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Apple Tim Tebows the big event

I had high hopes for Apple's announcement this week, but they failed to live up to the hype.

091214 tebow
Credit: REUTERS/Adam Hunger

Anyone familiar with football knows the story of Tim Tebow – massively hyped college football player, huge expectations when he joined the NFL. Then came his pro debut. All eyes were on Mr. Tebow and the die-hard fans were pulling for him. Then he flopped, although the zealots will point to a few stats and try to convince you he was a success.

I feel the same way with Apple’s event this week. Like with all Apple events, there was enormous hype around it. The Cupertino campus was jam packed with people waiting to catch a glimpse of the new Apple products. The Apple zealots were camped out in front of the stores waiting to be the first customer to buy the new products, and the media coverage around the event was similar to what one might see at a football game where Tim Tebow was the starting QB.

However, despite the hype and positive press, I think the Apple announcements were largely a disappointment. Apple’s new products were supposed to be “game changing,” similar to the launch of the original iPhone. But were they? Let’s take the Apple-colored glasses and take a look at each product. By the way, in full disclosure, I have a ton of Apple stuff. Between me, my wife and kids we have five iPhones, three iMacs, five Mac laptops, five iPads, and way more iPods and iTouches to count, so it’s not like I’m inherently biased against Apple.

The new iPhones

When the original iPhone was launched, it was a game changer. It was the first device optimized for the web beyond email, and it redefined the smartphone. I remember sitting in a playhouse shortly after the release of the iPhone and seeing an elderly couple in front of me flipping through photos on the iPhone. That’s how I knew it was game changing. That couple would never have bought a BlackBerry, but for them the iPhone was a no-brainer.

Now, fast forward to the new devices. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are really just bigger versions of the old iPhones. Sure, they’re faster and they’ve got the latest processor in it. It’s designed a bit different and now has rounded edges (like the Galaxy) instead of square edges, but what else is new? The user interface is exactly the same.

Also, the new phones don’t have the enormously hyped Sapphire screens. The company has poured tens of millions into developing these screens and they didn’t make their way onto any of the phones. Apple did upgrade the cameras on the iPhone, which is long overdue considering where competitors like Samsung are with camera technology, but I was expecting the new screens.

The Apple Watch

This is a product that I can see having high appeal to the Apple fan base. You know the type – they defend anything Apple does, swear by the “genius bar,” and apologize for anything Apple does. But who else would be interested in the Apple Watch? The fact is there are a number of “smart watches” available on the market today and they’ve largely been a flop. Why? Well, people don’t wear watches anymore. I also think having to plug a watch in at night to charge it is a bit too much of a hassle for most people to do consistently. My guess is that there will be an initial rush of individuals to rush out to by the new Apple Watch because it’s the cool new thing. After a while, a subset of them will regret buying it and sticking it in a drawer.

Apple Pay

The concept of using the smartphone as a payment mechanism is nothing new. Google has been trying to push this model for a while and has limited success. I think the massive base of Apple phones, combined with the number of credit card hacks that have happened over the last year, give Apple a real shot of becoming a leader in mobile payments.

However, I do think Apple has a credibility challenge with security given the iCloud hack earlier this month. The company did discuss the importance of security with Apple Pay, but I would have liked to see the company more directly address iCloud security. They say you’re only as secure as your weakest link, and Apple has a very weak link right now.

Given the hype of the event, I would like to have seen more in the area of iBeacons. Apple has been pushing hard to get more iBeacons into more retailers and it is a nice compliment to Apple Pay. However, the technology was notably absent from the event. Given the size of the event and the number of viewers, Apple could have brought iBeacon into the mainstream.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the new Apple products are cool, but given the hype, like with Tebow, I was rooting for them to succeed, but Apple left me wanting more.

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