Apple demonstrates its uniqueness at Apple Watch event

The comment below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst at Jackdaw Research. Jan may also be reached at (408) 744-6244 or

Apple demonstrated today why it’s unique among major technology companies. It combined technological innovations with partnerships with healthcare companies and the launch of fashion accessories.

In the healthcare space, many companies have tried to use technology to transform key processes, but the focus has been almost exclusively on transforming them from the enterprise out. What’s unique about Apple’s ResearchKit is that it works from the consumer-in. In other words, it empowers consumers rather than healthcare providers and in the process changes the healthcare research model.

Apple’s new MacBook extends Apple’s leadership in the PC space and illustrates exactly why Apple has been outperforming the rest of the PC industry for most of the last ten years. It advances technology in the key areas users care about – battery life, display quality and resolution, and above all usability. One concern is the reduction in the number of ports to a single USB-C port. While many peripherals now communicate through wireless rather than wired technologies, power, external microphones and other devices still rely on wired technologies. It’s likely that Apple will deal with this by providing adapters, but customers will likely have to buy new devices and cables to work with the new port. At the same time, Apple has clearly laid the groundwork with various wireless sharing technologies such as AirPlay, AirDrop and so on.

The Apple TV didn’t get the big upgrade some were expecting. The price drop reflects the fact that the device is now competing against sticks sold at $35 rather than simply boxes sold at $80-100. The HBO Now exclusive should be a big selling point for Apple TV, but the price change signals that Apple may be laying the groundwork for a bigger TV service push later.

The Apple Watch information provided today was relatively unsurprising, with little new information other than price. The prices weren’t entirely surprising either. The vast majority of sales will be for the Sport and Watch versions, and I expect Apple to sell around 20 million of these in 2015. The release of the Apple Watch will also catalyze the overall smartwatch market and help other vendors even as Apple comes to enjoy levels of market share it hasn’t had since the iPod. It will likely take some time for sales to ramp up, since most potential customers will want to look at the watches in stores and possibly even wait until early-adopter friends see and show them off. More broadly, the Apple Watch also demonstrates what only Apple could do among major technology brands, and that’s create a credible high-fashion device that can sell at every price point from $349 to over $10,000. No other technology company has the combination of technology chops and fashion and brand credibility to pull this off.

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