Notes from the iPhone 6 event

Apple made a lot of announcements today.  Here are a few things that stood out to me that may be a little under the radar of the big tech blogs. iPhone 6 Differentiation:  There are some subtle features (other than size and price) that differentiate the 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus from the 4.7" iPhone 6.  The 6 Plus's screen is larger, and also has more pixels at a higher density.  The camera on the 6 Plus has optical image stabilization, which helps reduce shaky videos and blurry photos, while the 6 only has digital image stabilization.  The 6 Plus has a larger battery, which gives it better battery life across various use cases.  However, the increase in battery life from the 5s wasn't quite as much as I'd hoped for.  The 6 Plus's software also makes use of the larger screen in landscape mode in some apps, much like the iPad does.  For example, you'll see a list of emails on the left quarter or so of the screen and the current message in the rest of the screen.

None of these features alone should be enough to convince average consumers to buy the 6 Plus over the 6.  They do help justify the $100 price premium, especially for users concerned with battery life or photo enthusiasts.

Margins:  The introduction of the 6 Plus at a $100 premium to the (already premium) 6 and some tweaks to pricing of storage tiers should be a boost to Apple's gross margins.  The base models of the 6 and 6 Plus both come with 16GB of storage, but an extra $100 bumps up to 64GB (instead of 32GB on previous iPhones), and they added an additional 128GB tier.  The 5s also starts at 16GB, but an extra $50 now gets you 32GB.  16GB is starting to feel pretty small, and this will likely entice more users to spend a little more to get more storage.  That extra $50/$100+ is basically pure profit for Apple.

Branding:  We got Apple Watch and Apple Pay, not iWatch and iPay.  Will the 'i' prefix be deemphasized for future products and features?

Cloud Security:  Apple didn't address last week's iCloud breach.  They did unveil Apple Pay, which stores information in the cloud, but not actual credit card numbers.

Speaking of cloud, the live stream itself was atrocious.  It cut out at least a dozen times, froze my Apple TV twice, and there was a very annoying and distracting Chinese language audio stream layered on top of the English stream for about the first half of the event.  Apple gets a lot of things right, but cloud stuff just isn't one of them.  I can't help but think Google wouldn't have had these problems.