Apple Watch Weak, But New MacBook a Winner

The Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) “Spring Forward” event was poorly received by most viewers, and the stock sold off. “The Apple Watch” functionality had already been known to the market and the disappointing eighteen-hour battery life was contradicted by the product page that says the charge only lasts three hours as a phone and seven hours as a workout device. The only clever Apple advancement was the new MacBook that comes with a redesigned trackpad that offers a “Taptic Engine,” which produces tactile feedback that lets you “feel” what’s happening on the screen, rather than just seeing it.

The Apple show featured CEO Tim Cook, who the seekingalpha.com blog disparagingly described as  looking like “Dieter” from Saturday Night Live in a zip-up, warm-up jacket and blue denim work-shirt. Cook started the festivities by hyping ‘Apple TV, which he called the “market leader.” Cook expressed such confidence in the service he cut the price to $69, below the cost of Google and Amazon services. HBO is now available, but at a premium price of $15 per month.

But then Apple introduced a new 12-inch display MacBook, available in gold. The highly functioning laptop weighs only 2 pounds. At 13.1mm, it is 20 percent skinnier than the 11-inch MacBook Air. And it is believed to run in fanless silence on Intel’s 14nm Core M chip. The new model also features a Surface Pro 3-sized 2340×1440 Retina display, which Apple claims has over three million pixels.

The new MacBook is impressively redesigned with a backlit keyboard butterfly mechanism to make typing much more accurate. It also incorporates the “Force Touch” trackpad with glass multi-touch surface, four force hinges and haptic feedback that is stirring a major buzz.

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said the Force Touch is variable resistance pressure enabled, and no longer hinged. That means you can either tap the touchpad or give it a harder press in order to bring up the functions that were usually associated with the right-click of a mouse.

Touch produces tactile feedbacks to “feel” what’s happening on the screen. That means a user can either tap the touchpad or give it a harder press in order to bring up the functions that were usually associated with the right-click. It is not clear whether “Force Touch” actually brings up the control-click menu, but the innovation will play to the MacBook cachet.

About an hour into “Spring Forward” and the new MacBook having warmed up the crowd, the Apple Watch was unveiled to less than a rousing ovation. Apple claims “It’s the most advanced timepiece ever created…and a comprehensive health and fitness companion.” The device has a ton of apps, and a choice of wristbands. It is even being pitched to the $10,000-and-up luxury fashionista crowd. But acknowledging that the Watch battery charge lasts less than a day is like time-travel back to 2005 flip phones.

Apple’s ResearchKit, which will work with major universities to track diseases, is very cool from a societal standpoint, and the crowd roared its approval. ResearchKit will help medical professionals rapidly generate bigger data sets to accelerate developments in medical treatments.

But the ResearchKit app is open source, which means there will be no revenue. More importantly, with millennials as the key target demographic for Apple sales generally believing they are invincible to diseases, it is difficult to see how that feature will drive demand.

The “Spring Forward” lacked the old Steve Jobs mojo of real disruptive innovation to inspire the audience. At $184 billion per year in annual sales, Apple Inc. is wildly successful by any measure. But in the fickle world of consumer electronics, Apple does not need to spring forward with better products. Rather, it must leap forward and bet the company on incredible new innovations. Clearly, Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs.


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