This time last year, we at Appletell peered into our crystal ball to see what Apple would do in 2012. Now that we’re safely in 2013 we can see how accurate our predictions were and attempt to look ahead at Apple’s plans for the coming year.
I wasn’t part of last year’s predictions, but for 2013? Updated Macs, updated iPhones/iPads/iPods, blah, blah, the usual. Apple follows a pretty standard innovate-iterate cycle, but what really remains to be seen is whether any truly revolutionary new products (not merely iterations of existing ones, like the iPad Mini) will be forthcoming this year. Maybe it’s too much to hope for a repeat performance of the iPhone or iPad launch, but Apple does need to demonstrate its ability to drop insanely great products to shake up industries even without Steve Jobs guidance.
Hardware Iterations — The Fusion Drive is a cheap and easy way to speed things up, and Apple has demonstrated a willingness to shoehorn flash memory in non-standard configurations. Expect to see Pro laptops with onboard SSD+HDD configurations for the ultimate in speed and storage. iDevices will likely follow the new chamfered look of the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, and maybe we’ll see crazy thin devices that are friction stir welded shut, rather than requiring screws (sorry iFixit!)?
Design Iteration (and Software) — With the unification of hardware and software design responsibility under Jony Ive, a thorough housecleaning is certainly in order. iTunes 11 showed us a peek of the future; iLife and Pro apps like Aperture are long overdue for a refresh, and the new iTunes interface conventions would be a welcome change.
Innovations — The launch of the iPad was Steve Jobs’ last big market-shattering moment, and Apple is currently coasting on evolved versions of market-altering products like the MacBook Air and iPhone. With millions of AppleTVs and iPads in use around the world, Apple is quietly building a go-to-market strategy for an entertainment revolution that spans beyond just television into mobile entertainment as well. Hopefully Apple can undercut the cringe-inducing “bundling” practices of the cable industry and shake up video entertainment the same way they did for digital music.
Last year I predicted Apple would bring back the Mac Pro in a big way and have a ton of customization options. Tim Cook did email a customer to say that Apple was working on “something really great” for the professional market, but he didn’t give any details of what this could be, and it isn’t coming until late 2013. While it would be safe to assume Apple is working on an upgraded Mac Pro, they could be doing just about anything. Therefore I’d have to say that my prediction was incorrect, or maybe partially correct if I’m feeling charitable.
I also predicted the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad would come out with new colors when they get updated, which was also incorrect. Upon reflection, this was a silly thing to say because it wouldn’t make sense for Apple to make different colors when many people use cases anyway. Cases have colors and designs Apple can’t compete with, and it would just increase production cost.
OS X and iOS Partnership — iCloud is a nice way of connecting an iDevice with your Mac or even Windows computer, but I think a lot more could be done to tie the operating systems and programs they run together. I’m not saying OS X will be using gestures or iOS will need a mouse, but a sharing of data or collaboration on the same program no matter what version you’re using would be interesting.
I also think new ways of interacting with OS X and iOS will be designed that will be different from what we’re used to, but will be instantly understandable and accepted as the new normal interface by everyone and copied endlessly.
Cool Factor — Other tablet and smart phone manufacturers will try to get marketshare from Apple by introducing new designs, both hardware and software, in an attempt to make the iPad and iPhone look old and stale by comparison. Apple will then refuse to fundamentally change their products and will be proven correct when the new designs fall by the wayside because they will be horrible.
- No TV from Apple – check
- Online system for cable subscriptions – not yet
- MacBook Pro will kill optical drive – check
- iTunes split into multiple programs – well, but there was a major overhaul
2013 could be an iterative year for Apple—more of the same, but better: faster, thinner, and with the usual striking design.
Fixing iOS — My big prediction is that Apple will introduce an iOS 7 that will fix all the problems. There will be a unified design without skeuomorphic effects (bye bye, stitched leather), a new Maps upgrade that will make the app more accurate and smarter (able to help you navigate confusing routes with multiple off-ramps, for example), and will present a new way of working with an iOS device that all the other makers will rush to copy.
Fixing Cable — However, Apple is not a company that simply polishes its design, nor do they do what tech journalist suggest they do (I’ve often wondered why people think Apple should listen to tech journos: it’s akin to the old joke about taking career advice from your high school guidance counselor). We could get from Apple TV what I predicted last year—not a monitor, but a new way of buying TV. The dream, of course, is an a la carte cable system, which everyone who’s making money off cable is fighting tooth and nail. To truly disrupt that market, Apple would have to buy a content creator. They certainly have the money for that, and Apple is in the business of “making the whole widget.” However, it creates a slew of nightmares for them in terms of regulation and management. So what will Apple TV be? Something we can’t imagine.
Last year I predicted the iPod classic would be ignored but not killed off, Thunderbolt will gain ground slowly, and Apple will release software updates that they would then stop caring about. The first two predictions have come true, and considering Apple did release iTunes 11 and iOS 6 with some fanfare only to stop talking about them shortly thereafter, maybe that prediction was right, as well.
So, for 2013?
Back on Track with the iPad — I expect we’ll see yet another iPad with more significant updates than the 4th gen this spring, and we’ll then back on the yearly update path for that. It’s currently Apple’s only big ticket springtime product, and they’ll want something to talk about ahead of WWDC. Not sure, however, if the iPad mini joins it in March/April or sticks with a fall release.
Correcting Mistakes — As Bill stated, Apple apps such as Calendar and Contact will lose their skeuomporphic look and be launched with a sleeker design that fits the hardware. Watch for these designs to be unveiled (without ceremony) at WWDC 2013.
Retina Remains Mobile — No Retina display iMacs or Cinema/Thunderbolt Displays.
Death of a Classic – This is the year when Apple finally kills off my much beloved iPod classic. Although still my iPod of choice, it’s been the black sheep for too long, especially considering Apple is doing away with the hard drive in just about everything else they sell. It it survives, it’ll do so with a flash drive, and the days of 160GB of storage will leave us behind. Perhaps a 128GB flash drive? Maybe that’s what they’ve been waiting for all along.