There was an energy preceding WWDC 2014. Anyone who knew anything had a look about them. Just wait until you see what we have planned for you!. And then we got iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and the biggest functional increase and developer SDK since the addition of the App Store in 2008. That same type of energy is preceding the September 9 event. It's product guys instead of software engineers, but it's the same look. Just wait until you see what we have planned for you!. This, as they say, is the big one.
I don't want to set expectation too high. Apple won't be introducing any iOS devices that pour latte's from the lightning port. The laws of physics, chemistry, and economics will still constrain what they do. Batteries and screens will still be at odds. Security and convenience will still be at war. But in terms of breadth and scope and vision, in terms of completing the setup began at WWDC, in terms of showing the world the new Apple, this will be the big one.
The iPhone 6 will be physically bigger, of course. Just like when the iPhone hit Verizon in 2011 and everyone who wanted one but couldn't use AT&T could finally get one, now everyone who wants one but couldn't use a smaller screen will finally get one. After China Mobile, after IBM and Enterprise, bigger screens is the next lowest hanging fruit on growing the iPhone business.
iOS 8 will be bigger as well, with Extensibility allowing for widgets and interactive notifications, and custom sharing, photo, and action items and keyboards, HealthKit, HomeKit, and much, much more.
We'll probably get to see a few new things as well. Things that tie into the new hardware, like the rumored mobile-payment powered Passbook, and more software solutions to one-handed-ease-of-use on the big screen.
The iWatch — or whatever Apple ends up calling their new wearable — will be physically smaller, but it's impact could be big. Not to Apple's bottom line, not in terms of new product categories, but in terms of bringing the iPad-size devices into the age of iOS and iCloud and once again increasing the overall value of Apple's ecosystem, it could be huge.
It'll also be the back upon which is piled all market and media expectations for Tim Cook. And that pile is probably higher now than the structure Apple's built outside the Flint Center.
For me the biggest unknown remains fashion. Apple has brought in deep fashion expertise over the last year or so, and they've reportedly invited fashion media to the event. What does that mean?
Jony Ive and the industrial design department already know how to make classic, Braun and Leica-style hardware, and they're past masters at materials and colors. Apple has just hired world-renowned industrial designer, and longtime friend of Jony Ive, Marc Newson as well. Absent Steve Jobs, having a fully disclosed collaborator of Newson's caliber and perspective on board can't help but make Ive's world better. Yet the iWatch has to be finished enough already to show off. So, questions remain.
How do you take something that needs to both be a mobile computer and attach to the human body and make it fashionable in way beyond what Apple normally does? There does seem to be enormous potential in moving Apple from a consumer electronics to a lifestyle company. The iconic nature of their products and their relentless focus on customer experience has already taken them much of the way there. How will fashion play into it? That appears to be a secret only the show will tell.
I'm jumping on a plane in just a few hours, and we'll find out together this Tuesday.
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