Facebook Debuts Phone-Centric Vision for AR

Facebook is holding its F8 developer conference today in San Jose. Its first-day keynote covered a lot of ground, but the major theme was augmented reality. The comment below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan can also be reached via email at jan@jackdawresearch.com for further comment and is also on-site at F8.

Facebook has been slow to get into augmented reality and related technologies, focusing instead on the more mature but less mainstream virtual reality. This year’s keynote shows Facebook is serious about catching up in this area and competing with Snapchat and others. What’s interesting given Facebook’s ownership of Oculus is that Facebook is very focused on the phone and not a headset for its AR vision, at least for now. It still sees glasses or even contact lenses as the eventual outcome, but for now is working on phone tools, which places it in direct competition with Snapchat.

The new tools and apps Facebook demoed on stage today around augmented reality are impressive, but most of them won’t be in users’ hands anytime soon. Mark Zuckerberg’s closing remarks on AR were notable for their tone of expectation management, and he made clear that this is going to be a long road, with the vision he outlined today playing out over years and not weeks or months. But having come into this market late, Facebook is clearly getting aggressive now, and the demos on stage actually looked better than the similar Snapchat features announced earlier today. They won’t all be available right away, but Facebook has the resources to move fast in this area and the audience to spread those features much more widely than Snapchat. All of this is setting up a really interesting competition between not just these two companies but also others which will enter the market. The big question is who will capture developer interest and importantly give those developers opportunities to make money.

Facebook also overhauled its Messenger Platform, which launched last year, and went as far as to call it Messenger Platform 2.0. That kind of separation from the version launched a year ago is smart, because the first round was ill thought out, with the vision for bots both too expansive and not nearly detailed enough. In the year since, Facebook has made a lot of progress, and the version of bots it now offers to developers is much more compelling and better suited to the kinds of things it will be used for. Facebook is also getting better at serving small and medium sized businesses, which continue to make up an enormous chunk of the total base of businesses in many markets. That’s important because these businesses represent the biggest future opportunity for Facebook advertising, which is already well penetrated among larger enterprises.

Lastly, Facebook introduced its first social VR product, which is critical to unifying its main business and its Oculus business. Facebook Spaces is a VR app which allows avatars of up to three friends to interact in a virtual space, and seems like it would be a lot of fun if you had several friends who also had really expensive VR rigs. The big challenge is that for the vast majority of people on Facebook, none of their friends will have the technology, and so the best they can hope for is calling out via Messenger Video to share their virtual worlds with real-world friends. Though these experiences will come to other, cheaper VR platforms in time too, the narrow reach of Oculus VR and VR in general highlights why Facebook is smart to start working hard on AR, which has much more mainstream potential.

Samsung Announces Galaxy S8

Samsung today announced the Galaxy S8, its latest flagship smartphone. The comment below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan is also at the event in New York City, and can be reached at jan@jackdawresearch.com or 408 744 6244 for further comment.

Samsung’s new phone taps into one of the biggest trends in smartphones this year: smaller bezels. This move follows LG and Xiaomi’s recent small-bezel phones and pre-empts what’s expected to be a similar move from Apple and new iPhones later this year. The Samsung approach is particularly clever, with its curved screen now less sharp on the edges, offering a more symmetrical and therefore more comfortable device. Its display looks fantastic too, though the longer, thinner aspect ratio may be problematic for some apps and consuming video.

The other headline features in the S8 seem interesting in principle but will have to live up to their promise to be compelling in practice. The Bixby assistant looks limited but potentially powerful if it works as advertised. The same can be said for the new iris and facial recognition features and Samsung’s connected home hub and apps. The move of the fingerprint sensor to the back of the device is a source of potential frustration for users, but those iris and facial recognition options should make unlocking the phone in other ways possible, at least in decent lighting. Samsung hasn’t fared well with its first party software or services in the past, so these new features are a big test of whether it’s made progress here.

The price of the new phones is up to $100 higher than their predecessors and almost all of the premium smartphones they’ll be competing with, which feels like a big risk. In this as with the bezels, it feels like Samsung is competing with what it expects Apple to launch later in the year rather than what’s in the market today, and that’s dangerous, because for at least the next few months Samsung will competing with cheaper iPhones, LG smartphones, and many others. That’s a big bet that its phones will justify a higher price, whereas it could have used these new phones as a way to drive higher sales after a couple of years of stagnation.

