iPhone 6: What does Apple have to reveal Tuesday to stay on top?

September 7, 2014

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It’s been a while since we’ve had a true ‘Apple moment’ at one of its press events. Tuesday’s expected introduction of the iPhone 6 (and possibly more) could end that drought.

All signs indicate Apple plans to come out swinging this time — determined to regain the attention of former customers who have drifted toward larger Android devices in recent years.

That would certainly be entertaining to watch, but it’s not going to be easy to accomplish. To woo away the Android faithful, Apple needs to make Samsung, the leader in Android devices, look outdated — and it needs to amaze increasingly jaded consumers.

For the past few years, Samsung has had little to no competition in the large-screen smart phone space. The expected introduction of a pair of larger iPhone models could erase that advantage. Reports indicate Apple is preparing to roll out both a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 (compared to the 4-inch iPhone 5 and the 3.5-inch iPhone 4).

That levels the playing field a bit, but size isn’t everything.

The iPhone 6 also needs a feature set that outshines the recently unveiled Galaxy Note 4. Samsung turned heads with its presentation at Berlin’s IFA tech conference last week, showing off a device with a 64-bit processor and bountiful storage capacity. It also upgraded the quality of the Note’s camera, but not quite as much as some fans had hoped it would.

That opens a potential door for Apple, which will likely roll out a second-generation 64 bit processor and camera upgrades of its own.

It can’t stop there, though.

Near-field communications  — or NFC — is a janky tech term that the average consumer may or may not have heard, but its convenience cannot be overstated.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster puts the odds of Apple integrating “some payment feature” technology like NFC into the iPhone 6 at about 70 percent – and that could be the real differentiator for the device.

Apple’s long-time ally Disney has best showcased the convenience of NFC technology with its MagicBands – wristbands theme-park attendees can wear that act as admission tickets, hotel room keys and payment devices. Now picture that in your day-to-day life, coming from the one device you always have on you.

Paying for your groceries by tapping your phone against a scanner? Paying for gas simply by entering a code at the pump (and having it charged directly to your credit card)? That’s head-turning stuff.

To drive NFC home, Apple also needs to announce a long list of payment and retail partners. If no one accepts the payments, it isn’t going to matter how cool it is.

That same NFC technology, of course, could — and should — be integrated into the iWatch (or whatever Apple decides to call its smart watch), but is this finally the moment the long-rumored device will be revealed?

It’s been a while since Apple has introduced a truly new hardware product. (The iPad made its debut in 2010.) And while the company has been doing just fine financially, some detractors have noted Apple seems to have lost some of its innovative edge since the death of founder Steve Jobs in 2011. A strong debut for the iWatch could mute those criticisms.

The iWatch, though, needs to avoid the failings of its smart watch predecessors. Competing devices from Samsung, LG and Motorola have all been knocked (rightfully) for their poor battery life. (The just-released Moto 360, according to some reviews, needs to be charged mid-day.) And, for the most part, smart watches have been, well, ugly. Neither of those scenarios is acceptable for a mass audience.

Apple has design chops. And, as it has transitioned into making its own processors, it presumably has improved device battery life. Both of those could work to its advantage.

Beyond that, though, the company needs to make the iWatch a tech gadget people lust after – as it did with the iPad in 2010 (which went on to sell 14.8 million units in its first nine months – blowing past the most optimistic expectations of every analyst).

That means it will have to do more than relay email, text or phone messages the way its Android cousins do. It will have to incorporate health-tracking information from HealthKit, the body-monitoring system that will be incorporated into iOS 8, and HomeKit, which lets Apple devices communicate with and control connected devices in a user’s home.

Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt if it comes with a reasonably low price — but that’s one surprise we probably shouldn’t expect from Apple.

PHOTO: Men are silhouetted against a video screen as they pose with Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 820 and iPhone 4 smartphones (L-R) in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, May 17, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

8 comments

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They keep missing the pont:
— Android is all about, and only about, gadgets
— Apple is about an integrated user experience that incorporates hardware, software, support, infrastructure, and integration.

Yes, they have the gadgets… But they have a whole lot more.

But the small minded media likes to compare the gadgets.

Posted by GeorgeBMac | Report as abusive

Does Apple make a better product? Well yes and no. Depends on the user. Is their product worth more than the other offerings? No. If they want to really compete they need to do so on price too. There is no way apple product do or should cost more than others. It’s mostly hype and perceived coolness

Posted by notveryamused | Report as abusive

The big thing that keeps me from embracing Apple is the lack of ANY standard interface. Charging has to be done through an Apple-specific device and port, I can’t use a USB stick, etc. These items are obviously intended to bolster the aftermarket for various goods. The consumer (and my users) are not stupid. Apple hasn’t brought enough to the table lately to warrant that kind of arrogance. I suggest re-tooling to allow for things like USB interfaces. Once this is done, some of the resistance towards Apple will be broken down and the user base will come back.

Posted by GreaterGood | Report as abusive

“What does Apple have to reveal Tuesday to stay on top?”

I don’t know. But given WSJ’s consistent track record of poo-pooing Apple announcements that went on to keep them number one in smartphone profits, I’m hoping Apple isn’t listening to them. I’m sure not.

Posted by thismarty | Report as abusive

“Samsung turned heads with its presentation at Berlin’s IFA tech conference last week, showing off a device with a 64-bit processor”

…which runs…what? A 64-bit version of Android doesn’t yet exist(outside of developer’s previews).

…and people called Apple releasing a 64-bit iPhone (simultaneously with 64-bit versions of iOS and 64-bit apps) a useless gimmick. Sheesh.

Posted by pdq3 | Report as abusive

me too, I ate one sour too..

Posted by rikfre | Report as abusive

[…] iPhone 6: What does Apple have to reveal Tuesday to stay on top? The expected introduction of a pair of larger iPhone models could erase that advantage. Reports indicate Apple is preparing to roll out both a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 (compared to the 4-inch iPhone 5 and the 3.5-inch iPhone 4). That levels the … Read more on Reuters Blogs (blog) […]

Posted by Lastest Iphone 4 News | Report as abusive

I love how you write – deep and soulful truths, revealed simply but has such a profound impact. Thank you for writing this, I love where you say, iPhone 6: reveals on Tuesday with new features. Thanks

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

[…] iPhone 6: What does Apple have to reveal Tuesday to stay …2014. 9. 7. – It’s been a while since we’ve had a true ‘Apple moment’ at one of its press events. Tuesday’s expected introduction of the iPhone 6 (and …http://blogs.reuters.com/grea t-debate/2014/09/07/iphone-6-what-does-a pple-have-to-reveal-tuesday-to-stay-on-t op/ […]

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