Follow Up for Apple’s “Spring Forward” Event

In case you missed my post last week, Apple had an event last Monday.  We saw a lot of cool things last week, not the least of which was the Apple Watch.  Here’s a rundown of exactly what happened Monday.

HBO
I don’t think anyone saw this coming.  Apple lowered the price of the Apple TV (from $99 to $69) and announced an exclusive deal with HBO.  HBO’s new stand-alone streaming service, HBO NOW, will be available only on Apple devices (including the Apple TV) for the first three months.  This is huge.  HBO NOW has enormous potential to disrupt the TV industry, and this deal could really sell some Apple TVs.  Unfortunately, there was no much-need Apple TV update, but the lower price indicates that we might see one next fall.  (Also, the HBO presentation resulted in the most hilarious tweet I saw during the event.)

MacBook
As I predicted, Apple unveiled the newest version of their MacBook laptop line on Monday.  However, this isn’t technically a new MacBook Air.  Dubbed simply the “MacBook,” this new laptop is super thin and light, and yes, it does have a retina display.  The craziest thing about this laptop, however, is the fact that, aside from the headphone jack, it only has one port.  One.  Basically, in order to get the computer that thin and light, Apple had to remove all connectors except for a single USB-C.  This can be used to power the laptop or attach peripherals.  You can only do both if you buy an adapter (conveniently, Apple sells one for $79).  Apple’s argument here is that most things we connect to a computer can now be wireless, whether its a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard or AirPlay video out.  I’m not sure whether Apple will stick to this story or whether, in a year or two, they’ll figure out how to fit a USB 3.0 port in this thing.

Apple Watch
Obviously, the most important thing discussed at the event was the Apple Watch.  We saw some cool app demos (including Shazam and some connected home stuff), and we also got our answers regarding battery, pricing, and bands.  Before I talk about pricing, let’s cover battery really quickly.  Apple says that, during normal usage, you can expect 18 hours of battery from the Apple Watch.  This fits what they said in September, which was that the Watch would last all day and then you’d charge it every night.  As long as it really lasts all day (and not just barely all day), this should be OK for most people.  Now let’s talk pricing.  First is the Apple Watch Sport.  This model is $349 for the 38mm, and $399 for the 42mm.  It only comes with the rubber sport band, but you can buy the other bands and put them on the Sport.  Thing is, though, the other bands are $149 – $449, depending on which one you get.  The flagship Apple Watch model starts at $549 ($599 for the 42mm), and goes up to $1099, depending on which band you get with the watch.  Again, you can buy additional bands (including the sport one) and switch them out.  Finally, there’s the Apple Watch Edition.  This model starts at $10,000, will have limited quantities, and can only be purchased in certain Apple Stores (which will, I’m sure, provide a high-end jewelry experience).  Also, the Edition’s bands are not interchangeable; you have to pick one and stick with it (hilariously, the rubber sport band is still an option).  If you’re curious as to exactly what each model costs, you can see the full lineup of watches here and the additional bands here.  There’s also this really cool spreadsheet that a guy named Rob Griffiths put together with a bunch of stats (including the price) for each model.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, there were no mention of any iPads at this event.  Even still, this was a huge day for Apple.  I personally can’t afford an Apple Watch, but most everyone on my tech podcasts seem really excited about getting their hands on one.  Maybe in a few years the prices will come down a little and I’ll get one.  Only one other problem remains: I beat the heck out of my watch.  I know these watches are supposed to be sturdy, but I really don’t want to pay upwards of $400 for a watch and then just break it the first time I get a little clumsy.  ••

Predictions for Apple’s March Event

Yes, you read that correctly.

If my research is correct, Apple hasn’t had a spring event since 2012 (when they unveiled the 3rd generation iPad, in case you were wondering).  However, Apple is all set to have their latest press event on March 9.  If if we weren’t already sure that this event would showcase the Apple Watch in full detail, the title of the event, “Spring Forward,” certainly confirmed it.

So what exactly is going to happen at this event?  There are lots of rumors swirling around, but I’m guessing that we’ll see at least two if not three new things.

Apple Watch
First and foremost is, obviously, the Apple Watch.  This was unveiled at an Apple event last September, but we there’s still a ton of stuff we don’t know about the Apple Watch.  The most notable detail is pricing.  Apple told us last September that the Apple Watch would start at $349.  However, that doesn’t clear things up as much as you might think.  Let me explain how complicated the Apple Watch Product line is.  There are three main models.  The flagship one is simply called the Apple Watch.  This is the mid-range model, available in silver or black stainless steel.  My guess is that this model will be somewhere around $500 – $700.  The second model, the Apple Watch Sport, is the cheaper one.  Also available in silver or black, this model is aluminum and has a rubber watch band.  The aluminum and rubber mean that this watch is the more durable one, living up to its “Sport” name.  This, for sure will be the one that starts at $349.  However, I’ve neglected to mention that there are also two sizes to the Apple Watch.  These could be differently priced (like the iPad), or they could be the same, since it seems one is geared towards women and the other towards men.  So, as you can see, Apple Watch pricing is far from definitive.  But I haven’t even talked about the last model.  The Apple Watch Edition is 18-karat yellow or rose gold.  This model is Apple’s attempt to enter the fashion industry.  All bets are off as to what the price of this model will be, but I think it’ll be $10,000 – $20,000.  This sounds absurd, I know, but Apple is shooting for the super high end market.  Think Rolex here.  The Apple Watch Edition isn’t just aiming for the high end consumer market, it’s aiming for the people who have so much money to just throw away that they buy the most expensive watch they can find just to show off.  I’ve given prices for each model here, but they’re really just educated guesses.  You can bet that a good majority of my post next week will be devoted to Apple Watch pricing.

MacBook Air
There was a story a few months ago in 9to5Mac which contained supposedly leaked information regarding the latest edition of Apple’s MacBook Air (the low end of their laptop line).  People have been clamoring for a retina display-equipped Air for years now, and it seems like they may finally get it.  If 9to5Mac’s sources are correct, the new model is 12″ across, but it reduces the size of the bezel to keep the screen size of the current 13″ model.  However, the most revolutionary part of this rumored model is the fact that it only has 2 ports: a headphone jack and a USB-C connector.  What is USB-C?  It’s a new type of USB technology which can not only connect peripheral devices but also deliver power to the laptop.  This of course opens lots of questions.  How do you (or can you) charge your laptop and sync your iPhone?  Is there an adapter to buy?  I don’t know for sure if we’ll see this device next week, but I’m guessing we will.

iPad Pro
The last device we may see next week is a 12″ iPad Pro.  Larger than the current 10″ iPad Air line, this model would include a stylus and cater towards creative professionals.  Apple has historically pooh-poohed styluses, and because the iPad’s screen isn’t designed for the increased precision of styluses, third-party styluses just don’t perform as well as, say the Surface‘s stylus.  I see a lot of people take notes on Windows Tablets at SPSU, so I know that this is a feature people are interested in.  I’m less inclined to believe that we’ll see this device next week (I’m guessing it’ll come in the fall), but it is possible.

So long story short, this week is going to be an exciting week for Apple.  I’ll be back next week with a recap of what happened, which will most definitely include lots of details about the Apple Watch.  Stay tuned!  ••