Samsung also released several accessories and other devices which are being positioned as part of a broader ecosystem, including a new version of its Gear VR headset, an updated 360-degree camera, and a home WiFi hub and smart home control system. The new Gear VR should be much more usable than the previous version with its terrible trackpad controller, while the new Gear 360 will be much better suited to use as an action camera compared to the predecessor, which was designed mostly for stationary use. The home hub taps into a popular trend of mesh WiFi networking, and along with Samsung’s ConnectHome app finally starts to build some more meaningful connections between Samsung’s phones and its broader ecosystem, including SmartThings.

YouTube TV is Another Reminder of How Hard it is to Disrupt TV

YouTube today announced YouTube TV, a new online pay TV service which will cost $35 per month and offer content from the four major broadcasters and their affiliates. The comment below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan can also be reached for further comment at jan@jackdawresearch.com or 408 744 6244. A version of this comment was posted earlier at Tech Narratives, where Jan weighs in on the day’s major tech news stories. 

YouTube TV is a great reminder of just how hard it is to truly disrupt the traditional US pay TV ecosystem. Like the other services we’ve seen previously, it looks like YouTube is determined to hit a $35 price point and has had to make a series of arbitrary decisions about what should be in or out in order to achieve that. In its case, the focus is on the four large broadcasters and their affiliates, but that means it excludes the Turner channels, HBO, AMC, and lots of other popular content. That includes some major sports content, especially basketball, which detracts from YouTube’s message here that this is a great package for sports fans. The other big limitation is local availability, since YouTube only has deals to offer channels from local affiliates owned by the broadcasters. This continues to be one of the big barriers to true disruption in pay TV, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

Every over the top streaming alternative to traditional pay TV is handicapped in at least one way, and often several. YouTube TV will offer cloud-based DVR as a differentiator, but the missing cable networks are a big downer. This is basically a four-way deal with the big broadcasters and their cable affiliates, but it means if you want any of the other networks you’re still going to have to buy Sling, DirecTV Now, Sony Playstation Vue, or whatever else comes down the pike later this year. There’s a certain irony to the fact that, though these services are nominally disruptive, they actually offer even less choice individually in many cases than the pay TV services they’re aiming to replace. We’re still a long way from being able to choose a bundle of channels that makes sense to us, rather than having to buy a bundle someone else configured for business reasons.

T-Mobile Shakes Up Phone Numbers Just As They Stop Mattering

T-Mobile today announced a limited customer beta of Digits, a new technology which allows customers to use their phone numbers on multiple devices and use multiple phone numbers on a single device. The comments below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan may also be reached at jan@jackdawresearch.com or 408 744 6244 for further comment.

T-Mobile is shaking up phone numbers at a time when phone numbers are less relevant than ever. Between VoIP calling services like Skype, over-the-top messaging services like WhatsApp, and built-in carrier-independent calling and messaging apps like FaceTime and iMessage, phone numbers and phone calls are less relevant today than ever before. As such, T-Mobile’s innovation here would have been much more meaningful five or ten years ago than it is today.

There is real innovation here, though – T-Mobile has used industry standard technology like IMS and the HLR function as enablers, but has added its own special sauce to create a new device-independent approach to phone numbers, and that’s impressive. T-Mobile claims that it would take years for competing carriers to replicate this approach, and they’re probably right. As such, this is a unique technology and service that T-Mobile can use as a competitive differentiator, to the extent that it’s appealing to potential customers.

It’s worth noting that by T-Mobile’s own description, this is a limited customer beta, and it shows. For now, the features only work fully on high-end Samsung devices, whereas on all other devices they will feel much the same as any other VoIP or messaging app downloaded from an app store. That may change over time on other Android phones, but it’s going to be very tough to achieve the same sort of integration on an iPhone. That’s going to make iPhone users second-class citizens for the service for the foreseeable future, but it’s also less likely that iPhone customers would be interested, given their access to FaceTime and iMessage, as well as Handoff and other features which make cross-device use easy. Meanwhile, T-Mobile recommends customers using Digits switch off iMessage and use standard carrier messaging to make use of it, which won’t go down well with many iPhone users.

