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Rumors Running Wild as Sept. 10 Draws Near

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Aug 23, 2013 5:00 AM PT

Apple fans are gearing up for the Big Event on Sept. 10 and -- drumroll, please! -- the introduction of its next iPhone.

Rumors Running Wild as Sept. 10 Draws Near

By now company watchers have agreed that the following is the likely go-to-market blueprint for Apple this time around: The company is introducing two devices -- one with its usual high-end features, sleek design and iterative upgrades; the other, a cheaper device to tap new markets both in the U.S. and overseas.

The thing with Apple, though, is that "low end" and "cheaper" are relative terms. The company must balance its desire for market share and greater reach against its prestige factor. Apple products are not shoddy, they are not ugly and they certainly are not for just anyone -- or so the brand story goes.

All of which is fine and lots of fun when critiquing the latest Apple ad campaign (for example: Apple's ad agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab has been highlighting niche, artistic apps for the iPad, including a set of drawing apps, foodie apps and music apps, Mashable reports).

When pricing those new, "cheap" iPhones is added to the mix, however, that luxurious brand story is more of a burden than a blessing. What dollar value must Apple never ever drop below for it to retain its luxury aura, but still make inroads in these new markets? Especially emerging markets where a US$300 device might as well be, for many people, priced at $300,000.

Apple handled this issue quite well with its iPad. When that device first debuted, and ever since, there has been a range of tablets and price points based on how feature-rich the consumer wanted his new toy to be.

This time, though, it appears Apple will have to make a commitment to one price unless the company has managed to keep secret that its "cheap" device is actually a series of cheap devices.

Apple's Security Play

Is Apple getting ready to deploy some serious security? The supposed inclusion of a fingerprint sensor in its upcoming device suggests that indeed it is.

Now, before Apple fan boys and girls jump on that statement, security is an issue for Apple as it is for any entity or device that connects to the Internet.

For years Apple has been able to get by on the fact that not many hackers were interested in its system. Unfortunately that translated into the conventional wisdom that Apple was safe from computer malfeasance. No, it wasn't -- it was safer, but never completely safe.

With Apple set to release its next iPhone in September -- and possibly another one in October -- guesses as to what it will offer are flying fast and furious. Fingerprint sensors are an oft-cited suggestion, and Macworld makes a good case for why Apple would include such niche technology: It could serve as part of a two- or three-factor authentication process.

MIT Technology Review provides some timely, if unwitting, backup to this premise.

The article there tells of a Georgia Tech study in which researchers slipped malicious apps past Apple's review process to wind up in the App Store. As it turns out, the company's review process runs some of the programs for only a few seconds.

Is the iRemote on the Horizon?

Also in the past several days, Apple acquired Matcha.tv, a startup that offers a comprehensive overview of the content available on TV.

Apple hasn't formally commented on the acquisition and, after all, it is quite tiny by Apple's lights. The deal has had analysts scratching their heads momentarily -- is Apple picking up the company to keep competitors away from the technology? (It happens). Is this Apple's way of moving deeper into television content? Or might it be the beginnings of one of the many rumored products that Apple is said to be developing: an iRemote.

Matcha.tv, after all, organizes content cable providers to streaming video and over-the-top services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

Alternatively, it could just be that Matcha.tv is part of Apple's push to beef up Apple TV. This, actually, is the most obvious choice -- Apple has in general been inking deals to fluff out content on the platform.

Vevo just signed a deal with Apple to come to Apple TV, for instance, and Apple also recently forged deals with HBO and ESPN.

Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.

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