Now that this year’s Apple Event has come and gone, we know a bit more about the Apple X. Pre-order is October 27th and it’s available November 3rd. Much of the early discussion, especially on social media, has been about the price — the phone will probably run from $999 to $1,300+, which is the steepest iPhone ever. (Although, as Bloomberg notes, the price of all Apple products is going up.) We also know it has a bigger screen — it’s essentially all screen — and the battery might last two hours longer than the iPhone 7. The A11 bionic neural engine, essentially an AI chip Apple packed into the iPhone X, can perform 600 billion operations per second.
Those are some of the basics of what we know so far, with more information available all over the web (some not as accurate as others). So once November arrives and a crop of people have screen-for-days iPhone Xs, what does that mean for mobile marketers?
Let’s start with AI
Adding the AI chip to the iPhone X was a big move for Apple, because you could argue that’s the first move to truly take AI to scale. Producing augmented reality content will likely be cheaper and easier than ever, which means you’ll see a lot of brands flood that market. It might be smart to see what types of engagement is doing the best among first movers before launching your own AR strategy. Some of the more obvious implications are home lifestyle brands that could use AR to show their products in your current living room; fashion brands can try the same with clothes. Both of these applications with AR have been used previously, as have others — but if the iPhone X does successfully make more users interested in AR applications, it’ll be interesting to see what brands try to do with it. It’s one of the most powerful technologies ever created in terms of bridging the digital/brick and mortar gap, because so many products can be seen/tried on/experimented with via AR. The “Animojis” Apple is rolling out — it’s exactly what you think it might be — are another sign brands need to be embracing AR within mobile.
QR Codes became a little bit of a punchline among mobile marketers in the last 24 months, oftentimes because the process wasn’t intuitive for the end user. They usually had to scan within a specific app. No more. In iOS 11, the corresponding operating system for Apple X, QR Code scanning is integrated right into the camera. Shopify recently released Shopcodes, for example; those are QR Codes that take users to a specific product. While not revolutionary, the user experience will be better if the code can be scanned right from the camera.
Implications of the new screen
Video and mobile gaming are two larger areas of mobile growth, and the new screen should allow those areas to flourish for advertisers and content houses. Brands can certainly engage more with users in “Snapchatty” (we made that word up) ways, and while one of the concerns of Snapchat has always been an age cutoff on who “gets” it, the iPhone X could bring knowledge of how to send fun videos, short AR clips, and beautiful photos easily to friends. In terms of the visual quality and tech overall, look at these benchmarks:
The iPhone X destroys the Samsung Galaxy S8 and has better benchmarks than a MacBook Pro. It might not justify the price tag, but brands are going to be able to send along some beautiful content to their targets.
It might set back Apple Pay…
In the demo live on stage when they announced the iPhone X, the facial recognition feature didn’t work so well. (Oops.) Well, since this phone is all screen, there’s no home button — which means there’s no fingerprint recognition, which had been good for Apple Pay. Now you double-tap the side button and wait for the phone to recognize your face, but if that reduces the experience ease of using Apple Pay, many might stick with their credit cards for even longer.
… but maybe Apple Watch will step in there
Apple Watch 3 and OS4 support Apple Pay now, as well as via iPhone 5 and above. The Apple Watch also now works without the phone via LTE, although that will cost $10/month on all carriers. (You get three months free.) If retail brands got connected with Apple Pay and people could easily pay at checkout via their watch, that might be a nice user experience uptick which could steal some customers from competitors. Looking at your watch and tapping to pay is relatively easy UX, especially if you don’t even need your phone connected to do it.
Based on what you’ve read about the iPhone X so far, what do you think could change in mobile marketing? And perhaps more importantly, do you think enough people will upgrade to the X to make an immediate difference?
It certainly seems like AR, Apple Pay, and video/photo/gaming could be greatly affected post-November, with probably AR being the biggest story of the next year or so as more people navigate to a X. We’d love to hear any thoughts, though.