I see the multiple device features mostly as a loyalty play, although T-Mobile will pick up some new customers attracted by the feature too. The multiple line feature sounds appealing for those using business and personal phones, but the phone number is usually only a small part of dual device use. Companies often have email and other confidential data on devices which needs to be secured, and simply offering a second phone line on a single device doesn’t meet any of those needs. As such, this feature will likely only be relevant to those companies with a voice-centric approach to corporate devices, which will limit its appeal to a small subset of the 30 million T-Mobile is touting here.

Beyond all this, there’s the question of pricing, which hasn’t been announced yet, though T-Mobile has made clear that there will be a cost once the beta ends. T-Mobile has said it will be compelling, but for now we have to take their word for that.

Apple Updates the MacBook Line and Takes Baby Steps Towards a TV Service

Apple today announced three new MacBook Pros and also introduced a new TV app for the Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone. The comments below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan is also at the Apple event and can be reached at 408 744 6244 or jan@jackdawresearch.com. 

Apple now has the most compelling and coherent lineup of laptops it’s had in several years. But Apple’s laptops no longer enjoy the kind of big hardware advantage they’ve had in the past. Instead, what we’re seeing is an increasingly stark difference in the philosophical approach taken by Apple and Microsoft in relation to touch on devices. Whereas Microsoft this week reemphasized its touch displays for Windows PCs with the Surface Studio, Apple reserves full touch displays for its iOS devices and focuses on the horizontal plane when it comes to interaction with Macs. The Touch Bar and larger trackpad reinforce this sense that Apple thinks you want to interact with your laptop while keeping your hands down rather than constantly reaching up and touching the screen. The Touch Bar clearly borrows heavily from some of the work done in recent years on iOS including predictive text and emoji translation, but does so in a way that’s optimized for the Mac, while Microsoft’s approach is more about the same interfaces everywhere. Apple has also come up with some clever adaptations for the Touch Bar based on the context, and it will be interesting to see how third party developers use this feature – there’s a lot of potential there. Touch ID will be a nice addition for security and online payments.

If you focus just on the most recently released devices, Apple’s laptop lineup now runs from the 12” MacBook through the more powerful new MacBook Pros, with sizes from 12 to 15 inches and weights from two to four pounds. This should provide options for everyone from those needing basic performance through to professionals working with processor-intensive creative apps, while every model in the lineup is now more portable as well. Apple is also borrowing from its iPhone and iPad strategy in keeping older devices around while the focus will shift to these newer models. The more powerful MacBook Pros are also now viable substitutes for desktops in all but the most demanding workflows, especially when paired with the new LG displays. Interestingly, the new models all feature the older Intel Skylake processors rather than the newer Kaby Lake processors, because the specific chips Apple is using don’t have equivalents in the Kaby Lake line yet.

Apple’s new TV app seems like yet another incremental step in the direction of a TV service. The biggest flaw in Apple’s vision of the future of TV being apps is that there are just so many apps (1600 video apps on the Apple TV alone), and dipping in and out of them isn’t a great user experience. The TV app provides a unifying interface that overcomes the fragmentation associated with an app model and brings much of the relevant content together. The big piece that’s missing at this point is live TV, which still requires individual apps, though Siri can help launch those. The new TV app should make Apple TV easier to use, and create something more analogous to the programming guides on pay TV services. However, Apple’s ability to get holdout app makers like Netflix on board will determine how useful the app ultimately is – the proposition breaks down pretty quickly if major apps are missing.

Microsoft Makes a Creativity Push

Microsoft today made a set of announcements including a new high-end all-in-one Windows PC called the Surface Studio as well as a new version of Windows 10 called Creators Update. The comments below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan may also be reached at 408 744 6244 or jan@jackdawresearch.com.

Microsoft has been refining its identity and strategy since Satya Nadella took over as CEO, and much of that focus and strategy has been centered on productivity and helping people get things done. That vision has married well with Microsoft’s renewed emphasis on business products and services, but it has also reinforced the sense that Microsoft doesn’t get consumers, or at least the consumer halves of its users’ lives. Microsoft has needed a rallying point for a set of efforts around consumer use cases, and it appears to have decided on creativity as the catchphrase for this push.

