What the Apple launch event means for advertising

Tim Cook presenting at the September 2018 Apple launch event

September marks a special time in the Apple calendar, and this year was no different. With tech elite flying from around the world to gather at the still-fresh, still-mesmerising Apple Park campus in California, chief executive Tim Cook took the stage to announce their new hardware line up. And boy did Apple Watch outshine the iPhone.

Don’t get me wrong, the three new iPhones announced at the Steve Jobs Theater were the stunning masterpieces of metal and glass we’ve come to expect from Jony Ive and his team, it’s just that the watch has something special going on in 2018. It houses the world’s first ever over-the-counter electrocardiogram (ECG) machine. Complete with American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, and headlined on the Cupertino stage by none other than the president of the American Heart Association, the Apple Watch Series 4 marks the beginning of a new era in personal care through smart devices, and cements Apple as the world leaders of that paradigm.

For adland at least, hardware announcements like these are rarely cause for as much excitement as their software counterparts, because the latter speak to new functionalities rolling out on the devices consumers use day in and day out. But they’re still important, because they can tell us something about where consumer tech is going, which in turn affects the way we think about designing communications for the future. Here’s a recap of the three cultural trends you need to know from Apple’s September 2018 event:

A new chapter in personal wellbeing through consumer electronics is born. In a world of fitness trackers, smart scales and nutrition apps, we’ve been well on our way to managing our fitness through smart devices for some time. But FDA approval for a device that can give you an ECG reading in 30 seconds, detect bradycardia (low heart rate) and atrial fibrillation marks a step change in how consumers will approach healthcare. More empowered with data than ever before, this will open up a new consumer behaviour of ultra-conscious connected health action.

An era of connected elderly. Are the elderly the only people in our population susceptible to nasty falls? No. Is this the first device an over 75 year old will ever own? Probably not. But an Apple Watch that detects falls, inactivity thereafter, can call the emergency services, and alerts loved ones could well see an adoption drive in those previously not consumers of such digital technologies. This represents a new group of people for us to design experiences for, and serve through the proxy of our brands (which doesn’t necessarily mean “market to”, I might add).

A new video and photography paradigm is born. Between the enormous increase in dynamic range of iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max’s OLED displays, the new bokeh adjustment functionality, and the all new stereo recording and playback audio, more people will be able to create pro grade content without the kit. This will cause another shift in content quality across consumer content platforms like YouTube and Instagram, pushing the boundaries of what’s normal.

Remember one of those three for your next client meeting, and you’ll be on the pulse.

Gracie Page, innovation lead, Y&R London

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