaks took away the element of surprise which meant that the unveiling was something of a damp squib. In fact, even before the launch, seasoned tech observers were noting that the products that were being paraded featured tech that wasn’t exactly brand new.

Not that it seemingly bothered the Apple team or US investors. The rhythm of the phone upgrade cycles means that there is already high demand the new phones and even for the flagship Apple X which, in a straight dollars to pound conversion, will retail for around £1000 in the UK.

So what has all this hardware got to do with us? Apple launches are always newsworthy for content creators as they tend to underline ongoing trends in technological innovation and how they will impact on human behaviour, and it was no different this year.

Here then are a few things content creators learnt from the launch.

The pace of innovation in mobiles is really slowing

At the event, Apple launched a trio of phones with most of the attention focused on the new flagship X model. Apple fanboys and girls have presumably been blown away by the full-screen handset and the twin cameras which offer facial recognition to unlock the phone (though this went disastrously wrong on the night). Though anyone who knows more than a little about technology will know neither is a true innovation. Samsung have been touting both of these features for several years now.

Sure the X offers a faster processor  – the wonderfully named A11 Bionic – as well as wireless charging. In reality, though the hardware that Apple is introducing can in no way be described as a significant innovation. This is a small iterative advance over previous Apple phones.

Tech industry pundits have been posting the view for a few years now that the evolution of the mobile phone has significantly slowed. The theory is that as a format it has matured and there really is very little companies can do to tweak the hardware. This is important from a content creator’s point of view, especially if we assume that the mobile in its current guise will be around for at least another decade. They know what they are dealing with when they make that content. The big screen, and fast processor are optimised for video, gaming and AR (more on that in a moment) and these are going to be the key content bases for mobile, in the future.

Augmented Reality is a big bet, but not just now

One of the more curious elements of the launch was the way that Apple seemed to underplay Augmented Reality. A few months ago it launched its ARkit for developers. Cue then a host of wacky and fun uses for Augmented Reality some of which you can watch here. We published an article about AR here not long ago.

https://developer.apple.com/arkit/images/hero_large.jpg

Observers expected Apple to make a big thing of AR, but although it is clearly a key part of iOS 11 Apple didn’t seem to make too much a fuss about it.

There is a theory that Apple wants to slow the hype cycle down. AR is a technology with huge potential which could have a transformative effect on the way we create and consume content. Yet at the moment much of what is being created is fun but a tad gimmicky.

Perhaps it is wise not to push the nascent technology too far for now and let it evolve on a more organic basis. You can be assured that the finest minds in brands’ tech departments are already thinking of how to use AR in innovative ways. It really is a technology to watch.

There are still opportunities for content on watches

The other key launch was the debut of the Apple Watch 3. Again its arrival was less of a surprise as details about the watch had been leaked before the event. The key innovation here is that it now has 4G on board. So owners can receive messages, make and receive calls and more without having to tether the watch to a phone. Again Apple isn’t first with this technology, but it is likely to be the brand that takes the concept mainstream.

When the original Apple Watch launched media companies wondered how they might create bespoke content for the watch and indeed its rivals. It is a tricky proposition given the limited processing powers, the size of the screen etc. It is an issue that many companies still wrestle with. In the future though, the mix of voice technology (Siri) and chatbots may lead both brands and media companies to deliver interesting innovations for the watches.

Commissioned by The CMA

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