Apple introduced a new TV set top box that is responsive to voice commands as well as new iPhones which sense the pressure of a finger tap. However, social media commenters and investors were notably underwhelmed by the demonstration despite massive hype in the lead up to Apple’s yearly product unveiling.
CEO Tim Cook spoke in front of thousands of analysts, journalists, and Apple employees about Apple’s quest to conquer the workplace as well as the living room. Perhaps the most interesting moment was when he brought an executive of rival Microsoft on stage in order to demonstrate the business-friendly features of the new iPad Pro. The new, much larger tablet, runs Microsoft Office.
Yet investors were not impressed, as Apple shares fell 1.9% to $110.15 by yesterday’s close. This result seems to reflect the lack of transformative products by Apple. According to BTIG research data, shares of Apple have fallen by an average of 0.4% on the day of iPhone announcements over the past three years, making yesterday’s drop significant.
The newly released iPhones, the 6S and 6S Plus, are the same size as the previous version, but are equipped with a better camera and faster chips. They also come in new colors, and they feature what Apple refers to as “3D Touch”. Many analysts stated that the 3D Touch was not a good enough reason to upgrade to the new iPhones, raising concerns about sales estimates.
The iPad Pro also received few cheers, as many believed that it was too big and overly similar to Microsoft’s Surface tablet. The iPad Pro features a 12.9 inch screen and performance similar to that of a desktop computer. It also functions with an optional stylus referred to as the “Pencil”, which costs $99. The iPad Pro starts at $799.
In the midst of the mundane, it was AppleTV that really stole the show. The product, which has been called a “hobby” by Apple, will receive its own app store, and it will function with Apple’s digital assistant “Siri”. Twitter user Ethan Anderton wrote, “I’m all about this new #AppleTV. Shut up and take my money.”
Other users were joking that they would have to purchase a TV for the first time in order to make use of the Siri remote and the app store.
Yet even with AppleTV, which joins a crowded field including Netflix, Roku, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV, the reaction was decidedly wait and see.
Notably absent from the new TV interface was any sort of promise for new content, a hallmark of competitors like Netflix and Amazon. The lack of content comes despite well publicized efforts from Apple to negotiate deals with a greater variety of television networks to provide live or on-demand content.
In the streaming media market, Apple is falling behind. According to research firm Parks Associates, almost 20% of broadband households in the United States own at least one media player that streams online content. One-third of all streaming devices are Roku, which leads the charge. In second place is Google’s Chromecast, followed by the Fire TV from Amazon. The Apple TV is in fourth place.
Also mentioned at the conference was the popular Apple Watch. Tim Cook stated that customer satisfaction for the watch was at 97%. He went on to add that a new version of its operating system would be released by mid-September and that Facebook Messenger will soon be available on the device. Apple is currently working with French luxury goods maker Hermes in order to release a new watch collection.
Apple shares are currently up roughly 12% from last year, but they have fallen by about 14% over the previous three months as investors take a wait and see approach about Apple’s transition from smartphone maker to king of the living room.