With Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) having already confirmed that the unveiling of the iPhone 6 will take place at a special event in September, at least some of the attention of Apple fans and observers will now turn to other potential product lines. And you don’t need to be Nostradamus to guess where a lot of the attention will fall.
The iWatch is on its way
The iWatch, Apple’s forthcoming smartwatch to rival the Samsung Galaxy Gear, is surely one of the worst kept secrets in the history of consumer electronics. It is an absolute certainty that Apple will release this product at some point, despite the fact that the corporation itself has yet to confirm its existence.
Nevertheless, with Apple under pressure to produce new product lines and revenue streams in the short to medium-term future, the appearance of an iWatch from Apple either this year or in the early part of next year seems to be an absolute certainty. And the analyst community is already speculating on what form and shape this much anticipated Apple products will take.
One such belief is that the iWatch will be coupled with Apple’s recent iWallet mobile payment platform to create a payment system which is truly hands-free. In true consistency with Apple’s clandestine approach to its products, the iWallet remains very much under wraps, but recent activity has given quite considerable insight into what can be expected from it.
On July 31, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple which reveals new security control features for the iWallet application. The control system related to it will apparently enable parents to define boundaries for children’s spending, and allow the ability to track all purchases with the app. Although it is unknown whether this particular function will feature in the iPhone 6’s portfolio of features, already Apple observers are envisaging how it could fit in with Apple’s product range. And one analyst believes that the iWallet would go ideally hand-in-hand with the strongly rumoured iWatch.
iWallet key to iWatch strategy
Last week a new rumor surfaced which suggested that Apple’s iWallet could work closely with Visa’s Digital Solutions sometime in the next year or so. This would very much tie in with the opinion of Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected analysts and consultants, who foresees that gigital payments could be an extremely compelling part of a wider mobile strategy for Apple, and is likely to be central to its forthcoming ‘wearable’ products.
Bajarin has also suggested that Apple may create some sort of personal digital ID which can then be tied to all types of Apple application. Bajarin suggests on his Tech.pinions site that this would not only be a killer application for Apple, but that the iconic brand would in fact be stupid not to put such a system in place.
The analyst also proposes that Apple should instigate a tiered pricing structure for the iWatch and other related wearable tech products. Bajarin suggests that some sort of ‘iBand’, which would feature less functionality than an iWatch, but be more affordable as a sort of entry-level device, could be a particularly viable product for Apple. He envisages this iBand combining ID verification with health and fitness tracking, which could come via Apple’s HealthKit initiative and HomeKit framework.
This proposal would very much corroborate Apple’s presumed strategy for the iPhone 6. It has been thought for many months that Apple will release at least two models of the iPhone 6, with a phablet-sized premium device being partnered by a more affordable traditional smartphone option. The barrier to companies such as Apple entering the smartwatch market has been the fact that it can still be considered an extremely niche product line; thus any Notion which enables the product to become more broad-based in its appeal would obviously suit Apple’s desires.
iBeacon to be utilised
Aside from the obvious logic driving these predictions, there is another element to consider which would make them seem even more like common sense from Apple’s perspective. It is not that long ago that Apple launched its iBeacon location awareness technology, which is intended it to be a rival to the established Near Field Communications (NFC) system, and offer similar functionality to Apple users. If Apple could couple this technology with TouchID fingerprint scan capabilities then it could become a very attractive system for developers.
Essentially, the model being proposed by Bajarin would be not dissimilar to what Google and PayPal have been doing with mobile payment systems. And Apple has yet another Ace of its sleeve; iTunes in fact provides them with the largest credit card database of any company on the planet. According to available figures, Apple has more than half a billion credit cards on file from its iTunes music service. It’s easy to see from this that Apple would have the credibility required to enable it to entice retailers and credit card companies to get on board with such a service.
Apple has made its name from offering two in one combinations; not least with the iPod and iTunes itself. While an iWatch has been anticipated by virtually every one interested in consumer technology for quite some time, it may be that Apple needs such a two in one combination as iWallets and iWatch in order to make manufacturing the product truly worthwhile.