This new creativity emphasis includes both new creative tools within existing products like Windows and Office, and new hardware in the form of the Surface Studio and the existing Surface product line. Microsoft seems determined to challenge Apple’s historical edge among professional creatives, but it is also making a play for the creative element within a broad base of consumers and professionals. The Studio is a high-end PC that’s going to be out of reach for the vast majority of consumers, most of whom will be left with traditional PCs that don’t have all the capabilities Microsoft showed off today. But Microsoft’s new Paint 3D app and other enhancements in the new version of Windows 10 are more mainstream attempts to establish Microsoft as a creativity brand. Of course, with only 400 million of well over a billion worldwide users of Windows on Windows 10, many of Microsoft’s current users won’t see these enhancements anytime soon.

Though today’s products are a good start, it takes a long time to change deeply-entrenched perceptions, and Microsoft has its work cut out in trying to convince potential customers that its products are more than just the workhorses they’ve always been for many. Workflows and cultures in many creative companies are built around Apple products, and that won’t change overnight. However, Microsoft’s timing for these new products is great, coming at a time when Apple has been accused of neglecting its creative community. Apple, of course, has its own event on Thursday, and will get an opportunity to make its case for its own vision of the future of computing. It’s also easy to overestimate the role creative professionals play for Apple – though its Mac base was once heavily skewed towards these users, it’s long since broadened its appeal well beyond those users an well into the mainstream. Though losing creative professionals as a constituency might be painful for some at Apple, its mainstream appeal is what matters, and it needs to shore that up with its announcements this week and beyond.

Some quick thoughts on other topics:

  • Microsoft’s promotion of VR headsets from its OEM partners today is the first sign we’ve seen that Microsoft might be rethinking its focus on augmented rather than virtual reality. Given that HoloLens is likely to continue to struggle to achieve mainstream appeal, supporting a more consumer-friendly VR push by laptop makers is a smart move, although $299 PC-based VR solutions may struggle against smartphone-based versions at $100-200 which are more portable.
  • The Surface line at Microsoft continues to be a high-end proposition, will all the products in the line remaining at premium price points. That’s a great way to build a premium brand, and also to generate high margins, but it also competes with Microsoft’s OEMs at the most lucrative end of the market, while limiting its sales. Revenues for the entire Surface line continue to be a tiny fraction of those for other PC vendors.
  • It’s interesting to see both Microsoft and Google now effectively incubating fairly compelling hardware divisions within their companies. Google’s recent push into hardware with the Pixel, Home, and Wifi products and Microsoft’s growing Surface line are indications that both companies are more serious about hardware, and about competing with Apple on its own terms.

AT&T Time Warner Deal Risks Repeating History

AT&T tonight announced that it will seek to acquire Time Warner. The comment below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan also published a blog post earlier today which provides a more in-depth look at AT&T’s current consumer strategy and the context for the merger.

The AT&T Time Warner deal is straight out of AT&T’s recent consumer playbook, which has been focused on entertainment and building value by combining assets to create unique consumer benefit. The best previous example of this was the acquisition of DirecTV and the subsequent zero rating of DirecTV data on the AT&T wireless network. However, the rationale for the Time Warner deal is much less obvious, and risks repeating history as it borrows from the rationale for the AOL Time Warner deal sixteen years ago.

AT&T sees the TV value chain compressing, with content owners like Disney and Time Warner investing in distribution, while distributors like Amazon and Netflix invest in creating content. It is fear of this compression of the value chain and what will happen to those who don’t participate that’s motivating this merger. But the deal is also motivated by AT&T’s desire to offer unique content and content features to its TV and wireless customers. And that’s where the rationale feels thin.

The problem with distributors buying content companies is that content benefits most from receiving the broadest possible reach, while distributors are always incentivized to make reach narrower through exclusives. This creates massive strategic tensions that are almost impossible to resolve – AT&T risks either hurting Time Warner by restricting access to its content, or making its own differentiators too narrow out of fear of hurting Time Warner. Buying a large existing content asset with massive distribution is a very different value proposition from creating brand new content in-house with exclusivity designed in from the beginning. And at $84 billion, AT&T is paying a massive amount for minimal synergies and a thin layer of theoretical differentiation. We need look no further than Comcast’s acquisition of NBCU to see a recent example of the failure of a content-distribution tie-up to deliver any meaningful synergies.

