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Back in April, Apple — responding to the never-ending cries of the technology press — introduced a powerful,. Starting at $399, the highly disruptive iPhone SE uses a variant of the company’s highest-end mobile processor, the A13. This is significantly more potent than any mobile system on a chip offered by Android manufacturers, even besting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 used on devices with $1,000+ price points.
If that wasn’t bad enough news for Android, the iPhone SE’s single-lens primary camera produces images of comparable photographic quality to those produced by the main camera on Apple’s most expensive device, the iPhone 11 Pro.
In effect, it’s an Android killer. And there’s not much competing Android vendors have been able to do to respond. Why would anyone shopping for an inexpensive phone upgrade throw good money out the window on a far less capable Android at the same or even higher price points? The Google Pixel 4A is a decent phone, but better than the iPhone SE at a similar price? It’s hard to make that argument considering how powerful a device the iPhone SE is in comparison.
Next week, on Sept. 15, Apple will launch updated (and potentially new) products at its “Time Flies” event. We’re expecting new Apple Watches and new iPads. The iPhone SE has damaged Google and Android’s market share for sure, but who else can Cupertino disrupt with lower-priced, highly capable products? And what are the chances of them appearing at the event?
Apple Watch SE
The Apple Watch Series 3 is already a good deal at $199. But do you know what would be an even better deal? A $149 Apple Watch SE. This would compete well with several Fitbit products at similar price points. I think it would demolish them.
I foresee this device coming in a single size (38mm), made out of plastic and rubber (like the CASIO G-Shock devices of old), with a non-replaceable band.
Also: Wearables and services to help you stay fit and focused while on lockdown
It would be Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-only and have a heart sensor, but no ECG. I’d like to see Apple introduce blood oxygenation sensors, such as those used in Pulse Oximeters (which are currently in short supply due to). Still, realistically, I see those being made available in the more expensive models.
A cheaper Apple Watch is something we are likely to expect next week. Chances of us seeing one? I’ll put it at about 80%, at a $199 price point or less.
Apple TV SE
I don’t know about you folks, but I am sick of the streaming boxes that can’t do anything other than stream movies and TV. It’s about time for Apple to do a complete refresh on Apple TV 4K, which currently costs $199 and hasn’t been refreshed in over two years.
Look, competitors to Apple TV such as Roku are selling devices for as cheap as $30 for their low-end device and $99 for their highest-end models. Amazon’s highest-end Fire TV is a whole $119, and it’s a great device, too.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my Roku Ultra and my Fire TV device. But you know what would utterly destroy them both? A $99 Apple TV with the A13 chip so we can play Apple Arcade games. Pair it with a $50 Apple Arcade controller, and it’s a done deal.
I don’t even need a 4K version; a 1080p version at that price point would be excellent because I don’t give a damn about 4K content. Let’s face it: If this shelter-at-home lifestyle goes on indefinitely, and the content delivery networks remain overwhelmed, we will all have to live with throttled bandwidth that won’t accurately reproduce 4K material in most homes.
The Apple TV has been due for a refresh for a while, so I would put odds of a replacement at 70% for an appearance in the next two or three months, next week’s event notwithstanding.
Apple already has a line of lower-cost headphones than AirPods and AirPods Pro, with the Beats by Dre line. However, the least expensive product in that line — the Powerbeats — costs $149. It’s an in-ear product designed for more of a mobile and outdoor lifestyle. And the least expensive over-the-ear product is the Beats Solo 3 at $199.
The company needs an on-ear product in the $99 range, potentially something with basic-level active noise cancellation. (At home, why would you even need noise cancellation, for the most part?) This budget product should still fit comfortably, and allow for better ear ventilation, so you don’t get sweaty, be designed primarily for home use. It should have a mic on each side to respond to Siri commands and be good enough for casual FaceTime or Zoom usage.
Good $99 on-ear headphones optimized for general content consumption for non-audiophiles would put tons of weird off-brands from China out of business. Even a company like Anker, which makes some excellent value products with its SoundCore line, would have trouble competing with AirPods SE.
We will probably see over-the-ear AirPods in medium and high end (Studio or Studio Pro) in the $200-and-up range next week, as Apple seeks to add differentiating products from Beats, but a lower-end over-the-ear AirPods product? I’d put that at 20%.
In the “zero development time required to disrupt an industry leader” department, we have Nintendo and its Switch, which has an MSRP of $299. However, due to the high demand for the device, it has sold for more than $499 in some places.
How simple would it be if Apple were to remove the 4G baseband electronics from an iPhone 8, slap an A13 in it, and pair it with an arcade controller “sled” similar to what is used on the Nintendo Switch?
Apple could easily price the iPod Arcade, sans the controller sled, for $200 — the current iPod Touch price.
Arguably, Apple did not sell a lot of iPod Touch devices, but the current model is underpowered compared to what’s essentially an iPhone SE with Wi-Fi-only capabilities. Apple could price the sled for $100 and include one year of Apple Arcade — normally $4.99 a month — for free. Of course, the iPod Arcade, being an iOS device, would be able to run every single application in the App Store, as well.
Chances of seeing a new iPod next week? Ten percent. Chances of seeing one in the next few months? Perhaps 40%.
With everyone sitting at home and needing to use video conferencing tools for the foreseeable future, many of us are seeking higher-quality webcams for use with desktop PCs and Macs.
Frankly, many webcams now on the market integrate poorly with Macs and come with sub-par software utilities. Only Logitech and Microsoft appear to be shipping high-volume webcam products. And they are in such high demand that it’s even difficult to find them in stock now.
Also: CNET: Webcam reviews
Apple could easily repurpose the same wide-angle 12MP camera sensor used for selfies on the iPhone 11. They just need a small clip-on housing with USB-C/USB-A connectivity, LED illumination for nighttime use, and a decent mic, and have it plug-and-play with not just the Mac but potentially an updated Apple TV. Apple could even put FaceID sensors on it in a more advanced model.
Apple could charge $99 for the basic model and $199 for the FaceID version. And, yes, Apple could make it work on Windows, too. Finally, Apple could add a beefed-up FaceTime for handling corporate video calls and price that as a value-added-service.
I think we can agree that this is something those of us who are fans of Apple’s products would love to see, but chances of seeing one next week? I’d have to say nonexistent.
Evidence of the existence of these tiny RFID or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices have been found in the source code of iOS releases going back as far as iOS 13, and they can also be found in iOS 14. The idea is similar to that of Tile, which has had a product on the market for several years now and sells for $99 for a pack of four. The idea is that you attach them to items that you might potentially lose, such as a handbag or your car keys or even a pet. iOS’s Find My app is then used, presumably, along with the Ultra Wide Band (UWB) chip in late-model iPhones, to locate that item.
They’ve reportedly been in development for at least two years and the inclusion within iOS’s code has been around for a while, so I expect the chances of seeing them at the Sept. 15 Time Flies event to be around 20%, with chances increasingly higher during an iPhone event in October or November.
Speculation about an Apple Services bundle has been occurring in the mainstream press for over a year. Is it going to happen? It’s simply a question of when.
The company has already engaged with the bundling of CBS All Access and Showtime for $9.99 a month for Apple TV+ subscribers, so it makes perfect sense that Apple will do it with its own services. All indications are it’ll likely launch alongside the iPhone in October or November of this year. But for the Sept. 15 event? I’d put it at 5%, with much higher chances of it appearing alongside renewed Apple TV hardware.
Edit: We now know that the service is called “Apple One”.
Would these lower-cost Apple products completely disrupt competitors at these configurations and price points? Talk Back and Let Me Know.