NEW YORK—Even following its two-hour plus press shindig Wednesday, there are several unknowns facing Apple in the weeks and months ahead.
In some areas Apple will be facing newly competitive pressures. In others, it needs to penetrate markets others have gotten to first. Here's what to keep an eye on:
*Smartwatches. The fact that Apple hasn't disclosed sales numbers for the Apple Watch has left many people people wondering just how well the company's prized wearable is faring. Of course, in announcing new watchbands and styles on Wednesday, and indicating that there are now some 10,000 apps, well ahead of what's available for Samsung's watches and for Android Wear devices, Apple remains firmly committed to the category.
Apple's new Watch OS2 software will be available for your wrist on Sept. 16, promising fresh watch faces, more native apps that don't require you to carry your phone, and other features with the potential to make wearing the watch more appealing. We'll see.
Competition is heating up. Samsung is about to release its own new Gear S2smartwatches based on the Tizen operating system. New Android Wear watches are also in the works, with refreshed entries from Asian competitors such as Lenovo-owned Motorola (the Moto 360), LG and Huawei. Meantime, the latest Android Wear watches get a boost from new Google software that will allow some models to work with the iPhone.
*Apple Pay. Expect the next few months to provide a further proving ground for Apple Pay, an area Apple will again face off against Samsung and Google. Apple Pay lets you use your phone, tablet or watch to pay for store in physical stores or and online.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that 1.5 million U.S. merchants will be Apple Pay-ready by year end. And Discover is joining American Express, MasterCard and Visa as credit companies that are compatible with Apple's system.
How big a threat Samsung will pose to Apple Pay in the U.S. is an unknown. But when Samsung Pay launches here at the end of this month on compatible Samsung flagship phones, it will claim one theoretical advantage against Apple Pay—it promises to work in more places. That's because Samsung Pay not only is compatible with the kind of NFC-type terminals where Apple Pay (and Android Pay) work, but also on most of the older older terminals that rely on so-called magnetic stripe technology.
Other competition will come from Google, which hadn't had much success with Google Wallet, but now has a renewed focus under what is now called Android Pay.
*Apple Music. It'll be three months at the end of September since Apple launchedApple Music. That means the free trial period for premium features on the streaming service will soon expire. You may like Apple Music but face a conundrum if you already pay for Spotify or another streaming competitor. Has Apple convinced you to switch and pay $9.99 for a monthly Apple Music membership or $14.99 for a family membership (of up to six)? How many people answer yes will help define the success of Apple Music.
Meantime, Apple has said that it will have a version of Apple Music for Android users too, but hasn't specified timing.