Advancing What Only Apple Can Do
Source: Apple screenshot

Advancing What Only Apple Can Do

Apple’s WWDC20 event featured the typical annual software updates, disappointingly in-line with expectations. A closer look, however, makes it clear that the company is advancing capabilities within its ecosystem that only Apple can do.

Apple is expanding the depth and breadth of its moat. Here are a few examples from the announcements at WWDC20:

1. Apple Silicon

As expected, Apple formally announced the transition from Intel chips to its own Apple silicon for Macs. Apple’s track record with the A-series of chips for iPhone and iPad should instill confidence. Beyond performance per watt benefits, Apple has proven its ability to deliver differentiated hardware capabilities like the Secure Enclave for privacy-centric features, on-device machine learning, and improved power management.

We expect custom Apple silicon on the Mac to unlock a host of new capabilities that will separate the Mac from Windows-based computers with features that PC makers can’t match. iPhones, iPads, and even Macs have increasingly featured custom Apple silicon, like the Apple T2 Security Chip with the Secure Enclave coprocessor for better, faster, more secure authentication (Touch ID, Face ID, Apple Pay, and many other services that work across Apple devices without storing personally identifying data in the cloud).

2. New Features for AirPods Pro

In what feels like a first for the headphones industry, Apple announced a free software upgrade for AirPods Pro that will bring two new value to customers:

AirPods Pro will now feature spatial audio, like surround sound for headphones. In order to deliver on spatial audio, Apple uses 3-dimensional data from the source device (iPhone, iPad, or Mac) and from the AirPods Pro (using gyroscopes in the AirPods).

Automatic switching between Apple devices is now coming to AirPods. Previously, AirPods were simple to pair with your Apple device and would appear on any device logged into the same Apple ID. But switching from, say, your iPhone to your Mac as the audio source was manual. Now, switching from device to device will be automatic, based on whichever device you’re using.

Spatial audio and automatic switching are two great examples of features only Apple can deliver, and another reason that we think the AirPods story is just starting.

3. Sleep and Fitness Apps

Apple announced new Apple Watch capabilities for sleep tracking and fitness. Both leverage apps on multiple devices (Apple Watch and iPhone) to capture data related to user behavior and display insights from the data for the benefit of the user. A smartwatch company can’t access the same level of detail about a user’s activity and motion from a watch alone, because Apple can use data from the phone, too.

Digital health remains a largely untapped opportunity for Apple, and the device ecosystem is one reason we remain bullish that Apple can offer health-related products and services that competitors cannot.

4. Privacy

Across every software platform (iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, even tvOS), Apple emphasized privacy and security. Some features, like the examples in the T2 Security Chip described above, are features that only Apple can offer across its wide range of devices. Others, like advanced messaging features coming to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, leverage Apple’s tightly integrated hardware, software, and services offerings. The secure tracking of device location for applications like Find My is made possible by Apple’s business model. Instead of selling ads like Google and Facebook, Apple can offer features like a new level of clarity on the information that apps access, and a sort of scorecard to keep app developers honest.

Apple is unifying your digital life.

Imagine if your doorknobs, your oven door, and your car door each operated with consistent design, user experience, and simplicity. That level of consistency is increasingly a reality as our digital life becomes a larger portion of our entire life, and Apple owns the experience.

WWDC20 saw Apple leverage those unique assets it has across a multitude of touchpoints in our lives. As the company’s influence expands, so too does its moat, compounding the opportunity for future hardware, software, and services offerings.