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Apple's Spring Loaded Event Showcases Apple Silicon and Some Extras

With a record-setting Q4 under its belt, Apple had plenty of new to announce in its April event. The focal point of the event was the company’s two-year transition to Apple silicon within its tablet and Mac portfolio. However, there were other interesting announcements besides spring tablet and Mac upgrades:

Green boast: Apple is adding new environment initiatives. All stores, offices and data centers are running on renewable energy. Apple’s entire supply chain will be carbon neutral by 2030. In addition, this week Apple and partners announced the Restore Fund, a $200-million investment which aims to remove at least one million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere. Apple’s packaging is 100% sourced from virgin wood fiber from responsible sources. The iPhone 12 family uses 93% fiber-based materials. Even the screen protector, which in the past has been plastic, is fiber-based. Admirable changes!

Apple Card: Not much has been released on the actual numbers on Apple’s credit card. However, Apple calls it a very successful card launch. Apple has focused on helping equality within credit scores and card history. It allows spouses and partners to share credit scores, which helps with credit card scoring equality. New benefits from Apple Card Family plans are offered in addition to Apple product discounts when purchased with Apple Card. Makes sense for Apple faithful.

New iPhone color – purple!: The iPhone 12 family has been a tremendous success for Apple – its first 5G smartphone. To help with lifecycle management efforts, the iPhone 12 will get a new color – purple – at the end of April. Despite rumors of a quicker end-of-life, the iPhone 12 Mini will also get this color update. New, mid-life colors are not the draw they once were. Apple, with its big mid-life product marketing campaigns, will draw enthusiasm with the interesting new color which is very big with millennials.

AirTag: Long rumored, finally announced. The $29 AirTag can attach and track, for example, a backpack, luggage, or keys. Apple’s ‘precision finding’ taps into the iPhone 12’s U1 chip, camera, accelerometer and gyroscope to guide a person to a lost item. We suspect the Apple base will love these. It also puts a stamp on Apple’s privacy messages. These are not for tracking people and there is no data collection taking place. A point Apple will be making often in 2021 about its devices.

Apple TV 4K: New seasons of Ted Lasso and other Apple originals en route. On the hardware side, the A12 Bionic supports HDR in high frame rates, which will especially enhance sports viewing. Note, Dolby Vision is already supported. Fun, interesting, and new to Apple TV is color balance testing, which is advertised as improving a TV’s picture quality. An iPhone 12 can be used to measure a TV’s color balance. Apple will accommodate any inaccuracies in your TV’s settings and improve the color balance. How? Put your iPhone 12 up to your TV screen with the front-facing camera one inch from the TV screen. Color measurements are taken by the iPhone’s light sensor. The iPhone will compare your TV’s color balance with industry standard specifications. Apple TV will automatically tailor the video output to improve any inaccuracies in the TV’s picture settings. The benefit will be more natural colors and improved contrasts.

The other upgrade is the Siri remote. The key upgrade here is a new five-way navigation click pad. The outer ring can be used for precision fast forward or reverse to get an exact scene, play, or pitch.

iMac update: The large upgrade announcements were the Mac and iPad. Much anticipation as the company converts the Mac and iPad portfolios over to its own silicon. Here is what was announced. A new M1 chip built from the ground up for Mac is the centerpiece. Spec brags include 85% faster speeds and other GPU and CPU improvements. Earlier integration helped Apple consolidate separate chips onto a smaller logic board. Apple added an additional fan which is quiet—under 10db. The new Mac is an impressive 11.5mm thin. Another upgrade was sound. There is a six-speaker system which will be great for sports and movies. With mics which have improved focus on voice, it has improved videoconference capabilities.

Finally, in Apple’s grand launch fashion, the new Mac is launching in seven vibrant colors. The aesthetics and form factor are improved. The 24-inch display fits into the same footprint as previous gen 21-inch display. The new Mac is available on April 30, priced at $1,299. The ethernet connector is housed within the power cable, something which has been done in the past but is rarely done. Helps keep the desk tidy if one is still preferring a cable connection.

iPad Pro: Two iPad Pros were announced — 11 inch and 12.9 inch models. Both are powered by the M1 – Apple’s homegrown silicon. The speed brags over previous versions include 50% overall jump in performance, 75x faster CPU, and 40% faster graphics performance. As always, we must wait to put them to the test when available in the wild. The devices support external 6k display resolution. Relevant for the times, the ultrawide camera keeps people in the videocall even if they move slightly to the left or right. The 12.9” version has the latest ‘Liquid Retina XDR’ display which has a 1 million to 1 contrast ratio, 120Hz touch-sensing rate, and 100 nits full-screen brightness. The displays incorporate mini-LED technology – improving HDR and reducing the footprint. Mini-LED and integration of its own chip helped Apple produce a device which is only 6.4mm in thickness, 1.5 lbs heavy, and has an all-day battery life. It is also the first tablet supporting mmWave, which is very important to US operators and will give it the distinction of fastest 5G connected tablet.

The iPads will be available second half of May, prices starting $799 for the 11-inch version and $1,099 for the 12.9 inch version, both 128GB. There are four memory configurations, all the way up to 2TB. Opting for a 2TB version will double the price. Great hardware upgrades. It will be interesting to see if it is getting into Mac/Notebook price tier, or if it is not an either/or for the Apple faithful.

For complete details of the newly announced products and Apple hardware forecasts, contact info@counterpointresearch.com

Jeff has 25+ years experience in technology research, business development, competitive intelligence, and business management. Prior to joining Counterpoint Research, Jeff held various research & product development roles at Microsoft, Nokia, Roth Capital Partners, and Gartner. Jeff is a member of many telecom industry organizations including Colorado Wireless Association, repair.org, CommNexus, and is a regular speaker at major telecom industry events. He was a 4x NCAA all-American in tennis and is a 12-time finisher of the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.

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