Apple Continues to Evolve as a Lifestyle Company
Apple announced several new product enhancements at its annual Fall event this past week. Anyone waiting for the “next big thing” may have been disappointed, however the evolution of three core featured products in the iPhone, the Apple Watch, and AirPods Pro were certainly impressive — and will likely result in a surge in sales ahead of and during the upcoming Holiday season.
Two of the most impressive features announced in both the iPhone and the Apple Watch are potentially life-saving (literally):
a) Crash detection: the ability to detect an extreme impact collision, to contact emergency services and notify your emergency contacts automatically if you don’t respond with your status. And,
b) Emergency SOS via satellite: this feature covers you when you’re in areas that mobile networks don’t reach. You point your phone or watch up into the air until it syncs up with a satellite that then notifies emergency personnel as to your exact location.
Apple showed beautiful case study footage of these features in action which really brought home the impact each can have when you need them the most (which of course we all hope you never do!).
Beyond these particular features, the new iPhone 14 line-up has dramatically enhanced their photo capabilities, there’s a new Apple Watch (Ultra) which is a rugged addition to the line-up made to withstand extreme conditions for all kinds of athletes, and the regular Apple Watch now incorporates temperature sensing for women to track their cycles. And AirPods Pro now offers more advanced personalized spatial audio, next level active noise cancellation and adaptive transparency, which reduce more external noise in our environment like jet engines, jackhammers, and emergency vehicles.
As someone who worked at Apple for many years, I’m forever wired to imagine what amazing innovations the company will deliver on next. As we’ve watched Apple evolve over the past 20 years or so (beyond its initial focus on computers), one thing that seems pretty apparent to me and many others is that Apple is more and more becoming a lifestyle company. This is in large part due to the unique hardware and software integration that’s unique to Apple. In that spirit, as far as the company has come, pivoting off these most recent product enhancements I have some thoughts on what’s next.
Watch the Watch
With the Apple Watch, health and fitness has become a big focus for the company. This most recent announcement around cycle tracking for women is terrific. And the data you get when you work out and track your food continues to improve. But there’s also been talk of enabling the watch in conjunction with the phone to detect diabetes without needle sticks, and ultimately even help to prevent strokes and heart attacks (by detecting them earlier) through temp sensors and finger taps.
Wearables are another category where Apple can build in temperature wicking and other elements into clothing and sunglasses on their own or in partnership with other relevant market leaders.
There’s plenty to imagine in terms of how the Watch is, and continues to be, a lifestyle game-changer.
For all that Apple has done (and could do) with regard to a consumer’s life, from my perspective there’s a real gap in their in-home strategy to date. Tony Fadell, a long-time Apple alum who was responsible for the iPod, went on to create the Nest family of products which he sold to Google. Those products effectively morphed into the Google Home suite of products, which followed Amazon’s Echo products to market (with about a two year gap between the two). It was another two years before Apple launched HomePod (and subsequently two more years before they released HomePod mini).
Imagine if Tony had stayed at Apple with his Nest products in hand (or at least sold to Apple vs Google). To be fair, Apple released HomeKit around the same time as when Amazon launched Echo. But for whatever reason, though Apple is often a fast follower, their home products have been somewhat late to the party and haven’t taken off at the scale that Google and Amazon have enjoyed.
There’s a lot of room for Apple to expand into the home and loop it more aggressively into its ecosystem with seamless ties not only to compatible smart home devices, but ultimately to the car.
My favorite example of all they could do is probably best epitomized in a fabulous series Corning created about a decade ago called “A Day Made of Glass”. In this series of must watch videos, Corning lays out a vision for a fully integrated lifestyle made possible by glass — but in terms of the innovative developments, Apple could actually deploy many of them within their overall ecosystem which would be an absolute game changer with everything from the home, the car, education, medicine and more!
Drive My Car
And last, but not least, we know Apple’s working on a car that will be state-of-the-art once it finally comes to market over the next few years. Building on all the developments with connected cars in general, and specifically what Apple’s created in CarPlay, Apple could own the cockpit of the future. Not just in terms of infotainment, and the potential for a safer self-driving experience, but given the announcements last week pertaining to crash detection and emergency SOS via satellite, one can imagine a next-generation safety and rescue situation beyond what GM created in OnStar years ago.
Apple and I will always be inextricably linked, and as an evangelist and a visionary steeped in innovation, my mind is constantly conjuring possibilities where Apple can excel at the next level to delight and engage consumers across virtually every facet of their life. It all comes down to thinking differently, and there’s still plenty of runway.