Small is beau­ti­ful, too, say Ap­ple’s iDe­vices

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Contents - By Bran­don Bai­ley AP Tech­nol­ogy Writer

CAL­I­FOR­NIA — As it strug­gles to match the suc­cess of its big-screen iPhones, Ap­ple is now con­tend­ing that small can be beau­ti­ful, too.

The gi­ant tech com­pany showed off down­sized ver­sions of its sig­na­ture iPhone and iPad Pro tablet on Mon­day, hop­ing they’ll ap­peal to first­time buy­ers and those who have shied away from the big­ger-screen mod­els Ap­ple has sold in re­cent years.

At a time when over­all smart­phone sales are slow­ing, Ap­ple touted its new four-inch iPhone SE as the “most af­ford­able” new phone the com­pany has of­fered. While it comes with an up­graded cam­era, faster pro­ces­sor and other fea­tures, the SE has a start­ing price of $400, or $50 less than the older iPhone 5S that it’s re­plac­ing. By con­trast, the iPhone 6S Plus, which had been Ap­ple’s new­est and big­gest phone, starts at $750.

The com­pany also knocked $50 off the price of its Ap­ple Watch, showed off some new bands for the wear­able gad­get, and an­nounced some soft­ware

en­hance­ments for its mo­bile de­vices and the Ap­ple TV sys­tem.

Ap­ple’s spring prod­uct event came one day be­fore the tech gi­ant is set to square off with au­thor­i­ties in federal court over the FBI’s de­mand for help un­lock­ing a mass shooter’s en­crypted iPhone. The dis­pute has dom­i­nated head­lines in re­cent weeks, as Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook ac­knowl­edged in brief re­marks at the open­ing of Mon­day’s event.

“We did not ex­pect to be in this po­si­tion, at odds with our own gov­ern­ment,” he said. “But we be­lieve strongly that we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to help you pro­tect your data and your pri­vacy.”

Few of Mon­day’s an­nounce­ments sur­prised in­dus­try ex­perts. An­a­lysts say Ap­ple clearly hopes the new de­vices will broaden its ap­peal and get more peo­ple to use the lat­est ver­sions of its lu­cra­tive on­line ser­vices — such as Ap­ple Pay, Ap­ple Music and the mo­bile App Store — at a time when over­all sales of Ap­ple’s sleek iDe­vices are level­ing off.

“We’re at a point, in a ma­ture mar­ket, where it’s about hav­ing niche prod­ucts that sat­isfy dif­fer­ent needs,” said vet­eran tech in­dus­try watcher Bob O’Don­nell of Tech­nal­y­sis Re­search.

Ap­ple is pack­ing some new fea­tures into these smaller pack­ages. The new SE, for ex­am­ple, has the same four-inch screen as the iPhone 5S that Ap­ple be­gan sell­ing in 2013. But the new phone has the com­pany’s lat­est A9 pro­ces­sor, a 12-megapixel cam­era and a secure chip that al­lows the use of Ap­ple Pay, the com­pany’s dig­i­tal pay­ment ser­vice. Ap­ple Pay was pre­vi­ously only avail­able with iPhone 6 and 6S mod­els.

Ap­ple hopes the phone will ap­peal to first time buy­ers as well as those who find larger mod­els cum­ber­some, said Ap­ple ex­ec­u­tive Greg Joswiak. He said the com­pany sold 30 mil­lion 4-inch iPhones last year.

But most an­a­lysts ex­pect the new phone to sell mod­estly com­pared to the com­pany’s other mod­els. And while they may give Ap­ple a boost dur­ing the his­tor­i­cally slow spring and sum­mer months, an­a­lysts say the new de­vices may not be new or dif­fer­ent enough to com­mand the ex­cite­ment Ap­ple’s other re­cent releases have en­joyed.

“It’s not go­ing to be a big block­buster,” said O’Don­nell.

(AP PHOTO)

WHAT’S NEW? Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook, an­nounces new prod­ucts at Ap­ple head­quar­ters last March in Cu­per­tino, Cal­i­for­nia, such as new bands for the Ap­ple Watch.

(AP PHOTO)

Ap­ple’s new 4-inch iPhone SE smart­phone.

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