So that we're not leaving our readership sitting in the dark wondering what the TUAW bloggers are prognosticating for the next year, here are our
- Big DUH! The Apple Tablet arrives. There are way too many hints flying around the blogosphere for this to be a non-product for another year. It's gotta happen!
- The Apple TV disappears from the Apple lineup. I hates it, I does. It just doesn't seem like an Apple product.
- iPhone moves to multiple US carriers, but not Verizon. Why? Wrong network for a world (read GSM) phone, and I think Apple is probably irritated with Verizon's Droid and their advertising.
- Apple closes some low-producing Apple Stores. The economy is still bad, and there have to be some locations with stores that aren't pulling their weight.
- Apple buys Dropbox, BackBlaze, and Evernote, makes MobileMe useful. Dropbox for better and faster folder syncing between devices, BackBlaze for external backups to the cloud, Evernote just because it's cool. Add 'em all together and what do you have? Something that's really worth paying $99 a year for. Apple definitely has the cash to buy these services.
- The Apple TV reappears in the Apple lineup as a high-quality autostereoscopic 3DTV with TiVo, Slingbox, and Boxee functionality built in. I can dream, can't I?
I'm hoping this will be the year of the tablet. Of course, I've been anticipating the year of the tablet since, oh say, around 1993 or so. Apple's future isn't about the hardware though, and it's not about their OS line: it's about their ability to deliver media. I'm thinking "iTunes gone large". Apple's Lala acquisiition, rumored TV deals, and possible textbook distribution agreements point to a renewed focus on content delivery devices.
Admittedly, Apple TV has never really evolved into its promise, perhaps due to areas into which Apple was not able to expand due to licensing deals with companies with Cable/Broadband interests but the iPhone has gone above and beyond in the media realm. So do I see a tablet (or a line of tablet devices) as a natural extension of the Apple content store? Absolutely. Will we see it this year? Possibly. Will it be early this year? Hard to say. Ask me again in a month.
The tablet, yes, there will be one, it will be spectacular, and about three months after introduction it will drop in price by $200. People who bought the original version would be annoyed except they're so giddy from having had a piece of the future in their knapsacks for three months.
We'll see Apple get serious about cloud services by buying a company that's doing online storage right (Dropbox guys, don't make your numbers unlisted) and creating a capability that will actually rival some of the more effective platforms out there. Apple needs a Microsoft Mesh-like solution to really unlock the portable power of its devices. Then again, the tablet.
2010 will be the year that hackintoshes become more than a distraction and a legal burden. The Psystar battle shows that Apple knows there's risk, and sooner or later the netbooks-on-OS-X market will collide with the business realities of Apple's day to day operations. Then again, the tablet.
We'll see a secondary carrier for the iPhone in the US (yay!). It will not be Verizon (darn!), it will be T-Mobile. The Verizon iPhone is a 2011 phenomenon, but by then the prevalence of portable Wi-Fi and VoIP solutions for mobile will start to scratch away at the cellphone market's power. Then again, the tablet.
Mac OS X 10.7 will return us to 'new features' land; we'll learn about it at WWDC and see it by 2011.
- There will be a tablet. Even though Steve Jobs said Apple wasn't working on one, remember he also denied the iPhone was coming for a long time too. There seems to be a crescendo of stories about the tablet (i-Slate, i-Pad, whatever) and that's a pretty good indication something is on the way.
- Changes to MobileMe. Maybe cheaper, certainly some new features. The system has come a long way, but it can hardly be called reliable, and I think for the money it needs more features and/or a lower price. The notification system could use some improving as well. When things go down it seems to take an awfully long time for Apple support to post something about it.
- A new AppleTV. I think something is likely, something beyond the current hardware/software. I like my AppleTV, but it is still feature poor and very limited in sources for video. Apple should get something a bit more interesting out, or hang this product out to dry.
- Blu-ray. Originally Apple was a big proponent of this hi-rez video disc. Now, not so much. I expect Apple will have to start adding Blu-ray to desktops and laptops, maybe even to the AppleTV. Sure there have been some licensing cost issues, but others are getting past it and offering it on windows based hardware. Come on Apple, get with it.
- Apple will get 'Back to my Mac' working. It was a highly touted feature of MobileMe, but for a large population of Mac users, it simply doesn't work. Hard to get excited about a feature I pay for and can't use. Other applications seem to be able to solve these router and security issues. Back to my Mac should just work.
