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What do the new iPhones, watch and iOS mean for retail?

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The dust may have yet to settle on the launch of the iPhone ‘ten’ and the 8, 8-Plus, Watch 3, 4K TV and iOS11 but having watched the launch I am asking myself what is it going to do to retail.

There has been much frothing about what the phone means for consumers – not least making it a two tier iPhone system now – but some of the changes brought about by the launch of all these new gadgets could prove interesting to retailers.

Apple Pay just got harder

The most striking thing to me about the launch is the impact that the iffy facial recognition (it didn’t work in the live demo on stage at the roll out, what hope the rest of the time?) on the new flagship iPhone X has on the fledgling Apple Pay space.

While Apple Pay has struggled to make any real in roads against contactless cards (until merchants lifter the £30 limit for contactless Apple Pay payments but not cards) that is all set to unravel for X users.

They don’t have the luxury of the fingerprint recognition system where you can just tap and pay. Instead they are going to have to double click the side button, look at the phone (and hope it recognises them) and then tap. I think I will stick to my card.

Watch it

The Apple Watch continues to struggle to find a home, but with the Watch 3 (and Watch OS4) now supporting Apple Pay via not just iPhone 6 and above but also the 5s, there is every chance that the watch may start to become a tap and pay tool – though I am not sure if to do so you also have to tap your X twice, look at it then waft your watch about.

Aside from telling the time and maybe paying for things, I have never really got the Apple Watch. I don’t want to stream music from it, I don’t need it to tell me I have messages and I don’t really want a reminder of how unfit I am. Watch 3 does nothing for me. For retailers it may well up the amount of Apple Pay payments they take.


iPhone X, 8 and more pertinently iOS11, have been built with AR in mind. The tiny bezels of iPhone X will make AR apps more immersive than on other smartphones. The new cameras draw less power, which will help AR apps run for longer than they will on iPhone 7 models.

“And”, says Ian Fogg, senior director, mobile & telecom, IHS Markit, “because of the tight integration of software and hardware, AR developers will know their AR experiences will run smoothly on all supported iOS devices. Apple will gain a significant time advantage over Google and Android-based OEMs where there are numerous camera designs in use, and AR support will take much longer to roll out across the Android installed base because the sluggishness of Android OEM software update cycles. As a result, Apple will have a long window to use AR experiences to market iPhone hardware and drive additional sales before Android catches up in late 2018.”

The move towards better AR is indicative of where smartphones are going – and it is a pointed to retailers as to where their customers are going. If you take one thing away from the iPhone launch this week it is that you need to get into AR ASAP

Animojis anyone?

While the tech press are getting breathless about the spec of the new phones, I think the launch of Animojis in iOS11 is something to look at from a retail perspective. The idea that people can send animated emojis, and add their voice, offers some interesting dimensions to customer engagement. While some brands and retailers are only just starting to look at how to use emojis, it may well be worth exploring what animated emojis might be able to do for your business.

Of course, you don’t want to make them the main thrust of your marcomms, but there is probably an argument for adding animojis with soothing voices and beatific smiles to customer live chat, marketing emails and texts and so on. One to ponder.

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