Production delays may have sidelined the new iPhone for now, but Apple is charging ahead with its annual product-launch event, holding a scaled-down event inside its "Apple Park" in Cupertino.
Apple has delayed the unveiling of its next-generation iPhones, though photos have leaked on social media, prompting a wave of criticism of the device's new camera setup. The company has blamed the delay on the pandemic and production-related issues for the delay.
Earlier this year, Apple unveiled the iPhone SE, its budget-conscious (and size-conscious) alternative to its larger phones, marking the first time it launched an iPhone without a product event. It's the first time in 8 years that Apple has held a product launch event without a new iPhone.
This is the first time in 8 years that Apple is holding a a product event in September without a new iPhone. Even Apple couldn’t overcome the manufacturing problems sparked by the pandemic. #AppleEvent— Roger Cheng (@RogerWCheng) September 15, 2020
Instead, it's expected that the event will focus on the iPad and Apple Watch, while the iPhone 12 will debut in October.
Longtime Apple analyst Tim Bajarin, known for his bullishness, appeared on CNBC earlier to discuss today's product launch, which will be unique, just like so many other events this year. He repeated the line, favored by Apple, highlighting the company's services business, since the company has already announced that it will delay the launch of some products that it will be introducing today.
With sales of Apple's iPhone declining, Apple has put the word on the street that Tuesday's event could introduce its new Apple services bundle, effectively the entertainment equivalent of Microsoft's Office suite.
Mainly, it has done so by finding ways to sell subscriptions for music, TV and cloud storage. Analysts have long expected Apple to bundle those products into one offering, like Microsoft did with its Office suite in the 1990s, or the company's "Amazon Prime" killer. Rumor has it Apple will announce a bundle as early as Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.
Health care - specifically new health-related features involving the Apple Watch - is also expected to be a focus. The company's new Apple Watch offerings, which include a lower-cost alternative designed to compete with FitBit, will be closely scrutinized by analysts looking for evidence that the company's investments in medical technology are finally paying off. As WaPo says, six years in the tech world is a lifetime, but in terms of medical innovation, which moves slowly and laboriously due to regulation, it's a blip. The event has been named "Time Flies" after the watch.
The event is the second one streamed online from its Silicon Valley campus, known as Apple Park, since the global pandemic forced it to switch to virtual product launches. Apple themed the event “Time Flies,” an apparent marketing tease for its watches. The company could also unveil some updated iPads — but no new phone is expected yet.
While the absence of the iPhone’s shadow at Tuesday’s event may just be a quirk of pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions that Apple says have delayed production of its next smartphone, it also offers Apple an opportunity to showcase its six-year effort to break into the health-care industry. The Apple Watch is the physical manifestation of the company’s health-care play, and perhaps the most important but least understood prong of the company’s new business model anchored around services rather than gadget sales. The announcement also comes during the peak of a global pandemic in which the conversation about health and technology has accelerated.
Of course, if there was ever a perfect time to show off new health and wellness-related features, that time is now - in the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic.