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Everything You Need to Know From Apple, Inc.'s "Spring Forward" Event

By Evan Niu, CFA – Mar 9, 2015 at 5:47PM

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Apple announces more details about its upcoming Apple Watch and unveils a brand new 12-inch MacBook.

Source: Apple.

It's been a while since Apple (AAPL 0.99%) hosted a spring media event. Ever since the Mac maker shifted its iPad product cycle to fall updates alongside the iPhone, Apple hasn't announced products in the spring. Well, the company has done just that, and it had a lot up its sleeve.

Game of iPhones
Tim Cook kicked things off with Apple TV. Apple is partnering with HBO for its new stand-alone streaming service that's intended to challenge Netflix directly. Apple will be the exclusive launch partner when HBO Now launches in April, which is priced at $15 per month (compared to Netflix's $9 per month).

While the Apple TV's internal components are aging (last updated in early 2013), Apple has opted not to give the product a much-needed refresh. Instead, the company continues to increase the number of content providers that it partners with, and it did drop the price from $99 to $69. It's better than nothing.

Apple has now sold 25 million Apple TV units to date. Additionally, Apple has now sold its 700 millionth iPhone.

An Apple a day keeps the doctor away
Apple wants to do what it can to help the medical research community, unveiling a Research Kit, a new software development kit for developers and medical researchers. The company pointed out many problems with the status quo: researchers currently face challenges with subjective data, infrequent data, and asymmetric communication.

As researchers create apps, they can turn iPhones into useful diagnostic tools that can also collect data with user consent, which will hopefully help the medical community at large by providing vast amounts of objective data. Importantly, Apple is even making this platform open source, so it won't be exclusive to iOS. Privacy will remain a top priority, and users will decide whether or not they want to participate and how data is shared. Meanwhile, Apple will not have access to any of the health data.

One possible issue is whether or not there will be regulatory concerns, as Apple takes a step closer to such a highly regulated space.

Back to the Mac
The Mac has now outgrown the broader PC industry for a decade, and Apple unveiled a fresh new MacBook to maintain its momentum. It's the 12-inch Retina MacBook Air that investors have been hearing so much about, except Apple is simply repurposing its "MacBook" brand.

New MacBook. Source: Apple.

The laptop features a 2304 x 1440 Retina display, Force Touch trackpad with Taptic feedback, and utilizes a fanless design made possible by Intel's Core M chips. Since there is no fan, the new MacBook operates silently. Apple is also using uniquely designed battery cells to fit the chassis, boosting battery capacity by 35%. Since this machine is built for mobility, the only ports are a new USB Type-C port and a headphone jack. The USB Type-C port is capable of 5 different functions: USB, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, and power.

The new MacBook starts at $1,299 and ships on April 10. The existing MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineups got some incremental processor refreshes and other minor spec bumps.

And now our feature presentation
Of course, Apple Watch was always destined to be the main event. After spending some time reviewing features and apps that have mostly already been known, Apple finally detailed the most important aspect of its upcoming wearable: price.




Apple Watch Sport



Apple Watch



Apple Watch Edition



Source: Apple.

That's right, the rumors were true. Apple Watch Edition will start at $10,000 and top out at $17,000. With such a wide pricing spectrum, it's anyone's guess as to what kind of average selling price Apple will fetch, not to mention the insane gross margins it will surely enjoy on the gold models.

Apple is officially entering the market for high-end luxury fashion, which isn't particularly surprising when you consider all of its coordinated appearances in the fashion scene (including shows and magazines) recently, building up anticipation for Apple Watch.

Tim Cook also noted that Apple Watch's battery should last for about 18 hours, which was another big question mark regarding the product. The pricey gold models will only be available in limited quantities in select markets. Pre-orders will start on April 10 and Apple Watch ships on April 24.

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple and Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Netflix. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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