Less than 24 hours before Election Day, Apple announced it would host its fourth major event of the year the following week.
The November 10 event, like all the others this year, will take place via livestream on the company’s website. And like the others, Apple (AAPL) didn’t reveal too much about what it’s planning to announce, touting it only as “One more thing.” But users can likely expect the first Mac devices with Apple’s in-house chips, which the company said would be available before the end of this year.
The company has already rolled out several “things” at periodic intervals this year. Last month, it launched the long-awaited iPhone 12 lineup with four different models. A month before that, it unveiled two new Apple Watch models, two new iPads, a new fitness class subscription service and a subscription bundle. In June, it detailed several software updates at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). And in March and April — just as the coronavirus was starting to force the United States into lockdown — came relatively quieter rollouts of a new MacBook Air, iPad Pro and a low-cost iPhone SE.
Inevitably, a legion of Apple fans will tune in to Tuesday’s event, but the fact that they’re doing it for a third time in as many months raises the question: Is there such a thing as too much Apple?
While the prospect of yet another Apple event may lead to exasperated groans in some corners, the world’s most valuable company will probably do itself no harm.
It’s been a long and difficult year, and Apple’s decision to host yet another virtual livestream has been met with bemusement and raised eyebrows by at least some Twitter users.
Remember, it’s not just Apple beating people over the head with new products. The tech world has been saturated with livestreamed virtual launch events this year thanks to the pandemic, with rivals such as Samsung (SSNLF) and Google (GOOGL) rolling out several products of their own.
The potential risk is that prospective customers could get weary of the slickly produced marketing — a tech livestream version of “Zoom fatigue” — and hold off on making some purchases.
“After a while, yeah, I think that the magic wears off, especially with these virtual events,” William Stofega, program director for mobile device technology and trends at research firm IDC, said. “Trying to pay attention while people are in your apartment … running around, it’s hard.”
There’s also the massive hit to the economy from the coronavirus that has curtailed many people’s spending power.
While early demand for the iPhone 12 appears to be strong, it remains to be seen whether Apple will get a similar response to its less high-profile offerings — including the new Macs expected on Tuesday.
Some consumers certainly value a break from the barrage of negative news, but the unbridled enthusiasm of tech executives can be grating as well.
“The upbeat messages — it’s nice to hear, but then when you’re struggling, if you have a cutback at your job, there’s always that bleed-over and that could dull the reception,” Stofega said. “The thing that garners the most attention, obviously, is the iPhone and some of the media products, but … it can be a little excessive after a while.”
It’s worth noting that Apple has been forced into staggering some of its launches this year. The coronavirus hit the company’s global supply chains and delayed production of the iPhone 12 by a few weeks, forcing it into an October launch instead of its usual mid-September timeframe (Apple rolled out watches and iPads then instead).
Nothing to lose
For Apple, like many companies holding livestreamed events, there’s very little downside. It’s cheaper and more efficient to produce a one-hour video than it is to host hundreds of reporters and analysts at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, as it usually does. And more events just means more eyeballs and more buzz around its products — livestream fatigue notwithstanding.
“Especially now during the Covid-19 pandemic people are spending more time at home and consuming media, which is what Apple is capitalizing on,” said Maurice Klaehne, an analyst at Counterpoint Research. “These virtual launches have been very well attended and keeping them shorter seems to be working to capture the attention of the viewers.”
And there are signs that the frequent rollouts are helping the company’s bottom line.
“While Apple has indeed added more launches this year, it has not hurt the company,” Klaehne said. “In fact, looking at the most recent earnings reports, Apple increased revenues in all categories.”
The company has expanded its emphasis on services with more offerings as the growth in its device sales has slowed — take, for example, the Apple One subscription bundle it announced earlier this year. Tuesday’s event should help further its services ambitions, with analysts previously saying the switch to in-house chips for Macs will enable Apple’s software and services to work together more seamlessly across devices.
Klaehne says virtual events make that part of the business an easier sell.
“While Apple has historically been driven by its hardware sales, it’s continuing to expand its service revenues,” he said. “Having more launches will only help the company grow this service revenue stream.”