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Has Apple lost its core? What 2016 could hold for the tech giant

Has Apple lost its core? What 2016 could hold for the tech giant

Yesterday our Head of Technology, Nick Braund, did the media circuit, appearing on both Sky News and Channel 5’s Live News show, to discuss the fallout from Apple’s latest results for the final quarter of 2015.

Whilst these were record-breaking – in iPhone sales, revenue and profit ($18.4bn, breaking their own record for profits in a single quarter) – the industry was very underwhelmed. Their growth was down on predictions and Tim Cook also admitted that he expects a revenue drop of 13% for the period ending 31st March 2016 – the first drop in 13 years.

Two-thirds of Apple’s revenue comes from sales of the iPhone and if sales continue to drop then this could spell serious issues for the tech giant. However, with the eagerly anticipated launch of the iPhone 7 in the final quarter of 2016, an expected iPhone for the developing world (Apple 5SE) and rumours surrounding Apple’s activity in the wireless connectivity, VR and potentially automotive industry, there are plenty of opportunities yet for Apple to become the latest Virgin and cleverly pivot the business to focus heavily on another sector.

In this clip, Nick discusses what Apple could do next to reverse their fortunes in 2016:

Time for a change? Launch of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

On Tuesday evening, Apple unveiled its new selection of products; two new iPhones and a new addition, the Apple Watch. The most notable new feature of both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is the increased screen size. It will come in two screen sizes, 4.7 inches for the iPhone 6 and 5.5 inches for the iPhone 6 Plus. The camera on both phones has also been improved with a new focusing and exposure system which should improve image quality.

The Apple Watch will enable users to send and receive messages, answer calls and share personalised health information. The watch will come in three versions, the standard, the sport and the luxury.

The reaction to the new iPhone design was predominantly positive with Nate Lanxon the editor of Wired commenting, “The first thing I noticed was that it feels a lot thinner than the 5s and 5c, and its rounded edges suggest you’re holding a very small iPad mini rather than a larger iPhone,”. Many commenters on Twitter noticed that the new iPhone design was a return to the first few generations of the iPhone which featured curved edges. The iPhone 6 is an extremely attractive phone with the curved edges and slimmer profile; it is definitely an improved version compared to the iPhone 5s.

Apple launched the iPhone 6,iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch

The new screen sizes have led to comparisons to other Android phones that have had much larger screens than the iPhone for a while, with some experts calling Apple merely a follower. However, the Guardian’s Charles Arthur said, “Apple could be accused of being a follower: out of ideas, late to the market. But time and again it has shown that its attention to usability can win over customers”. TechCrunch also thought the new screen sizes could help to lure back former Apple customers who switched to Android. Sales in Phablets have increased in the last year so it makes sense for Apple to go down this route. However is bigger always better? The practicalities on a daily basis may make the iPhone 6 Plus less successful than its smaller counterpart.

One of the major improvements to the iPhone 6 is the improved battery life, which has been one of the greatest areas of frustration for the Apple faithful. The iPhone 6 will have 16 hours battery life compared to only 10 hours battery life with the iPhone 5s. Analysts believe this will be one of the big selling points of the iPhone 6. The dependence on your charger is the main quibble most people have with their iPhone and this is definitely a feature which will draw people to the new phones. Despite this improvement, Samsung are still seen to be leading the way with their removable battery, allowing users to carry a spare at all times, and therefore never being out of touch.

The size of the Apple Watch has come under fire, gadget expert Samuel Gobbs said, “The design looks bulky and the cost significantly more than others.” But The Guardian’s Charles Arthur felt he easily forgot he was wearing it and that it was not significantly larger than a normal watch. The design of the Apple Watch by my eyes does look a little large and it would need to more slim line for me to consider buying it. Another issue is the price; at $349 a pop, they aren’t cheap (UK price is still to be confirmed). This device is very futuristic and I can imagine gadget lovers really going for this product. However, the average consumer may see it as a little unnecessary and apart from the new Health app, there aren’t any unique features compared to the iPhone.

In spite of this, the Apple Watch is the first new product that Apple have released since the iPad and I’m sure that thousands of fans will be camped out on Regent Street and outside other stores across the country to be one of the very first to take a bite out of the shiny new Apple.

Heartbleed bug causing reputational damage to infected businesses

The Heartbleed bug is one of the biggest online security threats to date. The name alone sounds serious, like a tropical disease crossed with a Taylor Swift song. But apart from scaring us all into changing our passwords from ‘password1’ to something a little bit more secure, what is the Heartbleed bug and why should businesses be concerned?

The bug exists in a piece of open source software called OpenSSL which is designed to encrypt communications between a user’s computer and a web server. It is one of the most widely used encryption tools on the internet, believed to be deployed by roughly two-thirds of all websites. If you see a little padlock symbol in your browser then it is likely that you are using SSL.

