The 26th annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was very exciting, both from a marketing and consumer perspective. We learned about new Apple services as well as enhancements to iOS. WWDC’s focus is on software and not the hardware end of the business. Over 5,000 developers are in attendance to listen and the event is streamed live on a global level.
In typical Apple fashion, WWDC is an event that news media and consumers all tune into simultaneously, so they all learn the same news at once. The two big themes that came out of this week’s WWDC were Enhancements and Entertainment. Both are important and will lead to more consumer time spent in front of their Apple screens.
The term ‘enhancements’ can be very broad at a development conference, because everything they talk about is an enhancement on the past operating system. The most interesting enhancement from a usability perspective is the multitasking feature for iPads. Through this feature, consumers can now write an email on their tablet while simultaneously watching video content from ESPN on the same screen.
Apple also showed off enhancements to Apple Pay, and noted that since its launch, two out of three U.S. dollars that occur via contactless payment have taken place via Apple Pay. One of its main components is Apple Passbook, which is where your synched credit card lives. Now it’s being rebranded as Apple Wallet. This makes more sense from a consumer perspective as we associate our wallets with payments, vs. a ‘passbook.’ Apple Pay will also be rolling out to the UK in July.
In addition, Apple also highlighted the ability for retailers to include their loyalty cards within Apple Wallet. This was not discussed, but from an iAd perspective (Apple’s mobile display ad product), brands will be able include their own loyalty card or tap to load discounts onto your favorite retailer’s loyalty card within Apple Wallet.
From an enhancement perspective, Newsstand is evolving to a Flipboard-style experience called News. Newsstand is going away but the News app will house content in a more robust, consumer-friendly experience. As reported in Re/code, “publishers will keep 100 per cent of the advertising they sell within the Flipboard-like app while Apple will help sell unsold inventory and take a cut at rates that one publisher described as ‘very favorable.’ Apple will continue to take a 30 per cent cut of revenue from subscriptions sold through the publisher’s own apps”.
Apple also released their watchOS 2. This update will allow developers to create native apps that live on the Apple Watch itself, not just Bluetooth connectivity between the phone and the watch as it currently operates. This will allow app developers to be more creative and wrist-first in their development of new utilities for consumers. Additionally, this change will help spur a larger app ecosystem for the watch, as you currently need to have a smartphone app to accompany the watch app.
From an entertainment point of view, the biggest news of the day was around the launch of Apple Music. Apple is now getting in on the popularity of streaming music on-demand services such as Spotify and Rdio, to provide consumers with all the music they want for USD 10 a month.
Consumers continue to own the music as long as they pay their monthly subscription fee. Apple is leveraging the customised success of Beats (they purchased Beats Electronics for three billion dollars last year) and rebranding it as Apple Music. The rollout of this service will help drive success through scale, because it will appear on all iOS devices – and will be available for Android as well. Apple Music will be available on a global level and available as a native app across their 800 million iPhone base.
As it relates to consumers’ affinity towards entertainment, social and utility, Apple announced a big milestone for the App Store: they have now tracked over 100 billion app downloads since the store launched in 2007. The App Store has created a new economy, with payouts to developers in excess of USD 30 billion since launch. As consumers’ time continues to be focused within apps, the opportunity to reach them in this space from a messaging standpoint will continue to be critical for brands.
Many people were expecting Apple to talk about how they are going to move into the television space with streaming services, but there was nothing to report on that front. Based on the Apple special event in March – where they had announced an Apple TV price reduction from USD 99 to USD 69, new apps and voice control for Siri – many people were expecting more.
Outside of TV, there is also speculation that Apple is working on a car, as they have indicated that the ultimate mobile device is your automobile. Apple did talk about HomeKit – but only for about thirty seconds in a two and a half hour presentation. So they are making their way into the Internet of Things marketplace, but will do so on their own terms.
Overall, Apple’s enhancements to their current operating system, as well as the continued success of the application marketplace, will continue to keep consumers glued to their devices.