Let’s face it: since Steve Jobs’ death in 2011, Apple hasn’t offered anything truly new. That’s not to say Apple has disappointed consumers—no. It’s just that, especially this past year, most of Apple’s offerings to consumers have been subtle—some updates, some tweaks here and there to existing products; in other words, nothing major has happened in a while besides the unveiling of the new Mac Pro.
2014 will be different. It’ll be dynamic.
What the Boss Said
“[D]uring the fiscal Q2 2013 earnings call back in April,” Apple’s CEO Tim Cook stated: “We see great opportunities in front of us, particularly given the long-term prospects of the smartphone and tablet market, the strength of our incredible ecosystem, which we plan to continue to augment with new services, our plans for expanded distribution, and the potential of exciting new product categories”
Just to reiterate, folks: new product categories.
Cook also said, “Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can’t wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014. We continue to be very confident in our future product plans.”
This is great news, especially considering that Cook is entering his third year as Apple’s CEO and hasn’t yet released a truly innovative product. Since he became head of the company, products and software have merely been updated. Just routine stuff. Not that Cook is incapable; he has certainly proven that he can keep Apple running smoothly and keep the quality of its output consistently at a high standard. 2014 will be the year he proves whether or not he can lead Apple in innovation as Jobs once did.
So what can we expect from Apple this year and in the next couple of years?
The iPad Pro
This past year, Apple came out with the iPad Air, it’s lightest tablet yet at “just 7.5 millimeters thin and weigh[ing] just one pound” with a screen size of 9.7-inches. Given the naming scheme of Apple’s Macbooks, the company’s decision to tack “Air” onto “its main iPad model…seem[s] to telegraph the upcoming arrival of a Pro model.” There have been rumors of a 12.9-inch iPad running on an “ultra-fast ‘A8’ chip” in the works. The tablet will likely be used for education, but I suspect other services (hospitals, businesses, etc.) will use the tablet as well. Could this be the iPad Pro we should be looking forward to?
Even if this new tablet isn’t the iPad Pro everyone is expecting, the bigger screen and the faster chip may totally change the PC industry. A tablet capable of accomplishing what we expect a “‘desktop’ operating system” to accomplish will obscure the boundary between tablets and laptops. If Apple does release such a tablet, the company will be well on its way to achieving what other companies could not: a convertible PC. Apple will open up and even dominate a new market of hybrid laptop-tablets. It’s an exciting prospect worth keeping tabs on.
Larger iPhone Screens
iPhone users seems to have a lot of beef with the phone’s screen size. “Too small” is what consumers have been saying. It seems 2014 will be the year Apple heeds its customers’ grievance. In November of last year, one source said that Apple was testing screen sizes of 4.7 to 5.5 inches; in September, another source claimed the company was testing screen sizes as large as 6 inches. Whatever the case, these claims are indicative of Apple moving toward an increase in it iPhone’s screen size. I would look for the bigger screen in the iPhone 6.
Conception Design: Todd Hamilton
Conception Design: Todd Hamilton
Here is the new product category to look for: a smart watch by Apple. In a conference last year, Cook indicated his interest in tech wearables, even saying that “the wrist [is] a better target for a wearable device than smart glasses.” It makes sense that Apple would move in on this corner of the market, especially after Google Glass and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear both flopped. With the company’s knack for design and integration, Apple could easily profit with the iWatch. Of course, “the real potential of the product will emerge as an app ecosystem develops around it.”
Apple has been trademarking “iWatch” in several countries and “is contracting with…GT Advanced for the reported 1.5-inch ‘sapphire glass’ display.” The watch’s function most likely “will focus on biometrics, offering users feedback on health and activity by acting as a pedometer, heart rate monitor and possibly more.”
2014 will be the year that Apple steps up its game. They continue to put out the same great quality and are “poised to continue posting strong financial results,” but we haven’t seen much in the way of innovation these past few years. That will change with the release (perhaps) of an iPad Pro, a larger screen on the iPhone 6, and the iWatch. We’ll keep you updated on those products as they are released.