Weekly Roundup: September 14th

Observations September 14, 2014 8:50 am


One More Thing…

  • “We’re not quite finished yet”: Tim Cook invoked Steve Jobs as he announced Apple’s long-awaited smartwatch (and first major product since 2010) on Tuesday. But unlike rumors suggested, it’s not the “iWatch” but the Apple Watch, signaling a new era for the company in more ways than one. The Apple Watch is available in three different editions, with as much focus on design and aesthetic as function. The Apple Watch is a fitness tracker, communication device, and supports payment… as long as you’re connected to an iPhone. (Keep ’em in the ecosystem). A watch guy’s thoughts on the Apple Watch, and more technical details here.
  • Bigger and better phones: Before announcing the Apple Watch, Apple introduced two new smartphones, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Both phones are the largest– and most advanced– Apple has ever introduced. The iPhone 6 has a 4.7″ screen while the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5″ inch, following the likes of Samsung into phablet territory. Selling features include faster Internet, a better camera, and a faster processor. The new phones can also double as fitness trackers as well as wallets with the introduction of HealthKit and Apple Pay. Apple Pay utilizes NFC, and will allow users to simply tap and pay for items in over 22,000 retailers starting in October. In addition to on-boarding retailers, Apple has announced partnerships with MasterCard, Amex, and Visa… meaning this could be the moment that mobile payments actually take off.
  • RIP original iPod: With so much hype around the new iPhones, Apple Pay, and Apple Watch, you may have missed that Apple discontinued the original iPod this week. First introduced in 2001, the iPod introduced an entirely new way to listen to music, giving people the ability to “fit [their] whole music library in [their] pocket.” But Apple isn’t done reinventing how we listen to music; the surprise release of U2’s first album in five years could be the start of Apple as a music “label.”

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Media Landscape

  • Changing viewer habits: Digital viewing among 18-34 year olds grew 53% in the past year, which is paltry compared to the 80% increase among 35-49 year olds and 60% among 50-64 year olds. Time spent with TV is still king, but as all age groups are spending more time with digital screens (especially mobile devices), they’re watching less in front of traditional television screens. Netflix is most definitely part of this story, accounting for 34% of bandwidth usage during primetime.
  • Traditional networks react: Time for a response from traditional networks and providers, who seem to finally be learning that it’s the content, not the channel, that’s important to consumers. FOX, Dish Networks, and Verizon are toying with the idea of personalized Internet-TV services, Viacom signed a deal with Sony for a new Internet-TV service, and HBO is finally seriously considering a standalone, Internet-only HBO Go option. Notice the repeated use of the word Internet and refer back to the previous bullet-point about changing viewer behavior.
  • Net neutrality debate: No more cable subscriptions! But wait… could Verizon potentially curtail my Netflix binges with slower Internet speed? Netflix was one of the many companies to participate in Internet Slow Down Day, which protested the FCC’s proposal to allow providers like Verizon to create Internet “fast” and “slow” lanes. So all those deals above for personalized, Internet-based services aren’t as great as they seem… especially if the FCC’s proposal passes. Traditional networks and providers aren’t reinventing the model with the move to the web, they’re trying to make sure we’re still trapped in the old model (and still paying), no matter how/where we’re viewing content.

Millennials: Financially Savvy and Reading Enthusiasts (Stats)

R/GA Originals: Fashion Week Edition

Long Reads

  • The Death of Adulthood in American Culture: “Childhood, once a condition of limited autonomy and deferred pleasure (“wait until you’re older”), is now a zone of perpetual freedom and delight.”
  • How Matt’s Machine Works: “He believed that if you removed those things, along with efficiency-destroying interruptions like email and phone calls and meetings, work could proceed more quickly and with less pain.”
  • How I Rebuilt Tinder and Discovered the Shameful Secret of Attraction: “Put differently, we swipe because someone’s “hot,” but we find someone “hot” based on unconscious codes of class, race, education level, religion, and corresponding interests embedded within the photos of their profile.”

*Originally published on R/GA FutureVision

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