Guest Post: Noreen McCaffrey, Head of Marketing at Somo - Apple Watch, Pay & iPhones – What You Need To Know

The FieldHouse blog welcomes a guest post from Somo's Head of Marketing Noreen McCaffrey, who's given us her expert thoughts on everything Apple announced from Tuesday's event. You can read Noreen's post over on the Somo blog, but over to you Noreen...

 

A big phone, an even bigger phone, a smart watch, and a new mobile payments system. Expectations were high surrounding Apple’s event in Cupertino yesterday, and as we watched Bono and friends close down the event, there were mixed feelings within Somo HQ. We were thoroughly impressed with some elements of the announcements (and many of our predictions were dead-on), however some left us wanting more. One thing is certain: businesses need to be aware of several key takeaways from yesterday’s announcements, and we’ve broken them down for you here.

 

Apple Pay

Apple Pay, alongside Touch ID, signals the future of mobile payments. Initially rolling out in the US, where payments technology has fallen short, Apple Pay is set to completely shake up customer payment behaviour and keep retailers on their toes.

Apple could have gone either way: take a more aggressive approach towards iBeacons, or integrate NFC into its new iPhones. NFC it was, with the introduction of Apple Pay making mobile payments intelligent and simple.

Apple has succeeded where others in the mobile wallet market have failed. Apple has already struck partnerships with American Express, Visa, and Mastercard, as well as 22,000 retailers including Macy’s, Disney, and McDonalds. The Apple Pay API is available for third parties to integrate within their business – this is a huge move, and one that could completely revolutionise the way in which companies take money from customers.

If this method of payment takes off in the way we expect it to, it won’t be long before we see Apple Pay appear in other markets outside the US.


Apple Watch

Equally exciting for the connected world, Apple finally made its much anticipated grand entrance into the wearable market. For the first time since January 2010, when Steve Jobs debuted the iPad, Apple has entered a completely new product category.

As we enter a world which becomes more and more connected, the Apple Watch will provide new opportunities for businesses around the globe. There are advantages for brands from both an enterprise and consumer standpoint, meaning we’ll start to see Apple Watches utilised in a range of industries; once the App Store for the Apple Watch launches there’ll be endless opportunities, revolutionising the way we go about our daily lives.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect about the Apple Watch as it is compatible with Apple Pay. Apple Pay alone disrupts current payment processes, but when combined with the Apple Watch, mobile payments will soon become the fastest and most convenient way to complete a transaction.

However, starting at $349, the Apple Watch is more expensive than anticipated. We were expecting the price to be around the $250 mark based on similar releases in the market, so there were murmurs of unrest when $349 was announced. This could potentially eliminate many potential adopters. However keeping in comparison to what a chunk of Apple’s target market pays for watches, which have traditionally been a major status symbol, $349 is nothing in comparison to what a Rolex would cost, for example.

Then there is design: what Apple’s wearable looks like will play a big role in its adoption rate. Apple played it safe, opting for a watch that features a sapphire crystal, retina display that comes in two sizes. From a design perspective, our initial thoughts were that the Apple Watch didn’t have quite the same elegance as the iPhones, iPods, and iPads. However, fashionistas may be attracted to the Watch Edition, which has an 18-carat gold case which is supported by a range of elegant straps.


Watch Sport

This one is all about the quantified self, or the push for more personal data on intake and movement. The Watch Sport alongside dedicated health apps was an indication that Apple continues to view fitness and the quantified self as important. The Apple Watch includes two apps, one for fitness and one for your workouts, that enable you to set targets and track your progress. Apple want you to become healthier, and in their own words “sit less, move more, and get some exercise.” As with a lot of the features that we’ve seen, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking, but the benefit is having everything you need in one place.


iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

And finally, the new mobile phones: nothing too innovative here and certainly nothing unexpected. Apple announced two new iPhones: the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. These devices mark incremental improvements in form and functionality. Both of these devices feature a bigger screen than previous series, with a 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone 6, and a 5.5-inch screen on the iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone users rejoice — there has been an improvement (somewhat) in battery life, and we’re told that the display is now stronger, meaning there should be less cracked iPhone screens out there.

Improvements to WiFi in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has resulted in the introduction of WiFi Calling; in areas where signal is poor, you can now use your WiFi connection to make a call. Whilst this technology isn’t new (Android already has it), it’s still an important addition to the iPhone. It’s a feature that could have a significant impact on overseas calling – most hotels now offer WiFi in some capacity, so rather than being hit with a massive phone bill when you return from a holiday or business abroad, WiFi Calling could help save you money.


Older iPhone Pricing

Apple now has a fighting chance at competing against Samsung and Android for market share as it slashed prices on it’s older iPhone models. The base 8GB iPhone 5c now costs $0 on contract, while the 16GB iPhone 5s will set you back $99. This means that Apple is in the game competing on price and could well expand its reach to a whole new set of a iPhone users. It will be interesting to see the shift in market share as consumers with lower discretionary income start purchasing Apple products.

We have already been extensively researching and building with iOS 8, and the Cupertino team gave us a lot more to consider last night with these announcements. More insight from our team once we have Apple Watch and the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the innovation lab — watch this space.