Monday, September 20, 2021
Ios/Mac

Different Think: Apple Just Launched Too Many Products



It’s a late posting for Different Think on this particular Tuesday, for the fairly obvious reason that Apple’s California Streaming event was always going to render whatever I wrote instantly out of date. I thought it was best to wait until I finished writing about the iPhone 13, and that took ages.

Fortunately I was joined in tonight’s endeavours by a large squadron of crack journalists, who were able to write about the other wares on show at Apple’s event. The Apple Watch Series 7, of course; the iPad mini 6, naturally; and the iPad 10.2in (2021), which seemed a bit dull by comparison, but is probably a sensible purchase.

Chuck in updates related to TV+ and Fitness+ and it’s been a weirdly crowded evening. And I’d like to take this opportunity to complain a little about Apple’s eccentric scheduling.

There are 12 months in the year, but the calendars at Cupertino seem to be missing a few pages. For one reason or another Apple clusters together its big announcements into three bottlenecks through the year: March/April, June, and September/October. And one of those tends to focus on software; this year we went from April to September with no significant hardware launches. As I’ve lamented in Different Think before, Apple loves to take the summer off.

A five-month hiatus in the middle of the year followed by a splurge of four products within 90 minutes – and with another 90-minute splurge expected within weeks – is a strange way to run a railroad. It leaves potential customers confused (the long wait for a new set of AirPods has undoubtedly lost Apple market share in the earbuds market, and that wait now goes on) and means that important launches like a new Apple Watch get lost in the noise of even bigger ones like a new iPhone. The Apple Watch Series 7 and the iPad mini 6 are both significant enough to deserve an event to themselves; competing with the mighty iPhone, another iPad and a couple of subscriptions services does them no favours at all.

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Perhaps Apple’s marketing wonks have it in mind that people in search of iPhone news are a captive audience, and that the company might as well market a couple of tablets and a smartwatch at them while they’re on the stream. And who am I to question the finest marketing operation in the world?

But it does seem counterintuitive. The iPhone fans aren’t going to be paying attention during the iPad bits, and may log off in frustration. (Do people still say “log off”?) The Apple Watch fans are likely to give up before the iPhone comes on. And anyone who makes it through the whole thing will be overwhelmed with information and frankly exhausted. Which I don’t think is the ultimate aim of a clever marketing campaign.

If Apple could only be persuaded to spread its announcements out a little more, it wouldn’t need to rush so much, and fans wouldn’t have to listen to so much stuff they’re not interested in. Virtual events mean there’s no need to fly members of the press halfway round the world, and therefore no need to make the most of their presence while they’re there. You can easily hold three virtual events in three consecutive months, as Apple did in the autumn of 2020; I’ll blow your mind here, but you can even hold events in the other three seasons of the year.

All of which ignores, however, what I think is the most important point of all: writing about lots of products is tiring for journalists. And if journalist welfare isn’t a priority for Apple right now, I’d like to know why not. 

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Different Think is a weekly column, published every Tuesday, in which Macworld writers expose their less mainstream opinions to public scrutiny. We’ve defended the notch, told Apple to stop being so successful and argued that nobody needs a foldable iPhone. See you next week!





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