Though big-ticket launches mark Apple’s September events, this year’s was far from usual. The launch lineup was a fair one. The last major iPhone launch has been followed, as always, with incremental upgrades—the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Apple TV, awaiting revamp since 2010, catches up with rivals and comes with a choice of purpose-designed apps, especially for gaming.
Apple-watchers, though, are ambivalent about the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil, the $99-stylus that Apple isn’t calling a stylus. The tablet space has seen lukewarm growth given the leaps in smartphone technology and
the propensity of consumers to treat tablets as a secondary computing device, but Apple seems to believe a bigger tablet with better specs could remedy that. Pencil represents a segment Steve Jobs had famously declared an anathema. Jobs had remarked at an Apple event that a stylus could never be as intuitive as a finger—which is perhaps why the Pencil was introduced as a “precision input device”. Predictably, the internet has made joke-fodder of it.
This year, though, Apple struck much bolder poses than before. Its iPhone Upgrade plan ends a symbiotic arrangement with network operators in the US—the latter attached iPhone-financing deals to subscriptions to drive sales. The Upgrade plan is likely to upend the two-year, fixed instalment deals that operators offer by giving the new basic iPhone for $32 a month for two years, with the option of annual device upgrades. A new instalment plan kicks in when you turn in the old phone at the end of the year and receive a new one. Essentially, you are on a permanent EMI with Apple. The other bold change was Apple adopting a collaborative tone, welcoming Microsoft’s attendance at the event. At earlier events, Microsoft was pilloried not just as a monopolistic adversary but also a copycat. But this year, Microsoft and Adobe showcased their software tailored for iPad Pro. After Jobs, life-changing products are yet to be seen, but there’s definitely a refreshing change in the leadership’s attitude.