Oct. 22 Event Debriefing

23 October 13

So, I’d say my record is kind of so-so this time around and but I did get a long-term prediction fleshed out a little. So here’s how it played out:

iPad with Retina Display (5th Gen)

I, like everyone, didn’t see the name change coming. However, as I’ve been claiming an iPad Pro must be in the works somewhere, the name change to iPad Air does have some implication that an iPad Pro is a possible product, just like there’s a MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

As for the specs, the big miss for me was the lack of the Touch ID. This was also a common mistake made by Apple prognosticators. If it was left our for technical/manufacturing reasons, that’s perfectly understandable. If it was left out for strategic reasons, then we’ll have to wait and see how this develops. It’s very clear that the tech it self is not only the superior biometric ID system available in consumer electronics, it may be the best for any application, consumer or otherwise. I think Touch ID could be a product in itself in the future – and I’m slightly surprised it didn’t go into the new MacBook Pro.

What I did get right was that the iPad refresh was going to be evolutionary, simply with faster speeds and the case change. Prices and memory also remained the same. I was also right about the battery life going up 2 hours, and I was wrong when I thought that the camera would go to 8 megapixels, and wrong that the chip would be an A7X. They’re just going to put the A7 in both the iPhone 5s and the iPads, which is a new thing. I was also wrong about the iPad 2 being dropped, which was maybe the single most questionable move of the event. I’m not sure about stereo speakers. The grille looks like it has stereo, but the tech specs don’t say.

iPad mini

My call that the iPad mini would increase the price to include a retina display was right, and I was also right about the 1st gen mini being kept and dropped to $299. But I did underestimate the price increase, I thought it would top out at $359, not $399.

I was wrong about there being a gold case option, thank goodness.


The iLife and iWork apps were indeed refreshed, but the iOS upgrade was 7.0.3, not 7.1. I also mentioned in my “What is iCloud?” article that I thought Apple would leverage their apps and iCloud into a package Google could not match. Making the iLife and iWork apps free and adding iCloud collaboration in iWork was exactly what I was talking about, and is a first step in what iCloud will ultimately become.

A few columnists have opined that this is a broadside to Microsoft, and Microsoft’s Office package was mentioned in the keynote, but I regard this more as a swipe at Google. With a new Mac or device, you get free email, maps, photo, music, movie, word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software. That’s a huge package of free stuff – and none of it has ads or is dependent on faith in Google.


I was reasonably sure that Apple would only talk about the Pro and Mavericks, and hold off on the MacBook Pro. I seem to have miscalculated. So I didn’t make any predictions about how the MacBook Pro would be upgraded, beyond the Haswell CPU. My thought that there was a case upgrade coming also proved false.

As for the Mac Pro, my suspicion that it still wasn’t ready to ship proved correct.

OS X Mavericks

I did think iWork and iLife were in for a Mac refresh, but I left it in doubt if it would actually happen. So a pleasant surprise. As for the free price of OS X, I didn’t predict it, but it was a somewhat predictable move. I should have seen that coming.

Apple TV

I hoped for a software refresh, but all we got was iMovie Theater. Oh well. The Apple TV has become the black sheep of the Apple product line.

Thoughts on the event

It was a jam-packed event, and had good energy throughout. The best in a long time.

I was struck with how many videos were being shown. Cool videos, yes, and Apple does a terrific job with them, but four or five is too many. The reason for that is that they had “a lot to cover,” and my impression is that they’re releasing too much at once. They need to return to something like a quarterly announcement schedule, rather than jam it all in such a short period of time. In five months, Apple refreshed the iMac, MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone lines. They released a new line of iPhones, the 5c. They also beta-tested and released iOS 7 and OS X. All the these were (or will be) released in the last 25% of the year.

Certainly they can spread things out just a little and open the barn door in the winter or spring. That would take a burden off these mega-events, and let the public focus on a few things at a time. I’ve talked about Steve Jobs and the rule of three’s, and that proved to be a very successful strategy over the years. Three topics, no more. Anything else can wait until the next event.

For Apple, a year breaks down into two principal selling seasons for electronics: Christmas and Back-to-School. You also have federal agency purchases, which tend to have more purchasing around the beginning and end of the federal fiscal year, which is the end of September. Releasing products only in the last four months makes federal purchasing tough, because they can’t plan for it, and ignoring back-to-school is a liability.

I was also struck by how Tim Cook was a bit melodramatic at the end. I think it’d be a better event of he were more of a “host” of the event, transitioning between the big announcements and making his comments then, rather than trying to compress all the emotion in at the end. I’ve never doubted Tim’s passion for what he does, I’ve only had doubts about his ability (or anyone’s ability) to manage Apple beyond Steve’s original game plan.