“I think people came to this event, and they knew it was not going to be 5G; they made peace with it a long time ago,” she says.
“Obviously, next holiday season is a different thing.”
Although there is a lot of talk about 5G in nerdier circles, Milanesi doesn’t think it’s a mainstream concern yet.
“The thing to bear in mind in this process is that the people who will get 5G now are early adopters,” she says.
“Those are the customers that change their phone every year. … It’s not even a case of ‘I’m going to wait and see until the iPhone 12 comes out’, because [they’re] going to change it anyway. So there’s no real risk in buying today and waiting for tomorrow.”
The only real hardware surprise was that the Series 5 Watch has an always-on screen, with Apple opting for that feature over improving battery life for sleep tracking. Many consumers have listed battery life as one of the reasons they wouldn’t buy an Apple Watch. It is a bold move that might not pay off. There was also a new entry level iPad.
The big surprises were reserved for Apple Arcade and Apple TV+. With most streaming services priced around $10–$15 a month, and Apple being known for their lofty price tags, people keen for the prestige TV shows with major casts and heavy-hitting creative teams were bracing themselves for an expensive monthly price.
The shock in the audience was palpable when it was announced that both services were only $US4.99 per month each (they’ll be $7.99 in Australia), with enthusiastic applause at the news that TV+ would be free for a year with the purchase of a new device.
Add that to the sight of Jason Momoa in a new show about an apocalyptic world, reminiscent of The 100 but with blindness instead of space evacuation, and suddenly TV+ seems a lot more competitive than anyone expected. Though, with so few shows currently announced, and the drive to give away free subscriptions with new devices, it does come across as more of a perk with purchase that people have the option to pay for.
It was those services announcements, along with reduced prices for the older Watch Series 3 and iPhone XR, that were Milanesi’s big takeaways from today’s event.
“For me, it’s the ecosystem as a whole looking at hardware now as a way to best set up the user to take advantage of the services,” she says.
“For a long time it’s always been the services adding value to the hardware, which they still do. But now the hardware, with the price points being where they announced them, is helping to get consumers to the services. I don’t know if co-dependent is the right word to use, but [I like] that stronger link between the two.”
The Series 5 Apple Watch, Apple Arcade and new collection of iPhones are available in Australia on September 20, while the new iPad releases on the September 30. Apple TV+ is available November 1.
The author travelled to California as a guest of Apple.
Alice is a freelance journalist, producer and presenter.