Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Assorted Additional Thoughts on Monday’s “Spring Forward” Event

As with practically every Apple event, Monday’s produced a lot to think about. Despite my longer, more focused missive, I have not exhausted my opinion bank. Aren’t you lucky, reader?

Apple TV

The price drop on the Apple TV combined with language that Tyler Poage noticed makes me think that a more significant Apple TV update is imminent.

MacBook

The new MacBook does everything — including charging — with the sole USB-C connector aboard, but I know a lot of people who will want to charge their iPhone from their MacBook. There is no Lightning-to-USB-C cable, for perplexing reasons. I’m surprised that Apple’s solution to this is for the user to also purchase and lug around a $19 adapter, especially when the power brick could have an additional USB-A port on it for power only. I get that it’s not particularly ideal; it would be more convenient and safer if your phone were connected to your laptop instead of both to the wall. But it’s a feature that would be desperately appreciated in a pinch.

Watch

Tim Cook’s awkward interview with Christy Turlington Burns brought global attention to a great charity, albeit looking a little tone-deaf when placed in the same segment of the presentation as the unveiling of a solid gold watch. But this was significant for another reason: it might be the first time a woman has been onstage at an Apple event since Microsoft’s Roz Ho back in 2007, as far I can recall. It’s both a positive development, and a comment on the anemic state of Apple’s recognition of the role of women in their company.

According to Jony Ive’s profile in the New Yorker, the Watch will require significant changes to Apple’s retail stores:

The table previously covered with a flat cloth was now uncovered: it was a glass-topped Apple Watch display cabinet, accessible to staff from below, via a descending, motorized flap, like the ramp at the rear of a cargo plane. Ive has begun to work with Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice-president of retail, on a redesign—as yet unannounced—of the Apple Stores. These new spaces will surely become a more natural setting for vitrines filled with gold (and perhaps less welcoming, at least in some corners, to tourists and truants). Apple had not, overnight, become an élite-oriented company—and it would sell seventy-five million iPhones in the final quarter of 2014, many of them in China—but I wondered how rational, and pure of purpose, one can make the design of a V.I.P. area. Ive later told me that he had overheard someone saying, “I’m not going to buy a watch if I can’t stand on carpet.”

According to Asymco’s Horace Dediu, the display cabinets that Apple has been using for Watch promo events will be very similar to the cabinets installed in retail stores. This retail update was not acknowledged and only barely previewed at the “Spring Forward” event, which makes me question just how much of a makeover the stores will be getting. Is it just an additional table and a safe for the Edition models? What about that “carpet” comment in the quote above? Why not invite Angela Ahrendts onstage to preview those changes?

Also, Apple will apparently be selling it through third-party retailers, but it so far seems as though the third-party retailers will be limited to department stores and boutiques, at least at first. It’s likely that a display setup similar to that of the ones at Apple retail stores will be used. I wonder when and how such a setup will come to existing Apple retail partners, like Best Buy. Will they even be allowed to sell the Edition model? I wager not; nobody goes into a Best Buy looking to drop ten grand on a watch.

Also, the Watch marks the return of the black tax. The stainless steel model starts at $549, but you have to go all the way up to a $1,049 link bracelet model to get a “Space Black” stainless steel model. It’s even $100 more expensive than a standard link bracelet stainless steel model. But — damn — does it ever look good.