Apple v. The World

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

This week kicked off with Apple’s WWDC Conference. Although it’s eternally missing the magic of Steve Jobs, I think these presentations continue to get better and smoother in a nearly-post-Covid era. I found the effects, transitions, and diversity of speakers to once again provide a blueprint for how a company should communicate its product launches.

Say what you will about Tim Cook, in my opinion his tenure has taken the company to new heights. Apple continues to innovate and lead. It’s my favorite and most consumed brand.

There are so many key new features and cool additions to the Apple portfolio. This presentation highlighted:

A new Shareplay feature that will include both video and music sharing into Facetime. An updated iOS 15 with a built-in notifications system for iMessage and FaceTime A whole new Spatial Audio System for Apple Music & Apple TV. Live text that will read text from photos and let users copy and paste it freely. A new identification system built into Apple Wallet that will replace physical ID’s at U.S. airports. An enhanced security system built into Safari & Mail with daily updates from their App Privacy Report. On-device speech recognition for Siri which will now work without an internet connection. The ability to share new health data with family members via the health app. New changes to Airpods that will augment hearing and improved Find My Network WatchOS 8 with new health features including the Mindfulness app. Access to Siri for Third Party developers. Launch of Apple’s new OS for its Macbook & iMac computers called Mac OS Monterey. The new OS will allow users to use the same cursor across iMacs, Macbooks and now even iPads. A whole new redesigned Safari with new Web Extensions coming soon.

In more tenuous news, Apple is involved in one of the most important court cases of modern times. Apple vs Epic Games (the maker of Fortnite) is going to have a substantial impact on App culture for years to come. Apple’s App ecosystem is a massive driver of business and relevance for Apple.

Epic’s argument is that Apple’s policies are monopolistic and anti-competitive in nature. “The fight isn’t over Epic wanting a special deal, it’s about the basic freedoms of all consumers and developers,” Epic Games CEO Tom Sweeney said in an interview. I have to hand it to Epic, their 1984 commercial attacking Apple was pretty legendary and certainly won points in the court of public opinion.

I understand that Apple built the App Store and has the right to charge whatever fee it wants, but this fee does feel arbitrary and its non-negotiability stifles innovation in the world of Apps. The arguments have been made and the ruling will come later this year, which will unquestionably have a huge impact on culture and games.

Facebook, too, is squaring up against Apple in a battle royale, this one around privacy and data. Ahead of WWDC 2021, Facebook informed users of a new tool that would show them how much money Apple and Google take from them. The new interface will inform creators of the taxes and hidden fees they are being charged for. The company also announced that it will keep paid online events, fan subscriptions, and online badges free for creators until 2023. This sounds good in the short-term, but after 2023 it’s tough to trust that Facebook won’t change the rules in their favor again. I’m still let down by the way they treated Fan & Band pages and changed the algorithm so the only way to reach their audiences — audiences that people spent real time and money building — is with a pay-to-play model.

With the launch of iOS 15 in the fall, Apple is also slowly laying the groundwork for features that people would normally use on IG and Facebook, but with more emphasis on privacy.

Apple and Facebook are on a crash course. Facebook is heavily into the data collection and sharing business, while Apple is hoping to ramp up privacy, harshly limiting Facebook’s revenue. The future is being written and things are going to get prickly! Let’s just say…heavy is the head that wears the crown.
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Also published on Medium.