Apple pulled the wraps off two new Apple Watches, two iPads and several services bundles at an event Tuesday held online.
The new watches include the Series 6, which boasts performance improvements over the previous generation of the product and will sell for US$399, and the SE, an economy watch model, which will sell for $279. Apple will also continue to offer its Series 3 watches for $199.
Apple also refreshed its basic iPad and the iPad Air, which is now based on the new A14 processor, a five-nanometer fabricated powerhouse.
In addition, the company revealed Apple One. It offers bundles of Apple services, ranging from $14.95 to $29.95.
“Thanks to the launch of two new Apple Watches, Apple will broaden the reach of its wearable products and will stay way ahead of Samsung and other competitors,” said Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.
“With this launch, Apple demonstrated once again that it excels at creating experiences that are relevant in the daily lives of its customers,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“The Apple Watch is also a great catalyst to pivot its strategy to services while continuing to innovate with a new product category that did not exist several years ago,” he added.
Focus on Fitness and Health
The Series 6 watches emphasize fitness and health applications. With Fitness+, Apple combines watch metrics with fitness videos; and with a new health sensor, the watch can measure blood oxygen levels from a user’s wrist.
“The timing of introducing fitness and health focused products is great, given the pandemic,” Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst at Technalysis Research, told TechNewsWorld.
“Apple is putting a very big emphasis on health and fitness,” added Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in Campbell, Calif. “That’s the number one reason people buy these watches in the first place,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“Adding things like the blood oxygen oximeter, a faster processor and tying it to Fitness+ makes it, by far, the best fitness monitor, as well as watch, in the market,” he added.
That market will be growing over the next 10 years, as more Apple users find combining a watch with another Apple device irresistible.
In a report posted online last week by Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster, he predicted watch ownership by Apple users will grow from nine percent now to 50 percent in 10 years, which will result in revenues of $50 million a year, compared to $31 million in this calendar year.
Watch Out Peloton!
Kevin Krewell, a principal analyst with Tirias Research, maintained Apple is taking its smart watch to the next level in fitness and health with the Series 6 line.
“There’s just so much you can do with time-keeping and new watch faces,” he told TechNewsWorld.
He noted that with Fitness+, Apple is emulating the success model of fitness-equipment maker Peloton.
“Fitness+ let’s you work out with instructors that you can watch on your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV who encourage you,” he explained. “It integrates the watch with the exercise program. It’s why people are hooked on Peloton and these other interactive fitness programs.”
“Peloton should be looking over their shoulder,” warned Mark N. Vena, a senior analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy.
“Peloton services are live while Apple’s are prerecorded videos, but I’m sure they’ll be top caliber from a production standpoint and very well-calibrated for what level of training you want to take,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Apple watchers agree that the addition of blood oxygen monitoring to the Apple Watch’s repertoire is a significant upgrade of the product.
“I was impressed with the blood oxygen sensor,” noted Krewell, of Tirias.
“That’s a solid improvement in health reporting,” he continued. “It gives everybody another vector to recognize their fitness levels and their ongoing health.”
“It’s an avenue where the Apple Watch can make a difference and that’s why they’re focused on it,” he added.
Moor’s Vena maintained that the oximeter sensor is “a really big deal.”
“It opens up a number of avenues for better health detection,” he said. “It’s one more step in allowing smart watches to act as a 24-7 health device, continually monitoring your health.”
As important as blood oxygen tracking is to the new watch series, Apple spent more time at its event emphasizing the fitness aspects of the product.
“Apple is right to reinforce the positioning of its new Apple Watch Series 6 watch as a fitness and not a medical device,” maintained Forrestor’s Husson.
Apple’s introduction of a lower cost SE version of its watch may be a shrewd move by the company, according to some analysts.
“It was good to see them do a lower cost watch,” observed O’Donnell, of Technalysis.
“Clearly the SE is a reflection of Apple starting to target the lower end of the market more than they ever have,” he said. “It’s hard to sell a $400 watch with a $400 phone. It makes more sense to have a watch priced as an accessory.”
David McQueen, a research director at ABI Research, contends introduction of the SE is an important strategic move by Apple.
“It continues to open up the addressable market for the watch to a wider audience, building on affordability in its SE sub-brand products while being positioned as a successor to the Watch Series 3,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“At a price that is 30 percent cheaper than Watch Series 6, the Watch SE has a similar design and as large a Retina display as Watch 6, including advanced sensors, which provides a compelling combination of features and affordability to target new consumer segments,” he added.
In an unusual move, Apple introduced a product with a new mobile processor that wasn’t an iPhone.
“The new iPad Air will be powered by Apple’s new five nanometer A14 Bionic chip, the first of its products to carry the advanced chip, an honor that is usually bestowed on the iPhone,” observed McQueen.
Bajarin explained that the A14 chip gives the iPad Air, which will sell at a base price of $599, a huge bump in processing power. “It allows it to compete with laptops,” he said.
“The fact that they’re using five nanometer processing so they can add more transistors to it makes it an even bigger deal,” he noted.
“The Air is an amazing product,” Krewell added. “Six core processor. More graphics. Full screen. Touch sensor on the top. Neural engine and machine learning acceleration on the CPU. There’s a lot there to unpack.”
Apple also introduced at its event Apple One, which offers three bundles of its service packages, selling at $14.94, $19.95 and $29.95.