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The Critical Path #98: Kicking and Streaming

Horace and Moisés look beyond Apple’s rumored “watch” project to contemplate the real reasoning behind recent executive acquisitions from the world of high fashion (and what it signals). Is Apple now driving “lifestyle” more forcefully than ever? We examine redefinition, from public face to product, and Mac Pro to (possibly) iPod nano.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #98: Kicking and Streaming.

  • Sartux

    Have you considered Apple’s relationship with its authorized resellers? Maybe they’d rather play nice with them for a while longer.

    About the “iWatch”, I’ve been thinking that it could actually serve communication needs quite successfully. All sorts of notifications and messages right on your wrist (or pocket) and the ability to send and receive short voice messages could use a limited data plan or even be used only on wifi, thus lowering the high recurring cost in expensive data plans for iPhones.

    It would be a great companion device for iOS devices (imagine the possibilities!) while still being useful alone, thus positioning itself great as a simple communication device (and some more) for those who can’t afford an iPhone or simply don’t want or need a full on computer in their pocket. A camera could also be quite useful as a communication tool (think Snapchat) and together with M7 capabilities it would be a perfect hiking or “adventure” device. The addressable market could be even larger than the iPhone’s. It could also have a strong halo effect, for once you get one, the chances of you buying an iPhone rise considerably. That could be the way they’re planning on expanding downmarket, with a premium product that both the wealthiest and the “poor” could buy.

    • Moisés Chiullan

      The messaging I’m sticking with is that Apple has to hook people with a reason for a “little buddy” device. On its own, just as good as a nano ever was for kids to adults. Their ideal is for it to then become much more “superpowered” alongside their clear arch-Hero product, the iPhone 5S. It has to make sense as the Robin to its Batman, etc.

      • Sartux

        The M7 and the apps that use it might be that hook. Also, being able to stay on top of whatever notifications or communication channels you deem important, a camera, and an easy way to communicate casually (short voice messages which could even be transcribed) when ‘out and about’ (be it walking the factory floor at work, chilling at the beach, hiking, going to a concert, or any sport activity) I feel is a pretty compelling use case and has an addressable market of basically everyone (even Android phone users who might purchase an iPhone next).

  • Les_S

    Maybe the iWatch’s job to be done is to mine and manage the big data that represents me. Not me aggregated at places like Google but the personal aggregations that reflect my life and help me automate, summarize and assist me. The places I go, the stuff I do.

  • Denis

    Like Horace said, there are a lot of jobs the “iWatch” could do. Personally, I don’t believe that it will be a watch, that it will have a display, that it’s about communication or that it’s name will be iWatch.

    If we had to release it right now, what would it be?

    My guess is, that the first version will be about healthcare, fitness and also emergency. Imagine you are alone, have a heart-attack and you don’t have a phone near by you. Would be nice to just push a button on your wrist to call the ambulance.

    The more interesting question is, what will it become?
    What about these two things?

    1. Collector of personal data.
    2. Connector for all your devices and services.

    I think, the whole wearable stuff is more about personal computing than about communication. Or let’s say it’s not about communication between people, but communication between devices.

  • Walt French

    So Horace said Apple will hire 1700 people at the ex-Dell factory to build (initially) the new Mac Pro.

    So here’s a SWAG: assembly costs are all of 5% of the product cost. (Those CPUs, GPUs and RAM are much bigger costs than the little iPhone stuff, and the assembly is much less exotic.) If the Mac Pro goes for $2000, that’s $100 of assembly cost, or about 3 hours of a $75K (including benefits) employee.

    3 hours is ridiculous. Frankly, 20 minutes seems more likely, but let’s say 1 hour of assembly labor to watch/help the robots move parts into place and connect stuff that can’t be automated.

    Now we have 1700 people X 2000 hours (Mac Pros) per workyear, or 3.4 million Mac Pros. (At my 20 minute estimate, 10 million.)

    But Pros are surely a tiny fraction of the maybe 20 million Macs that might get sold in the coming year. Ergo, this factory is gearing up for something quite different than banging out a lot of Pros. What would be a good reason to move the currently successful iPhone, iPad or iMac lines? The only one I can imagine is the customization angle that Moto cited.*

    It might be OK for an Apple TV location — close to its #1 market — but I’m having a tough time understanding why Texas would be the right place for an iWatch factory — which needs the extremely well-developed miniaturization and close-work labor at which Hon Hai and Pegatron excel.

    So I’m using this over-capacity, together with the oddball fact that Apple’s been running ads for Mac Pros in movie theaters, as suggesting that there’ll be a MacPro themed AppleTV / game device. Coming soon to an Apple retailer near you.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Interesting.

    • Space Gorilla

      Yes! A beefed up Apple TV Pro with lots of on board storage, tons of processing power, third party controllers perhaps, and a great library of existing iOS games. I’d pay a lot more than $99 for that.