This week, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduced two new iPhone models and a brand new line of Apple Watch devices. These products are sure to sell by the boatload and are packed to the gills with crowd-pleasing innovations. If nothing else, larger iPhone screens and an NFC-based payment service will keep the cash registers ringing.
That being said, Apple left a few T's uncrossed and I's undotted. These are the three biggest disappointments of this weeks big Apple event.
No sapphire screens for iPhone 6
When Apple set up a close partnership with GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQOTH:GTATQ) to build a sapphire screen factory in Arizona, GT investors went wild. The partnership pointed to the likelihood of some massive sapphire orders in 2014, tied to what we now know as Apple Watch and possibly the iPhone line too. iPad screens might be a stretch, even for enthusiasts of the ultra-tough material, but you never know, right?
GT's shares jumped more than 12% in a couple of days and 50% in a month, and then they gained 80% as Apple prepared the big reveal.
And ... GT's sapphire screens were involved, but only on the unproven Watch device. iPhones and iPads will have to wait their turn, assuming that Apple plans to introduce sapphire screens to these product lines at all. Right now, we just don't know.
Against that backdrop, GT Advanced's shares fell more than 25% on Apple's news. The stock is still up since that momentous partnership announcement, but it isn't the huge winner investors were hoping for.
I'll note that a sapphire-clad iPhone 6 always looked unlikely. GT Advanced's collapsing share price is more of a failed speculation than an outright disappointment. Still, many observers were hoping for sapphire-clad iPhones, and they didn't get any.
The Apple Watch battery life
The first wave of Android-powered smartwatches has come under fire for poor battery performance. The Moto 360, for example, would drain its battery every day and require a recharge every night. Who wants to deal with that?
Unfortunately, the Apple Watch isn't doing any better. The company didn't share any battery-life details from the announcement stage, leaving Re/Code reporter John Paczkowski to probe his Cupertino contacts for more information. Paczowski's insider friends estimated the battery life as "about a day," which would require a nightly recharge.
Apple's official spokespeople neither confirmed nor denied this. "There's a lot of new technology packed into Apple Watch and we think people will love using it throughout the day," they told Paczowski. "We anticipate that people will charge nightly, which is why we designed an innovative charging solution that combines our MagSafe technology and inductive charging."
In other words, yeah, you'll need to park this device on its charging station every evening. Forget that, and you'll be unable to use it the next day.
This is the biggest downer of Apple's announcement. The battery technology itself is improving, but Apple and other mobile device makers have chosen to take the improved cells in the wrong direction.
Cupertino puts a lot of work into producing thin and light devices. That's fine, but why not trade a little bit of that shrunken space for a larger battery? After all, it's exactly what users are asking for.
My own phone, for example, is covered by the first phone case I've ever owned. Not because I'm afraid of breaking it, but because at 8.9mm thick, its svelte frame was just too thin to hold comfortably. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are even thinner. I'd gladly trade a bigger battery for some very welcome bulk, and I'm sure I'd do the same in a wristwatch format.
What about HomeKit and the Internet of Things?
At the World Wide Developers Conference earlier this summer, Apple introduced a handful of new development frameworks. Of these, the HealthKit and HomeKit tools attracted the most attention. HealthKit sets Apple up as a powerhouse in personal health and fitness monitoring; HomeKit opens up a multibillion-dollar door to the Internet of Things megatrend.
HealthKit fulfilled its early promised, garnering lots of screen time in Apple's iOS 8 and Apple Watch presentations. So far, so good -- now let's wait for that juicy HomeKit announcement!
... And wait, and wait, and wait some more. Count the tumbleweeds, sing along with the chirping crickets. And that's the end of the presentation.
At the end of the day, Apple had not shared any HomeKit features for the Watch, the iPhone 6, or iOS 8. The company is no closer to dominating -- or even playing a part in -- the Internet of Things today than it was on Monday.
Sure, Apple is probably biding its time, perfecting its platform, polishing every last blemish out before launching HomeKit for real. Again, that's fine. But the competition isn't standing still, and time is money. I can't help feeling that Apple is missing a huge opportunity right now.
Anders Bylund owns shares of Google and Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple, Google (A and C shares), and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.