As 2009 comes to a close, this seems as good a time as any to start speculating about what goodies Apple might have in store for us for 2010. So, here’s the obligatory 2010 predictions post. Keep in mind I have absolutely no inside knowledge and I’m not even sure this rises to the level of “educated guess.” I’m making this all up as I go along. Tablet
It seems all but a certainty the Apple will introduce some kind of Tablet device.
I think it will be a device very similar to an oversized iPod Touch. It will have Safari, Mail and access to iTunes content. I think it only makes since that this tablet be capable of running programs from the App Store, though perhaps not at the initial release.
In short, I see the Tablet device to be a multi-function device encompassing the functionality of an oversize iPod Touch and a kindle but will be more focused to the playback and viewing of media, specifically including movies, TV shows and eBooks. (See my comments on the iTunes store later.) It will have some basic computer like functionality but will not be a full fledged computer. I’m uncertain if it will come with required 3G service or a cellular contract. I can see that coming later on.
Sadly, I see this device being very expensive. I think the estimates of $800 - $1200 are on par and we’ll likely see something closer to the $1000 range. It won’t come out until the second half of 2010. Like the iPhone, it will drop in price over time, but not until the early adopters have already shelled out he big bucks. (And yes, I will probably be one!)
I don’t see any major changes on the horizon for Apple’s computer lineup. We will see the obligatory bumps in performance throughout the line but I don’t think we’ll see any earth-shattering new designs. The Mac Pros will get a fairly significant bump thanks to the new chips available and due to the fact the iMac is quickly catching up. SSDs will become more common and less expensive, but still not standard.
The MacBook Air will hopefully get another significant price drop, but like the Mac Mini once did, it will languish and go unnoticed. The release of the tablet device and the more compact MacBooks will render it more and more obsolete over time, but it will continue to remain available for people who need an ultra-compact notebook, place a high emphasis on style over performance and have more money than sense. (Just kidding about that last part!)
We’ll get the obligatory iPod revamp in the late Fall. But I think it’s possible we may see the introduction of a camera into the iPod touch early in the year. Apple intended to do this with the last revamp but didn’t dare make any change before Christmas.
The Nanos will see a bump in storage capacity to 16 and 64GB respectively and retain the same price point. I think we’ll also see the camera placement on the device move. (Hey, they have to make some physical change to accommodate all the case manufacturers!) The camera will also get a bump in specs. I would like to see Wi-Fi in the Nanos, but my guess is that will probably hold a few years.
The iPod touch will also see storage bumps up to 128GB as well as a software update to be similar to the iPhone 4.0 update that will surely come. If the touch gets a camera before the Fall event it will probably see a slight rev. The processor will also be upgraded.
The release of a 128 iPod Touch may signal the end of the road for the iPod Classic. Though Apple may wait another year until they can bump the Nanos up to 128GB. Either way, if the Classic stays around it likely won’t see much of an upgrade, if anything, a slightly larger hard drive.
I’m not so sure about this one, but the signs are pointing to the iPhone loosing exclusivity with AT&T. Verizon seems the most logical choice but I think it will largely depend on whether dual band chips are available to allow the iPhone to work with GSM or CDMA carriers. I don’t think Apple will want to make a CDMA and GSM version of the iPhone but depending on the manufacturing costs two lines would create, they might.
iPhone will also see an update. Larger storage capacity up to 64GB, faster processor, and a better camera at least. We may also see the Wi-Fi get bumped to 802.11n and an option for a radio similar to the Nanos, but I’m less confident about these updates. iPhone software 4.0 will be released which may have some more limited functionality for background Applications just so Apple can say they’re keeping up with the competition, but it will be very limited. We’ll also see promises of longer battery life.
Depending on the chips that are available we’ll may see an iPhone capable of working on the 4G network, but virtually no one will have this rolled out so the actual advantage will be negligible to consumers at this time.
Of course, the form factor will change slightly so we’ll all have to buy new accessories, but I don’t see an “iPhone Nano” on the horizon, ever.
I think we will see that iTunes expands once again to include eBooks and Magazines. However, like with the launch of everything on iTunes the selection will be fairly limited at first to a few key partners. I think we’ve already seen the early development of this type of interactive content technology with the iTunes LP format.
More movies will be available with Extras and we’ll see some loosening on the restrictions and more movies will be available for rent after they’re available for sale, but there will still be a discrepancy. The iTunes catalog of Movies and TV shows will continue to grow. We will also start to see the beginnings of a subscription model but it will be very limited at first as not all the studios will be ready to jump in. Because it’s so limited, it likely won’t be enough to allow anyone to seriously consider dumping their cable solely as a result of these additions.
I’m very curious to see what the Lala acquisition will bring along with this multi-million dollar data center. Some kind of ability to stream content or perhaps having some kind of “digital locker” for items bought will be introduced, but again, limited at initial launch.
I don’t think we’ll see much, if any, of an update to iLife and iWork. Apple recently changed the retail packaging of these boxes to remove the “09” designation and I think this is a single we’ll start seeing less frequent updates, which is probably fine. The Pro Apps will likely see updates in the first half of the year.
I don’t foresee any major changes to MobileMe. Though I’m very hopeful we’ll see some performance improvements as a result of the new data center Apple is building. Perhaps an increase in capacity and MobileMe will be used in some way in combination with Lala to be a “digital locker” for purchased items.
Sadly, I don’t see many updates coming to any of Apple’s other devices. The Time Capsule may see a storage bump but not much more. The Mighty Mouse and keyboards are all very popular and I don’t see any changes there.
I don’t foresee any major updates to the AppleTV and it will still remain a “hobby” project. Perhaps an increase in storage size and an availability of more content in iTunes to feed the AppleTV. (see above)
We will likely see a 27” Apple display nearly identical to the one used in the iMacs and if that is the case the 30” display will quietly disappear. Though Apple Displays will continue to be expensive compared to similar sized models from the competition. The new display will have all the same features at the current 24” display.
So there you have it, my gaze into the crystal ball for what Apple will bring in 2010. With the strong exception for the Tablet device, I see this as more of an evolutionary year than a revolutionary one. Please feel free to add your comments below and it will be interesting to look back a year from now and see how full of hot air I was.
Happy New Year…