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Apple's iPhone 6, Apple Watch rollout: Winners and losers

Apple delivered what it had to on the product roadmap front, froze the smartwatch market, punched Samsung and set up its ecosystem for new frontiers. Here's a look at the fallout.

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Image: Apple


Apple's launch of the iPhone 6, its alleged phablet killing iPhone 6 Plus and preview of its Apple Watch due in early 2015 gives rivals a lot to chew on.

In the next-day analysis of Apple's highly touted event it's clear that the company set itself up to transform its business model with more of an e-commerce twist and outlined a product roadmap that'll appease critics worried about innovation.

In addition, Apple's event set a clear line between winners and losers. Here's a look.

Winners:

American Express, Visa, and Mastercard and a bevy of financial partners. Apple's iPhone 6 along with its Apple Watch have NFC and the general thinking is that the company has the consumer heft to change how we pay at checkout via Apple Pay . The timing is also good given that retailers have to install new point-sale-systems for chip and PIN technology by October 2015. In any case, Apple's mobile payment plans could be a win-win for payment networks and the company based on volume. Analysts covering the payment networks also said that it's unlikely Apple was able to wring concessions out of them so the economics are good.

IBM. Apple's move to cover the bases with various screen sizes will help Big Blue pitch more devices to the enterprise. Phablets are likely to be more of a hit for the enterprise and corporate road warriors . Meanwhile, larger screens may give IBM more room to showcase analytics apps, which are still in development. It's also worth noting that the IBM-Apple deal is in its early stages and there wasn't a hint of enterprise plugs in Cook's presentation. 

Retailers such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Apple's latest iPhones will largely be sold in the company's owned stores, but players such as Best Buy will garner more traffic as buyers check out the devices starting Sept. 19. The wild card will be supply and how many devices Apple gives retail partners. Best Buy toned down its expectations for the sales halo effected attributed to the iPhone 6. The good news for Best Buy: There will be enough interest in the Apple Watch to keep the traffic coming. The downside: Apple just froze the smartwatch market so Best Buy will have trouble selling those devices in those Samsung store-within-a-stores.

Contract equipment manufacturers. Hon Hai, owner of Foxconn, along with players such as Pegatron/Wistron will benefit from Apple's supply chain ramp to produce iPhone 6 devices. However, the gains will be spread around since Apple has diversified its supplier network.

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CEO Tim Cook. By sharing more of Apple's direction and roadmap, Cook did just enough to shake critics that the company can't innovate. Although Apple's moves could be seen as largely defensive, its implementation and approach to categories such as wearables and mobile payments may become unique. Apple's smartwatch has the fashion sense, app ecosystem and innovation you'd expect from the company. Meanwhile, proprietary bands for the smartwatch are likely to be Apple's biggest moneymaker. Also:  Apple Watch: A look at the hits and misses

Losers:

Samsung. Apple's 5.5 inch iPhone 6 is likely to eat into Samsung's Galaxy Note franchise. Meanwhile, Samsung's plan to cover the market with various screen sizes has now been matched by Apple, which has a fairly aggressive price point with a two-year contract . Samsung's Unpacked event last week felt rushed and didn't break a lot of new ground. The Galaxy Note Edge was interesting, but the overall lineup wasn't enough to pre-empt Apple. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White torched the Samsung event last week:

"Samsung introduced new mobile device products that we believe were aimed at creating a buzz around Samsung ahead of Apple's Special Event on September 9, in an effort to steer consumers to the company's new smartphones this fall. In our view, this strategy was ill-advised because we found the event 'half baked' with no details around the price points, launch dates a bit fuzzy, limited tech specifications, and "gimmicky" features. With the potential threat of this event now out of the way, we believe this just made Apple's "Fab Fall" launch a lot easier because the company's No. 1 competitor does not appear well prepared to take on Apple's new iPhones this fall."

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Smartwatch vendors. Samsung is a key proponent of Android Wear and other smartwatch efforts along with rival LG. The bottom line here is that Apple announced a wearable and froze the market. It's unclear how health wearable players such as Jawbone and Fitbit will be affected by Apple. Forrester analyst James McQuivey said:

Apple's Watch strategy, though not coming to a store near you soon, has firmly established the smartwatch as a new category. Would-be competitors may take solace in how many months they have before the watches go on sale, but they have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to compete with Apple on the more complete experience the Apple Watch offers. It's not just a device; it's a lifestyle.

Apple will also have three flavors of watches. Apple Watch comes in three distinct collections---Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition---available in two different sizes, 38 mm and 42 mm.

Google. Apple has now staked out the same turf as Google with a focus on health monitoring and connected homes. The winning formula may revolve around integration, user interface and design. Google specializes in data, but its implementation for things like Google Fit have largely been left to developers. Apple has managed to coordinate key players around its HealthKit and HomeKit efforts better than Google has. Apple's activity app, which tracks workouts as well as general activity, is also well baked. Toss in more competition for large screen Android devices and smartwatches and Google has its work cut out.

Amazon. The e-commerce giant's move to lower the price of the Fire Phone to 99 cents with a two-year contract tell you all you need to know about sales. Apple's launch of the iPhone 6 will suck the wind out of the smartphone upgrade cycle and leave Amazon on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, Apple's entry into commerce — with a focus on brick and mortar — will indirectly hamper Amazon.