We get nearly all our official information about Apple and its products through occasional announcements or developers conferences, such as the big announcement this week in San Francisco.
As we approach each event, there are things we know, things we don’t know.
During the event, there’s a reshuffling. Some questions are answered during the announcement. And some questions emerge from the announcement itself that remain unanswered.
Here are the 6 biggest questions that were either unanswered in the event, or which emerged from the event.
1. Why won’t Apple add NFC? The benefits of near field communication (NFC) are myriad and overwhelming. It’s not expensive or space-consuming to include. Apple could use it to speed up the digital wallet revolution (right now I’ve got Starbucks awkwardly scanning a QR code on my iPhone screen when I buy caffeinated beverages.
It seems like a no-brainer. Apple already has our credit cards, mailing addresses and all the rest. Why not just add NFC and enable mobile payments?
I’m sure they have a good reason. It’s just that nobody has any idea what that reason is!
2. Why did Apple kill the Nano wristwatch? Two years ago, Steve Jobs announced a new, tiny iPod Nano with a screen, apps, the works. Jobs intimated that it was so compact, it could even be used as a wristwatch.
It launched a micro-industry of watchbands made for the Nano, some of which are even available from Apple.
Then, last year, Apple rolled out a series of watch faces, such as a Mickey Mouse watch.
It became obvious where this was going: The Nano is a wristwatch. The expectation was that Apple would make it thinner and lighter and smoother, and possibly add Bluetooth and other features that would make it an even better wristwatch, and an awesome companion to the iPhone.
Then, in one of the few surprises at the announcement this week, Apple announced that a new Nano that could not possibly be used as a wristwatch.
They appeared to be walking away from a market with huge potential. Why?
One possibility is that they’ll roll out an actual wristwatch, possibly at the October event.
But at this point, Apple’s termination of using a Nano as a wristwatch is something of a mystery.
3. Why won’t Apple ship a TV? Apple’s “hobby,” the Apple TV box, is getting old. To the best of anybody’s knowledge, there are no technical reasons why Apple could ship a big TV with Apple TV built in.
The limitations appear to be bound to the politics of Hollywood studios and cable company licensing deals.
So why not ship a TV anyway, and start iterating. The existence of such a product would probably help Apple strongarm the powers that be into agreeing to Internet-delivered live TV.
Nobody knows what Apple is waiting for.
4. Why does Apple work so hard to advertise a beta feature? I’m pretty sure that more money has been spent marketing Siri than any other “beta” product in history.
It’s not just that Apple labels Siri “beta” with an orange beta graphic on its web site. The feature is clearly rough and unfinished. Response times are slow. Words are often unrecognized. Even when Siri correctly recognizes the words, it responds with the wrong thing.
Fine. Nothing wrong with beta services. But Apple is spending unknown millions of dollars, often building entire prime-time TV campaigns around Siri as the sole selling point for the iPhone.
Why does Apple work so hard to build up consumer expectations about an unfinished, rough-around-the-edges beta product?
5. Why did Adam Cheyer leave Apple? Cheyer is the main guy behind Siri, and joined Apple when his company was acquired.
Whenever high-visibility people leave a company, whether they quit or were fired, they always say it’s for “personal reasons” or to “spend more time with my family.” Cheyer went with “personal reasons,” which tells us exactly nothing.
What we don’t know is if Siri’s founding team don’t like the direction Apple is taking Siri. We also don’t know if people like Cheyer think they can do better with a non-Apple alternative.
6. Why didn’t Apple announce the new aspect ratio at the developer’s conference? There were very few things about the iPhone 5 we didn’t already know months before the event. One of them, was a consensus that the new iPhone would be taller, with an extra row of icons, and a very sensible aspect ratio of 16:9 — the same as HD movies.
As a result of this change, hundreds of thousands of apps will appear bogusly centered on the screen until developers get around the upgrading them.
Why didn’t apple just go ahead and announce the new aspect ratio, roll out the required developer materials and let the process of upgrading begin three months ago?
(Image courtesy of Ipevo).