Protect This House

9 September 14

I’m worried that if Apple were to actually introduce a product at their upcoming Sept. 9 event that the world might just spin off its’ axis. If we’re lucky, they’ll just do what they’ve been doing for the past year and merely announce the future introduction of new products. Maybe they’ll mention if there’s more to come!

Yes, I’m being a pouty little snot, but it has been nearly a complete year without significant new products, and the release schedule has been very slight over the past three years. Apple has seemingly forgotten that “real artists ship.”

The first clue as to what we’re going to see is that the venue for this announcement is physically huge, and has been used by Apple for significant announcements in the past. It’s a facility that can hold 2300 people, enough seats for a fading rock band.

Arena Rock!

Given that it’s a big facility, Apple naturally decided to build an addition to the venue, at least a couple of stories tall. Popular speculation is that it was built for a “hands on” area.

Let’s think about that a little more carefully. What’s wrong with a tent? That would hold everyone just fine. Why two stories? And for a brief product demo?

Because they’re bleeding cash

Without knowing anything about the particulars, it does appear that they need something very large to accommodate whatever it is that they want to show off. You don’t need two stories to show off a phone. You don’t need two stories to demonstrate a watch.

The iBlimp is Go

You do need something two stories tall to house a gymnasium. The very size of this building could indicate they want to demo athletic applications. It points to a major new element of what this event may hold: lifestyle devices.

The temptation is to say “wearables” when describing what Apple is making, and even more tempting to say “iWatch.” Both terms may miss the mark of where Apple is likely going.

But I already registered!

Nike bailed out of the athletic “wearables” market a year ago, essentially, and walked away from it. That doesn’t sound like a good move for a company that introduced the Nike+ fitness bands, the Nike+ shoe sensor and the Nike+ SportWatch. True, they still sell these products, but have largely stopped development of them.

Or did they? The secret history of the Nike+ sensor is that it was always an Apple product from day one. Designed, tested and built by Apple. So Apple has been in the wearable business since 2006 already.

Still, if I had a company like Apple designing products for me, why would I ever terminate that kind of opportunity? That’s nuts.

That is, unless Nike could see what was coming, and that they were going to have to cut bait before they got overwhelmed by what Apple was going to do in a tidal wave of innovation they could’t hope to match.

We’re Gonna Nee a Bigger Boat

Apple has also apparently invited “fashion journalists” to the event, and almost simultaneously announced the hiring of a watch designer, rightly creating speculation about watches. What most seem to have missed was Tim Cook’s comments that say that the wrist was “interesting” for a wearable solution, but there was also this quote: “There are other wearable ideas.”

I covered this ground in a previous entry, Who Watches the iWatchers but the upshot is that “watches” were not the only thing in development. I postulated on headphone-based wearables and health-related wearables.

So what other wearable ideas are there? Besides the wrist and headphones, you could also add sensor-embedded necklaces, anklets, undershirts, headbands, rings and belts. Basically the classic “accessory” and “jewelry” markets.

A lot of folks have been noting that kids are more focused on electronics like the iPhone as the “fashion accessory” they are most interested in, eschewing clothing as the traditional focus for fashion trends. Apps and tech gear are the new trendsetters. Branching out into wearable tech is a savvy, prudent move to take advantage of this shift.

If there is any doubt about the power of electronics in the fashion world, you just have to think back to when headphones were black. Once the iPod hit, headphones have become a fashion accessory in and of themselves. Ten years later, they became so huge that Apple needed to buy Beats to claim a bigger piece of that pie.

This wave of new items is what forced Nike to step aside. They understand that Apple is about to set a new standard and enter into a new age of what “wearables” means, what fashion is going to become, and how sensors can make a huge difference in the way we live our lives.

Spidey Sense Tingling

Sensors can not only be turned inward for health monitoring, but they can be turned outward. You can see in the dark with the right cameras. You can see temperature, you can go beyond the visible light spectrum. With electronic assistance, you can hear sounds miles away, you can hear frequencies beyond the normal range. An app can run to monitor such things and let you know when something needs your attention.

You can use “inward” sensors and “outward” sensors in tandem and figure out when your skin might be getting too much UV and alerting you to danger. They can check the temperature and compare it to your body temp and let you know when you need to put on a sweater. It can tell you when you have high blood pressure and see what your physical activity level is and warn you if things don’t look quite right. The same can go for drug dosing and alcohol consumption.

I think the likeliest way to introduce such products is in an athletic context and I think that’s the start of what Apple’s up to with it’s wearables initiative.

So you really don’t know, what they’re doing, do you?

We’ll get the 4.7” iPhone, the iPhone Plus at 5.5” and maybe Touch ID-enabled iPad and iPad mini updates. I’ve previously predicted that the big iPhone 5.5” would be sold at a lower price, but I’m not nearly as confident about that as I was when I made the prediction.

I think that the 5.5” iPhone will be the new “top end” phone. Apple’s tiered memory/price system doesn’t work very well these days, as the difference between 16GB and 32GB is not plausible at $100. By my tracking, the difference between 16 and 32GB flash sticks is $9. I expect that the new metal-cased iPhones will go with 32GB at a minimum and may only have two sizes. Either that or Apple will wind some other way of differentiating the models. A camera upgrade would be the most direct thing to do.

There’s been no leaks of a case for an “iPhone 6c” so I’m not confident about predicting such a thing. I wasn’t sold on the need for an iPhone 5c when it debuted, and I’m not sold that it will be iterated.

NFC and Wallet/Passbook functionality? I think so. We’ve been going there for a while, and if it’s not announced on the 9th, it’ll come.

So the iPhone stuff I’m reasonably sure of. The unknown is what’s in that white building and what looms next to the flint center. What’s inside? THE FUTURE

Or Kobe Bryant.