Apple has finally revealed the long-awaited hardware and software developments that will be available in the company’s 2015 product portfolio, including the iPhone 6, a new mobile payment system (ApplePay) and the company’s first wearable (Apple Watch). While questions remain regarding the overall functionality of these new products, Apple has once again shown the world that it continues to lead innovation in the space. Moreover, the announcement underscores Apple’s ability to introduce new products, services and utilities that redefine technology and culture — and reignite excitement among early adopters and the general population alike.
- iPhone 6 Shows Beauty’s More Than Screen Deep. iPhone users can expect a major design overhaul in the eighth generation of their beloved smart phone. Along with a larger screen, users will also enjoy improved battery life, new gaming capabilities, revamped UI design and a variety of noteworthy camera capabilities.
- ApplePay Pays It Forward to Retail Partners. The new Apple payment system allows users to quickly pay with a wave. Apple claims the security and privacy of its method is superior to other companies. To ensure a smooth adoption an impressive number of partners are already on board including major nationwide chains like Subway, McDonald’s, Macy’s, Walgreens, Groupon and Uber. Although Google, PayPal, Amazon, and even Square were among the first to break into the digital wallet industry, none have the brand recognition, customer base, and the software/hardware infrastructure to support a seamless B2B and B2C experience.
- Apple Watch (A.K.A. iWatch) is Tech Worth Wearing. The much anticipated Apple Watch is a big deal for both the industry and consumers. While it’s not the first wearable technology to hit the market, it’s the first to nearly perfect an interface that’s user-friendly and create interconnected capabilities. Besides being the first device to be beautifully designed and fashionable, at its most basic, it’s a quick interface to your phone, allowing you to respond to messages or look up directions at a glance. It also tracks your activity, allowing you to monitor your workouts and daily level of activity. Experts predict that future evolutions of Apple Watch will serve as the hub of all Apple interactions and information.
- Apple Health Software Meant to Establish Life-Logging. Apple makes a play for healthcare innovation with the introduction of Apple Health software, putting a focus on life-logging technologies that collect user behavior and activity over time. In partnership with Nike, the new technology allows users to calculate not just distance but relative elevation with the built-in barometer that measures air pressure.
There’s no doubt that Apple introductions for 2015 provide marketers with new and exciting ways to leverage technology to connect with consumers. The larger screen of the iPhone 6 promises larger ad formats and richer video. Apple Watch enables brands to communicate without disrupting experiences. And, of course, both platforms present endless opportunities for application development. However, the less obvious “marketing” capabilities present even more opportunity to motivate consumer behavior, drive business results and strengthen brand loyalty.
Impact on Consumers and Culture
Take-away: Smarter communication adds new context to consumer experiences.
- ApplePay Plans to Change Buying Behavior. The new payment solution is positioned to change purchasing habits for both online and in-store shopping by solving barriers such as security skepticism and complicated check-outs that can lead to cart abandonment. With a more seamless shopping experience, consumers will be able access information consumers seek pre-, during, and post-purchase.
- Messaging Features Redefine Communication. From email to text messaging, inspired by the new forms of communication Apple showed off a series of messaging options including sending one’s heartbeat to a friend, animating emoji, and drawing little pictures. It’s the most Apple-like response possible to social app sensations like WhatsApp, Snapchat, and even the popularity of visual stories via Pinterest and Instagram.
- Consumers have first dibs on Personal Data. iWatch, ApplePay, and HealthKit provide users with instant information on the health of their finances and physical activity. From ApplePay providing users with their own purchasing data to physical activity recorded by Apple Health, immediate access to information overtime allows consumer to be proactive in their experiences and also gives them control over how their data is shared among third parties.
Impact on Technology and the Digital Landscape
Take-away: Personal technology customized by actions, environment and device engagement.
- Solutions with Everyday Value. Apple proves that innovation isn’t about adding more functions or communicating on more screens, but designing technology that simplifies their experiences and adds value to their everyday lives. Apple products were first designed to meet the needs of changing environments. Innovations for 2015 make it possible to anticipate the needs of changing behaviors.
- Innovative Interface with a Timeless Design. Apple products are just as much about form and fit as they are about functionality. The first barrier to tech adoption is design, which is why the iWatch first addressed creating a better wristwatch experience with a better fit, face and style. Even if the Apple Watch doesn’t perform as well as advertised, Apple has designed a user interface that is sure to integrate into the everyday.
Impact on Branding and Advertising Efforts
Take-away: Apple inspires individuals to create their own lifestyle brands.
- Pricing Apple For Everyone. Though Apple has a reputation for frequently reinventing consumer technology at a high price point, the company is exploring “good, better, best” pricing strategies across their product generations for all to share the Apple brand even if it’s not the latest generation. Without losing its cache, Apple has figured out a pricing strategy that makes the brand accessible to all — from early adapters to less-frequent followers.
- Products Redefine Lifestyle Branding. With these announcements, Apple has once again proved that the best brands are inspirational – not aspirational. The philosophy behind apple innovations is to give consumers permission to customize their Apple products as they see fit to ensure adoption.
Next Steps for Brands
Apple is on a mission to design personal technology that is easier, simpler and more beautiful to make people’s lives better. This creates an opportunity for brands to act more human and provide unique value to consumers beyond the context of their products. To take advantage of the opportunities brands should evolve how they approach consumer technology and create experiences that seamlessly fit into people’s everyday lives.
- Design for People, Not Platforms. Apple product evolution demonstrates that marketers should rely less on platforms and more on people. While technology will always be changing, basic human needs remain the same. The best way to stay ahead of the tech curve is to look to your consumer, understand the emotions that drive behavior, and the needs throughout their everyday experiences.
- Build Business with Behavior-Based Marketing. If Apple’s success hastaught us anything it’s that when brands launch products and features that solve user problems, everyone wins! Create business opportunities by solving problems, use technology as a tool to solve unmet needs, and digital media as a way to integrate brand experiences.
- Inform the Senses. Our culture is driven by story-telling, visual engagement and instant-information. There’s an opportunity for marketers to rethink not just what they say, but how they can say it, by exploring the sensory experience of communication and how to bring it to life through technology.
- Stop Thinking, Start Doing. It’s clear consumers support brands that act innovative and not just manufacture innovation. At the tipping point of technology it’s more important to participate than validate. Nike Fuel could’ve easily put the breaks on Fuel, but instead jumped on board as a partner to grow with Apple’s Health software innovation. Be one of the first brands to act as a change agent that leads technology trends, not just responds to them.
Report by Lauren Zeinfeld, Senior Strategist at 360i. Contributors include: Mark Avnet, Dean, 360iU; Layne Harris, Senior Technical Director, 360i; and Fitz Maro; Associate Strategist, 360i.