Thoughts on the Yesterday's Apple Event

The New MacBook

I don't have a whole lot to say about the new MacBook. For users who prioritize size and weight, it looks like a great choice. I'd even go so far as to recommend it to most people I know. It sounds like a great general purpose computer. But it's not for me. I need the greater processing power, RAM, and screen real estate in the MacBook Pro. (I do think the updated 13" Retina MacBook Pro sounds appealing. I have a first-gen 13" rMBP and like it quite a lot.)

Apple Watch

When the Apple Watch was first announced last fall, I wasn't quite sure what I thought about it. As time as passed, I've gotten more excited to try one, and I'd say I'm cautiously optimistic about its potential.

I'm not sold on the idea of the Watch as a messaging device, at least not for text or voice. Who wants to be dictating messages aloud to their watch? Part of what makes texting so appealing is that you can do it in public without other people overhearing your conversation. (For example, I don't recommend using Apple Watch to gossip about the crazy mustache on the guy in front of you in the airport security line.)

One feature that did catch my eye was the ability to activate Siri without pressing a button. It's something I can imagine using all the time. For example, I often use Siri to set timers while I'm cooking, but sometimes my hands are dirty and I don't want to mess up my phone. With the Watch, I should be able to simply say, "Hey Siri, set a timer for 10 minutes." No fuss, no muss. (Literally.)

A friend asked me yesterday why he'd need an Apple Watch. The simple answer is, he doesn't. Nobody does. I don't think we'll get a good handle on how useful (or not) the Watch will be until we've had a chance to try them out for a bit. At minimum, it fulfills the roles of a traditional watch and step tracker in one package. (I've already replaced my Jawbone Up24 once under warranty, and the replacement is starting to break down as well.) Some of the features will be duds, and others will be unexpected hits. Much like the iPhone, a lot will also hinge on what developers do with it.

Fortunately for me, it's pretty easy to justify taking a chance on the Apple Watch. As a developer, I need to get a feel for what it's like to use the Watch so I can make good recommendations to clients. (I already have people asking about developing Watch apps – a good sign for the platform, I think!) Although I'm tempted by the stainless steel model, my plan is to go for an entry level Apple Watch Sport this time around. If I find that I use the Watch a lot in my daily life, I might spring for stainless next time around. (I'm assuming the Watch will be updated on an annual schedule like the iPhone and iPad. I also imagine they'll make some significant hardware strides in the first few years.) I have fairly small wrists, so I'm almost certain the 38mm model will be the way to go.

HBO Now

I've often criticized HBO for failing to sell it's service directly to consumers instead of through cable companies. They remedied that failure with HBO Now, and I commend them for it. Now people who want HBO's content can get it regardless of whether they're interested in everything else that comes along with cable TV. (And, importantly, it's now possible to get HBO content without having to talk to your cable company. I'm looking at you, Comcast.)

However, I don't think it brings us all that much closer to a world where we all save money through "cord cutting." The reason is simple: bundling. Cable companies could always adjust their pricing so that it's impossible to save a significant amount of money by dropping TV service. It's not hard to imagine a pricing model where cable TV and internet together cost, say, $120/month, but internet alone costs $100. This probably sounds familiar to anyone who's ever been pitched adding "digital phone service" that they're never use as a way to save money with a three-service bundle. Sure, we may soon be able to cut the TV cord, but I doubt we'll save much money doing it. (Like many Americans, I have almost zero choice when it comes to TV and Internet service at home.)