CUPERTINO: Apple caught up with hardware rivals on Tuesday (Sep 10) by revealing a triple-camera iPhone, while cutting prices for its most basic models and laying out plans for streaming and gaming services.
Price appeared to be a key consideration as the tech giant reduced the entry-level price for the iPhone 11 to US$699 and undercut rivals for its gaming and streaming television subscriptions.
Apple unveiled three versions of the iPhone 11 including "Pro" models with triple cameras and other advanced features starting at US$999 and US$1,099, unchanged from last year's prices, touting upgraded features including ultrawide camera lenses.
The surprise from Apple was the reduction in the starting price at US$699, down from US$749 for the iPhone XR a year ago even as many premium devices are being priced around US$1,000.
The new iPhones are "jam-packed with new capabilities and an incredible new design", Apple chief executive Tim Cook told a launch event in Cupertino, California as the company set plans to sell the new handsets on Sep 20.
Customers in Singapore can pre-order the phone from Friday night, with prices starting from S$1,149.
CONTENT AS SWEETENER
Apple's announcements appeared to be aimed at emphasising value as the company looks to shift its business model to reduce its dependence on smartphones and tie in digital content and other services to its devices.
"We got a stream of nonstop product launches, with content being used as a sweetener," said Avi Greengart, analyst and consultant with Techsponential.
"I think the iPhone 11 is compelling and may convince people to upgrade earlier than they might have otherwise given the lower price and longer battery life, not just an improved camera."
With the new devices and services, "I think there are more reasons to stay with Apple than to defect from Apple," added Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
STREAMING AND GAMING
Apple TV+ service will launch on Nov 1 in more than 100 countries at US$4.99 per month and will include a "powerful and inspiring lineup of original shows, movies and documentaries."
While Apple's streaming service will have limited content at first, its price is below the US$6.99 for the forthcoming Disney+ service and the more expensive plans from Netflix.
"Clearly Cupertino is looking for market share coming out of the gates with these surprising price points that we loudly applaud," said Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities.
Apple is featuring scripted dramas, comedies and movies as well as children's programmes in the service, which will compete against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon.
"With Apple TV+, we are presenting all-original stories from the best, brightest and most creative minds, and we know viewers will find their new favourite show or movie on our service," said Zack Van Amburg, Apple's head of video.
Apple said customers who purchase an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch or Mac will get the first year of the service for free.
The company's online gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade, will launch next week, offering exclusive titles for mobile and desktop users.
The new service, which will also cost US$4.99 per month, will include more than 100 game titles made for Apple devices and will be available in some 150 countries.
"You can't find these games on any other mobile platform for subscription service, no games service ever launched as many games, and we can't wait for you to play all of that," product manager Ann Thai told the Apple media event.
Apple also unveiled updates to its iPad tablet and Apple Watch smartwatch, also emphasising stable or lower prices with cuts to older versions.
"We think the lower iPhone 11 price point and trade-in programme will help promote upgrades, specifically in China, while the Apple Arcade and TV+ offerings will help accelerate services growth," CFRA Research analyst Angelo Zino said in a note about Apple.
The new seventh-generation iPad features a stunning 10.2-inch Retina display and the latest innovations including Apple Pencil 2 support.
Apple Watch Series 5 is available in a wider range of materials, including aluminium, stainless steel, ceramic and an all-new titanium. Combined with the power of watchOS 6, users are empowered to take charge of their health and fitness with new features like Cycle Tracking, the Noise app and Activity Trends.
New location features, from a built-in compass to current elevation, help users better navigate their day, while international emergency calling allows customers to call emergency services directly from Apple Watch in more than 150 countries, even without an iPhone nearby.
Apple shares ended the formal trading day up slightly to US$216.70, while streaming television rivals Netflix and Disney both finished down about 2 per cent.