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The new iPhone is a gamble aimed at a specific audience

And other talking points from Apple’s event earlier today.

Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

WITH A NEW iPhone and iPad Pro announced and out of the way, the next couple of months are going to be intriguing for Apple as it tries to correct a couple of industries.

Here are the main talking points from the hour-long event.

A smaller iPhone shows that Apple knows where its audience is

Smartphones have been getting bigger and bigger with 5-inches becoming the norm for many manufacturers.

Apple wasn’t entirely immune to this by releasing a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone for the last two years but despite the good sales of those devices, an expected downturn in sales for the iPhone meant a change in tack was needed.

So it announced the surprisingly powerful 4-inch iPhone SE and what audience is it aimed towards? Well, the answer is casual users.

Apple Source: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The two key reasons before the reveal, according to Apple’s Greg Joswiak, were how many people’s first phone was a 4-inch device and how Apple sold 30 million iPhones of that size last year.

The phrasing for the second reason is specific for a reason and is brought into perspective when you consider that 200+ million iPhones were sold last year.

Still, there is a purpose to all of this. While many Android devices are hovering around the 5-inch mark, there’s a sizable audience who just want a phone to fit in their hands and just do the job they want.

At the same time, those users don’t want to spend vast amounts of money on a phone so whether the SE is priced well enough for that market, despite it being the lowest launch price for an iPhone so far, remains to be seen. Apple needs that audience if it wants iPhone sales to increase again but convincing a cash-tight demographic to pay is a gamble.

This won’t affect Apple’s next quarterly report as it’s too late to be registered but come July, who knows if the iPhone sales juggernaut will correct itself and grow again. Either way, it’s a move Apple has to make.

Apple Source: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Things for the Apple Watch (and smartwatches) are going to get worse before they get better

“It’s the best selling smartwatch in the world,” said Tim Cook as he raced through a bunch of small updates for the Apple Watch. And by small, we meant different types of coloured bands being announced for it.

Yet that statement, while impressive sounding, doesn’t tell the full story. So far, Apple has sold more than seven million watches since it launched this time last year and while it’s a very new area, it pales in comparison to the iPhone sales which saw 13 million units sold in the space of a weekend.

The significant part was the price reduction down to €379 for the cheapest model, which tells you a lot. Overall, it’s still not at the point where the average person sees it as a worthwhile purchase.

It might sway some people over, but there’s still going to be another year or two at least before they start gaining traction.

Apple Source: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The smaller iPad Pro has a much bigger aim

During the smaller iPad Pro (9.7-inches for those wondering) announcement, one comment its head of marketing Phil Schiller made was how it was aimed towards Windows users since many iPad Pro users came from Windows computers.

Whether you think that statement is true or not depends on how much you like/hate Apple but it does touch upon an important point. The average Windows user, much like the average iPhone user, isn’t necessary a power user. Chances are many people just want simplicity and function over openness and it could be the case here.

Part of that evolution towards a hybrid laptop includes a number of accessories like the wireless keyboard, the Apple Pencil – which amazes purely for how the praise for it goes into overdrive – and now the inclusion of USB and SD card adapter.

The last two are a typically-Apple compromise since it didn’t add USB ports to its original iPad Pro, but it could help pave the way for hybrids to grow in popularity, if not among the general public, then among creatives (who it seems to be aimed towards).

Apple Source: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The brighter the light, the darker the shadow

If there was something noticeable about the event as a whole, it was the things that weren’t mentioned. Granted there’s only so much you can fit into a one-hour event, but Apple’s constant focus on the positives – with milestones being regularly mentioned and the phrase ‘our best ever lineup’ almost losing all meaning by the end of it – only highlighted certain exclusions.

The obvious one was Apple Music, its music streaming service which launched in June, but wasn’t mentioned at any point, with recent reports suggesting that 10 million are paying for the service.

Apple 3D Touch was one of the big features for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus but is absent from the iPhone SE. Source: AP Photo/Eric Risberg

The other one was 3D Touch, which was introduced with the iPhone 6s range. Being able to tell the difference between a hard and soft press, it hasn’t really caught on with users and while it’s only six months since it was brought in, it was telling that it wasn’t included with the SE.

The other potential reason for this was not including it ensured the cost of manufacturing it was lower and allowed it to keep its €499 price tag. But chances are the casual audience that Apple aims towards – and to its credit, it does this extremely well – wouldn’t use it that much or even remember it’s there.

Speaking of noticeable absences.

Yet after all of that

It was a pretty boring event compared to other Apple events, this one covered a lot of ground but for good reason.

The SE and iPad Pro, Apple mentioning its case against the FBI over unlocking a phone, an iOS update, Apple TV, HealthKit, its environmental impact (while important, does not make an event interesting), and Apple Watch were not announcements that were going to set the world alight.

Still, considering how cringe-y the Apple Music launch was in June, we should probably count our blessings.

Read: Make sure you don’t ignore those download requests on your iPhone tonight >

Read: Apple’s new iPhone is a lot smaller (and a bit cheaper)* >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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