It allows anyone to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. In layman’s terms, this means that usernames and passwords, as well as other confidential data, could be read by cybercriminals.

The Heartbleed bug has caused a crisis of confidence amongst consumers.

The Heartbleed bug has caused a crisis of confidence amongst consumers.

Half a million sites are thought to have been affected including online banking, shopping websites and email accounts. Since the vulnerability has been in OpenSSL for about two years and using it leaves no trace, it is safe to assume that your accounts may be compromised.

Companies are rapidly patching up their systems to secure against it and because so many businesses have been affected by this including Google, Tumblr and Instagram, being infected by the Heartbleed bug does not mean the end of your business.

However, companies that have not been compromised are coming out on top. Apple has been praised for their robust iOS operating systems and has confirmed that all of its devices and web services are safe from the bug. In fact, its devices never used the problematic software in the first place. This foresight will no doubt win Apple more brand advocates.

So whether you are a business or an individual, you should change your online passwords, especially for services where privacy and security are major concerns. Changing passwords is worth doing, and to be honest, it is something you should probably do every six months or so anyway. It is a pain, I know, but it is better to be on the safe side than catch the Heartbleed bug.

What this story does go to show is how important trust is for consumers, particularly when dealing with firms with a strong online presence. They are aware their data is being used and when they feel it may be compromised – particularly with something as sensitive as bank details – they’re likely to get very nervous very quickly, and rightly so.

What this recent news has shown from a PR point of view is that sometimes the most powerful way to influence customers and win business from rivals is to perform particularly well during a crisis, rather than simply pushing positive PR messages.

The 2014 Technology Race

Seven years have passed since the moment Apple changed our relationship with mobile technologies. Since 2007 we have become accustomed to the smartphone, having information fed to us instantaneously through an ever evolving and developing stream of apps. So much so that we feel lost and distanced from the world when there is no 3G connection or Wi-Fi available.

Google glass technology future

Image courtesy of Karlis Damnbrans,


Along with the introduction of the smartphone, tablets have also become a ‘must have’ item, with it being announced that Apple have sold 170 million iPads at the end of 2013, helping the technology giant break a quarterly revenue record after releasing the iPhone 5s and the iPad Air.

But what’s next? It goes without saying that Apple will continue to churn out new models of the iPhone and iPad on a yearly basis, along with their living room appliance, Apple TV.  However, it has been predicted that 2014 will dawn a new age for our relationship with information technology. Wearable video devices have been in development for a number of years now, and it comes as no surprise to hear that they will be readily available for consumers in the coming month. They have already begun to infiltrate our homes in a sense, with 3D glasses, however, they are not yet interactive and only serve a sole purpose. Google have already set the bar in the wearable technology market with Google Glass, however, the market has still not opened up and it is still in its very early stages with only a few lucky ‘explorers; being selected to test the product.

Samsung have already entered the Smartwatch race, with the Samsung Galaxy Gear hitting the market in recent weeks. It is only a matter of time until Apple enters the race with it being predicted that a Smartwatch is their next biggest announcement.

Experts are predicting that 10 million ‘wearable technology’ devices will be sold in 2014, with sales predicted to rise 10 times by the end of 2016. The mystery surrounding what’s to come only fuels the excitement, with technology enthusiasts imagination going wild at the thought of the endless possibilities that these new devices will be able to provide.

The 2014 technology race is well and truly on.


Time for the Apple iWatch?

Are Apple about to jump head-first into the accessory market? That’s what all the signs point to this week after the Californian-giant trademarked the “iWatch” term in an application to the Japan Patent Office.

The patent isn’t the only clue in this mystery, however. Apple have not released a new product since the iPad, and ever since the passing of the legendary Steve Jobs rumours have abound that the technology firm are on the verge of announcing a new gadget.

In February, Apple submitted a patent application for a ‘wearable accessory device’. Coupled with the hiring of Saint Laurent chief executive Paul Deneve, the obvious conclusion is that Apple are interested in releasing some kind of watch.

But what would an iWatch do?

Just as Google have announced their ‘Google Glass’ spectacles, Apple sees the need to explore the market and create a quirkier alternative. The patent submitted in February describes the device as ‘wearable accessory’ consisting of a flexible display and a touch-sensitive interface.

Various possible features include remote notifications, voice sensitive command (Siri) and access to Bluetooth and wireless technology. Alternatively, it could act as a means of controlling a future Apple television, a market that the firm have long been interested in crashing.

However, as with all devices as seemingly ludicrous as an iWatch, many people are sceptical about such a device. Giant firms patent just about any device that they can think of.  The size restrictions alone dismiss any possibility that the iWatch will pioneer new technology or features that are not available on an iPhone or iPad, whilst critics are split in terms of whether an iWatch will act as a secondary device to the iPad or iPhone.

Regardless, we may soon be embarking into a future where the ‘chic’ kids roll around with Google specs and Apple clinging onto their wrists. Heaven forbid…