Google Sacrifices Partners to Pursue Hardware Ambitions

Google today announced a range of new hardware devices, from the Pixel phone to Google Home, Google Wifi, and a new Chromecast. The comments below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan is also available at jan@jackdawresearch.com or (408) 744-6244 for further comment.

Google today demonstrated that it’s finally serious about hardware. It now has own-label products in a handful of major categories, from phones to tablets to laptops, and from WiFi routers to home speakers and TV devices. After several years of both abortive organic efforts like Nexus Q and short-lived ownership of Motorola’s device business, Google seems to have finally committed to building its own hardware broadly. In and of itself, that’s a huge capitulation to a notion Google had long resisted – that both hardware and software are better when they’re built together by the same company. Given Microsoft’s similar strategy around the Surface and phones, we now have all three major companies in this space pursuing the same strategy, after many years of Apple ploughing this furrow alone.

Among the companies who won’t be happy about this are Google’s major OEM partners. Google’s relationship with OEMs like Samsung has always been complicated, but today’s announcements made it even more so, especially given that Google appears to be aiming both at the premium smartphone and VR headset spaces which Samsung currently dominates when it comes to Android. Unlike Microsoft, Google made no attempt to justify its entry into first-party hardware in competition with its partners – there were no claims of merely showing OEMs the way, merely a displacement of erstwhile partners in the value chain. Google is building its own relationships with carriers and supplanting device partners (with the exception of HTC, whose name was never mentioned). With Google Wifi, too, Google appears to have sucked all the value out of its year-long partnerships with Asus and TP-Link in order to leave them in the dust as it creates its own hardware in this space.

The hardware itself was solid, probably the best set of hardware Google has ever introduced. Google always seemed a promising player in the home speaker space pioneered by Amazon, and the Home doesn’t disappoint, at least on paper. Google has always been very good at voice recognition, and its knowledge base is second to none, so it’s in a very strong position here. The lower retail price and unique features like Chromecast and Google service integration, as well as the broader availability of the Google Assistant are all positive differentiators over Echo.

The Pixel phones are clearly being positioned as peers to the iPhone, which the Nexus devices never were – even the pricing is identical. And the fact that the cameras look very good is a critical counterpoint to the iPhone. And yet in most respects Pixel won’t be any better than most other Android smartphones out there – rounded icons and faster software updates won’t be enough to offset the premium pricing, narrow carrier distribution, and consumers’ familiarity with Samsung and other existing vendors. Google is still fighting an uphill battle when it comes to mainstream adoption of its hardware beyond Chromecast, and there’s little here to suggest that this will change anytime soon.

Daydream View is an interesting new entrant in the VR space. Google has clearly thought through some of the design challenges of existing devices in the market and come up with some useful innovations. Given that such devices will mostly be used at home, the external colors likely aren’t that important, but the consideration Google has given to comfort and ease of use will be a useful differentiator. The pricing is aggressive, too – among the major players, only Google’s own Cardboard, which is the very definition of a minimum viable product – is cheaper. But of course for now the Pixel is the only phone that supports Daydream, and it’s not clear when other devices will hit the market.

Apple Checks Another Enterprise Box with Deloitte

Apple today announced a partnership with Deloitte to work on several fronts in the enterprise. The comment below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan may also be reached at (408) 744-6244 or jan@jackdawresearch.com for further comment.

The reality is that Apple is not first and foremost an enterprise technology provider, but almost all big companies now have a fleet of iPhones somewhere in their business, and Apple wants to make sure those devices perform as well as possible and are integrated into the companies’ business processes. The Deloitte deal gets at how companies can make the most of the iOS devices they have and the employees who use them, because that’s something Apple isn’t able to help them with in depth. Whereas Apple can sell and support iOS devices itself for generic uses, Deloitte can provide much deeper expertise around horizontal business functions and for specific vertical industries than Apple ever could.

The Deloitte relationship builds on several previous partnerships Apple has announced with IBM, Cisco, and SAP. Each of these partnerships is part of a strategy by Apple to augment its own skill set in the enterprise with help from partners. IBM brought enterprise mobile application development and a big sales team, Cisco brought networking optimization, SAP brought massive reach through its back end software for business transactions, and now Deloitte brings business process transformation expertise.

