I want to start off by saying Apple has alot of answer for on Monday morning(Apple Videostream/TheVerge Commentary Video). Not because of the stock price (which is bad), or the recent accusations of leaked data (also very bad), but because they haven’t done anything since Fall 2012!
Yes, that’s right, the biggest richest company on Earth hasn’t really done anything publicly in 9 months. Well, for many companies that would be okay (I’m lookin’ at you WalMart), but this is Apple we’re talking about. They are expected to change the world on a quarterly basis, by bringing out new amazing gadgets and groovy software. After a dramatic reshuffling of the executive team (Scott Forstall has been an ‘adviser’ for a while now), it’s time to see what they’ve been doing all this time, and if the strategy really worked. As such, almost every product line is on the table. Let’s see:
iOS 7 / OS X
WWDC stands for WorldWide Developer Conference. So let’s expect lots of software stuff, and lots of SDK’s, and lots of power user features. What do developers want to hear? That it’s easier to do their jobs and easier to make money, and that they’re on the right platform.
Rumors abound that iOS 7 is getting flatter, and less glossy.But visual changes are not enough, what’s needed are completely new ideas. For example, I strongly believe the ‘notification tray’ in iOS is a totally wonky and practically useless implementation. Inside Baseball: We’ve already seen touches of Jonny Ive’s design on iOS software (simplifying and re-designing the hideous Podcasts app). We now know that one of the most famous and iconic Industrial Designers on Earth has free reign to tweak iOS and OS X, meaning they should both come out looking beautiful.
Mac OS X, as the traditional PC industry crumples in on itself, is getting more ‘mobile’. My guess is that Apple is prepping to release what is essentially a mobile all in one (think ‘MacPad’; think Microsoft Surface) effectively merging both OSes. If that sounds clunky, you’re right, and that’s why it’s taking so long for this thing to come out.
I must say, the popularity of Pandora Spotify and Rdio totally baffles me. Are these companies actually profitable? These services have essentially been made popular by the complete lack of a media solution on Android. iPhone/iOS users have obviously had access to the iTunes Store since day one, so they’ve never needed music streaming services. But alas, subscription music is a thing now, and if anyone wants it, it’s probably coming to iOS and will be called iRadio. I get so much free excellent content via Podcasts, I have zero interest in this.
AppleTV – Software
There are already millions of AppleTVs out there. It gets software updates, and I’m hoping another one will shoot out tomorrow. Fingers are crossed for an SDK so developers can put their apps on the TV via this thing. On this point I have to stress: the most interesting possibility here is not necessarily apps and games on the TV, but rather channels and networks as apps. If you could pick and choose a handful of networks you like, and buy them (say HBO 2013, ESPN 2014, Yankees 2014), you start to get away from the nightmare that is the current Cablebox UI.
As for games (bringing the megaton App Store to the TV), the only thing stopping AppleTV from becoming a bonafide games console is the lack of physical buttons.Will Apple support or ship a physical controller? Very doubtful. What about motion control? Give Microsoft (and Nintendo for that matter) credit: motion control would actually solve this problem, and is a much more elegant and future-proof solution. But that would mean new AppleTVs have a camera sensor. Or Apple has to make a TV.
iPhone 5S, iPhone Max
Quite possible. There have been wild rumors about a Galaxy Note competitor, though it would never get ‘wider’ unless it was a huge iPod touch. Apple believes phones should fit in your hand, which is why the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 are the same width. As before, Apple plans to release these things in the Fall, and pre-announcing things would kill sales of current devices. The only exception is if you announce something that currently is not on the market (eg. a new class or category of devices). Interestingly, Cook did mention they are working on a new category of products.
The cheapest iPhone you can get now is free on contract (eg. 3 yrs contract with AT&T/Rogers, etc). The only way you can beat free is obviously a no-contract phone, unlocked. Imagine if Apple shipped a $300 iPhone with a 3.5 inch screen. Obviously no phone company would be distributing it, so customers would have to pick it up at the Apple Store (or order online). it would be low powered and plasticky (think iPhone 3GS), but would still have a Retina display and a decent camera. I’m not saying this is happening, I’m saying I hope it does. Think about China. Tim Cook has proudly announced that China will soon be its number one market. This is a pretty good business model, sell hardware to China because hardware can’t easily be pirated (by consumers at least; by competitors, that’s another story).
This is an interesting but totally niche product. On Monday, however, Apple will be talking to a room full of developers who are salivating over the prospect of a new, more powerful machine (again, anything that make their jobs as developers and designers easier). I’m hoping that Apple is going to develop a cohesive design strategy with the AppleTV/Mac mini/Mac Pro, making the Mac Pro look like 3 Mac minis stacked on top of each other, or something along those lines. As it stands the Mac Pro looks very strange in that lineup.
The Macbooks are by far the most important and popular macs out there (even the iMac is kind of a meh product at this point). Expect a mention, and expect more proliferation of Retina displays. For Developers that means higher end graphics.
iMac/AppleTV – Hardware
It’s worth noting here that the TV business itself isn’t really an interesting business to get into. Most people buy TV’s less often than they buy cars. TV’s don’t move. They’re pretty heavy. I’m hoping Apple can mix things up a little here, but if they skip the market altogether (Apple Displays, anyone?) it wouldn’t really matter. Set top boxes move. TV’s themselves don’t.
Having said that, we keep getting these quips from the CEO about how obsessed they are with TV. I’m hoping the iMac line will just become their TV (Retina display, obviously), and you can just hang it on the wall (already possible). As I mentioned above, there are things you can do with TV (built in Camera for FaceTime; built in sensor for games and motion control; built-in Siri to talk to your TV). All of these sound like things Microsoft is already doing with Xbox, putting Apple and Microsoft on a collision course. Sounds like fun.
Sure. Whatever. These are just revs anyway. Spec bumps. Lower prices. Movin’ on.
This is weird. We all know that Google Glass is already out, and it’s been a bit of a punchline in the tech community. We also know that Apple has recently been awarded a ton of wearable tech patents. Lastly, Tim Cook has recently made very very strong hints towards wearable tech at the D Conference. So it’s shoes? Watches? Something fashionable like the Jawbone Up? The possibilities for body/behavior tracking are pretty cool, but it’s just not mainstream yet. This is what Apple is very good at. Popularizing something that previously only geeks knew about (think Podcasts).
Alright, that’s all the important stuff. Things like updates to iWork and iLife are great but no appropriate to discuss at a Developer Conference. As per Apple’s history, these presentations only run for 90 minutes. That sounds like a long time but it’s really not. Apple will often spend a good 20 minutes patting itself on the back, and usually bring out a few key Devs to talk about interesting apps they’re working on. As such…90 minutes is closer to 60 minutes of actual time to announce new stuff. That means they will only announce the coolest stuff. Not everything on this list will even be talked about. What I’ve posted are fun guesses, but I have no idea what they’ll do. I’m just as excited as the next geek.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, hit me up on Twitter.