Apple Fall Launch 2018: Apple Watch Series 4 Steals the Show

Apple, the first company to touch a trillion dollar market cap, announced a series of new additions to its premium portfolio of consumer smart devices. All launching this fall. The following are our quick observations as the event unfolded with a focus on Apple Watch Series 4.

Apple was the world’s leading smartwatch brand in Q2 2018 (see here), however, nine out of ten Apple Watch shipped were Series 1. This has put pressure on Apple on how it is going to attract iPhone users to buy a more advanced and expensive Apple Watch models. We think Apple Series 4 is a great launch and could compel power iPhone users to upgrade or buy this new $399 Watch.

Apple Watch Series 4:

Apple is positioning Apple Watch as an “intelligent guardian for your health”. The focus on health is relentless and transforming into a powerful mHealth device.

⌚️Stunningly beautiful design with stainless steel body and ceramic back
⌚️35% larger display than Apple Watch Series 2, almost borderless
⌚️The display change means a complete UI redesign for Apple Watch apps. Not much evidence how this will affect WatchOS developers
⌚️The custom ‘complications’ on the watch face are detailed and generally well-thought through to leverage the screen real estate
⌚️The hypnotic Breathe live watch faces make it more lively, fun and differentiated, especially the fire and water droplets. These small additions sometimes drive stickiness for some users
⌚️Digital crown now has haptic feedback, which should assist the intuitiveness of the UI
⌚️Developers will need to leverage the haptic crown for different apps to drive some new interactive experiences
⌚️The engineering (ceramics) on the back promises better RF performance along with new mics and positioning for better a watch-calling experience

 Two new revolutionary features in Watch Series 4:
1. Fall Detection
⌚️Falls are a leading cause of injuries, so detecting a fall accurately and taking appropriate actions can be important
⌚️Apple Watch S4 can now detect a fall by using the accelerometer, gyroscope and software algorithms
⌚️The Watch delivers an alert after it detects a fall and, if immobile for a minute, also automatically dials an emergency contact.

2. Apple Watch Heart Sensor Improvements & ECG

⌚️Heart rate (low or high) alerts powered by optical sensors
⌚️Heart rhythm monitoring powered by optical sensors
⌚️ECG can now be done using the Watch 4 with electrodes built into the digital crown and a new electrical heart rate sensor in the back crystal
⌚️With the app, users touch the digital crown and, after 30 seconds, receive a heart rhythm classification
⌚️The heart beating is classified as a normal pattern or carries signs of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), a heart condition
⌚️All recordings, classifications and symptoms are stored in the Health app in a PDF which can be shared with physicians.
⌚️Addition of ECG capability is the most differentiated and meaningful feature for the Series 4
⌚️FDA approval for ECG on Series 4, speaks volumes of how far Apple has come with Apple Watch as a meaningful health device
⌚️ The ECG App is coming only to the USA this year. This will limit the appeal of the feature until it can achieve similar certification in other markets.

With Apple Watch Series 4, Apple has cemented its leadership in the smart watch category. Innovations such as fall detection, ECG has widened the gap with competitors. Further, an ecosystem of quality developers will leverage these features even further, driving adoption. With base model at $399 (GPS) and $499 (GPS+Cellular) it could be slightly expensive for many and could drive up sales for Series 3 cellular ($379) instead.

On the negatives side, battery life, while slightly better than previous versions of Watch, is still poor. Watch Series 4 maybe able to last for most marathon runners in GPS tracking mode, but it won’t last for a lengthy hike in the mountains or an Ironman triathlon. This means it still can’t compete in the serious athletic devices category of watches, that Garmin still dominates.

Neil is a sought-after frequently-quoted Industry Analyst with a wide spectrum of rich multifunctional experience. He is a knowledgeable, adept, and accomplished strategist. In the last 18 years he has offered expert strategic advice that has been highly regarded across different industries especially in telecom. Prior to Counterpoint, Neil worked at Strategy Analytics as a Senior Analyst (Telecom). Neil also had an opportunity to work with Philips Electronics in multiple roles. He is also an IEEE Certified Wireless Professional with a Master of Science (Telecommunications & Business) from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.

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