Analysis: Apple’s September 2017 Announcements (Premium)

The best and worst of Apple was on display at yesterday's press event, a two-hour commercial for the company's products and, in theory, its values.

These events are tough for non-sycophants such as myself. I don't take everything Apple says at face value, as they would prefer. And I certainly don't buy into the theory that the world's most profitable company is in any way out to help humanity or make the world a better place. Apple makes great products, and it makes great amounts of money doing so. There's no need to further glamorize a corporate conglomerate that, quite frankly, cares a lot less about you than you do about it.

So I'm going to skip over the hubris stuff, which was right up front and center at yesterday's event, the ludicrous renaming of its retail stores to "town squares," as if a monument to commerce could in any way replace the very real town squares that dot this country and other countries. Instead, I'm going to focus today on what really matters to me, and, I assume, to readers here. Whether Apple's new products are worth a damn.

Some are. And some aren't.

Here, I will offer a bit of commentary on yesterday's announcements, and try to put what Apple is really doing in perspective. I'll do so in the order in which the products were announced. Sorry.
Apple Watch Series 3
Almost 30 minutes into this rambling event, Apple finally got to its first new product of the day: A long-rumored, LTE cellular capable Apple Watch. Dubbed Apple Watch Series 3, this device utilizes exactly the same form factor as the Apple Watch Series 2, which is nice for those who "invested" in straps and accessories. But it was probably necessitated by the battery demands of this device's new capabilities.

Apple Watch is pure Apple. By which I mean it's a paradox, a weird combination of great style and horrific battery life. An expensive iPhone companion that is, at turns, the "best-selling watch" (whatever that means) but also not Apple's Next Big Thing.

A couple of points about Apple Watch Series 3.

Cellular is optional. While you might assume that the very point of Series 3 is LTE cellular, it's not. The devices replace Series 2 in the lineup (the comparatively ancient Series 1 is still available as a lower-priced, entry-level option for the less well-heeled), and only the higher-end version offers cellular capabilities.

Cellular usage is not "free" or included with your cell phone plan. Apple was cute to mention that using the new Watch over cellular wouldn't require a new phone number (for some reason); it told the audience that it will share your existing iPhone's phone number. What was not mentioned is that you will have to pay extra to use Apple Watch over cellular. On AT&T, for example, this feature---called NumberSync---will incur a $10 per month charge on top of your existing bill.

There's no real onboard storage. Apple also touted how you can "stream 40 million songs from your wrist." From Apple Music on...

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