Deloitte is an interesting choice, given that Apple’s existing partner IBM has many of the same skills in its Global Business Services unit. But I expect Apple wanted to broaden its partnerships and felt Deloitte had specific skills in relation to digital transformation which it wanted to leverage. Though Deloitte and IBM compete on the consulting front, none of the new areas Deloitte will partner on with Apple are competitive with the earlier deal with IBM. Interestingly, like IBM, Deloitte has a big base of iPhones internally – 100,000 iOS devices are in use in the company – so it’s arguably eating its own dog food here too.

Apple hasn’t talked a great deal publicly about the size of its enterprise business, but just under a year ago it said on an earnings call that its enterprise revenue was around $25 billion on an annualized basis, which was a little under 10% of its total revenue during that period, and had grown by 40% year on year. It’s easy to imagine that enterprise revenues are around 10% of Apple’s total revenues at this point, and growing faster than its consumer revenues, so this is an increasingly important area of Apple’s business, especially when it comes to driving growth.

What Apple has to ensure moving forward with each of these partnerships is that it actually gets the promised value out of them. These partners get a good PR boost from announcing high-profile partnerships with Apple, and doubtless get a lot of benefit from that. But the challenge with such partnerships is often making sure that customers really see the benefits, and that the anticipated revenues actually flow. Apple and its partners have talked on earnings calls and elsewhere about the apps and features they’ve built, but less about the financial benefits of these deals, so it’ll be worth watching out for more information about this on future earnings calls.

Apple’s Event Highlights its Unique Approach, Tests its Storytelling Ability

Apple today announced the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. The comment below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan may also be reached at jan@jackdawresearch.com or (408) 744-6244, and is also at the event in person.

Apple has rethought the Apple Watch significantly since its first release. It’s refocused the line, eliminating some of the earlier tiering, and has also refocused the purpose of the Watch. Apple’s original emphasis on apps and communication has faded into the background as health and fitness features have come to the fore. With Series 2, Apple appears to be focused mostly on the health and fitness features, while hoping watchOS 3 will finally spawn the apps the Apple Watch has arguably lacked in its first year and a half on sale. In the process, prices have come down fairly significantly too, especially on the Series 1 Watches. The new features and upgrades combined with the lower pricing for older Watches should help stimulate sales, but we’re talking about incremental growth and not a step change here.

The iPhone 7 packed few surprises given the many leaks over recent weeks. But the story and positioning around the new devices were always going to be the most important part of today’s event. Phil Schiller made a point of first talking up the iPhone 7 camera and its improvements before moving on to the iPhone 7 Plus and its dual cameras. And he also talked about the history of both the 3.5mm audio interface and Lightning, and the advantages of Lightning, while Jony Ive talked about Apple’s long push towards wireless interfaces. There will certainly be some people who prefer smaller phones who will be upset that the best camera is exclusive to the 7 Plus, but history suggests these advances will make their way down the line in future devices. And there will be those who are upset by the death of the headphone jack, but Apple will largely neutralize those concerns by providing an adapter in the box. Overall, the advances in this year’s phones on top of those in last year’s devices should make for a fairly significant upgrade for the typical two-year upgrader. This event was a big test of Apple’s ability to continue to tell a compelling story around its annual product upgrades, and early sales of the iPhone 7 will be a good indicator of whether it succeeded in weaving a narrative that people find compelling.

Overall, Apple’s new devices are typical of what’s now a fairly well-developed approach. It has used its ownership of the whole device to marry hardware and software advances in areas from camera performance to the new EarPods to the new home button. But it also continues to rely on partners like Nike, Hermès, and Nintendo to add value to its devices with accessories and software which go beyond what Apple itself can provide.

Two other things worth a brief mention. Apple managed to scoop itself on Twitter, which marks a rocky debut for the new @Apple Twitter account. The tweets were quickly deleted and didn’t share too much detail, but were an unfortunate distraction and detraction from the main event. The other thing worth noting is Tim Cook’s continued focus on social good at Apple – the time spent on the ConnectED grant and Apple’s part in it were an element of his traditional opening monologue. This focus on doing good in the world continues to be one of the main things that sets Tim Cook apart from Steve Jobs as CEO at Apple.