- A new iPhone. The easiest prediction of all to make. They seem to come out like clockwork, and force many of us to ditch our older models and re-up with our favorite carrier.
- Speaking of favorite carriers, I think Apple will finally end AT&T exclusivity. Apple's image has taken a beating over AT&T service and support. The world's best smartphone shouldn't be stuck on the world's worst network. I think Apple will change this.
- Apple market share will continue to increase. Apple users are generally happy users, and Apple users tend to be evangelical about their experiences. In both the U.S., and around the globe, I expect Apple to increase share of laptops, desktops, iPhones and following on that, OS share.
- Apple will move more services to the 'cloud'. MobileMe is certainly there, iWork looks like it is heading that direction as well. Microsoft and Google have ambitious cloud-based designs, so it's an easy prediction, and a likely outcome.
- Most predictions will be wrong. There's something about predicting the future. Things take unexpected turns and don't come out exactly as planned. The film '2001' is really dated, and 'Space 1999', well, it looks pretty silly today. My favorite bad prediction? The GM produced film [YouTube Video link] done for the 1939 World's Fair that predicted the sixties. My, what a miss.
- The iPod classic will be no more. By September 2010 the iPod touch will have a max capacity of 128GB, making the iPod classic look archaic and redundant. The iPod lineup will solely consist of 'iPod touch' and 'iPod' – the former 'iPod nano' that maxes out at 32GB.
- The iSlate is announced in January, followed by a mid-year product launch. The iSlate will make the iPhone look 2005. It will have multi-touch on front and back of the device.
- Sometime during the year there will be an interesting anecdote about Steve Jobs showing the iSlate to a famous industrial designer (no, not Johnny Ive) this past December whom Jobs then attempted to call a cab for when the designer was leaving Jobs' "modest" home. The industrial designer will tell how Jobs, the most creative tech genius on the planet, had trouble calling a cab from his home phone.
- Apple (AAPL) stock will hit $300 a share and the stock will do a 2-for-1 split.
- The iPhone will be the #1 smartphone in the world by a wide margin by December 2010. Blackberry will be #2, and the Google Phone will be a distant third. Palm isn't even a blip on the radar.
- 'The iSlate will bomb.' Or so will say numerous tech CEOs who will bemoan its 'limited appeal'. They will all be wrong. And though the iSlate won't kill it until 2011, the Kindle will be handed its hat at the door in 2010.
- Apple will partner with Visa and Mastercard for turning your iPhone into a swipe credit card using the 4th gen iPhone's RFID chip.
- iLife 2010 will replace iDVD with 'iLP'. iLP will allow users to easily created iTunes LP albums which they can instantly upload to MobileMe for download onto their friends and families new AppleTVs.
- The new AppleTV will have the cable companies quaking in their pants. Steve Jobs wants to do for the broadcast industry what he did for the music, movie, mobile, and publishing industries.
- 32" LED Cinema Display.
- iPhone: Two more US carriers, one of them Verizon. OLED screen and new industrial design that takes lessons from the iSlate. iPhone OS 4.0. Expect to see a multi-touch surface on the iPhone that is not part of the screen.
- iTunes Store: another late-year redesign to help facilitate making app search easier. Tabbed browsing. Apps top 200,000.
I think we'll finally see the iTablet this year, but it'll be much closer to an iPhone or a Kindle than a traditional tablet computer, with complete App Store integration and a relatively limited UI. The iPhone will finally be released to multiple carriers, T-Mobile first among them. And Apple will focus on cloud services -- they'll host your music and documents online whenever you want them, accessible from all your Apple devices and/or Apple software.
What, those aren't out-on-a-limb enough for you? The Mac Pro will get a major update, possibly even a rebranding. The Apple TV will start running App Store apps. And the iPod touch will finally get a camera.
Victor Agreda, Jr.
Apparently the tablet is a forgone conclusion, so I'll just say that the tablet is just the beginning... I predict that Apple's tablet move will nearly cement its reign in the digital home of tomorrow. Apple will begin partnering with companies such as LG, KitchenAid and others to bring integration into the kitchen, the spare room, etc. The tablet ecosystem and 3rd-party markets will soon resemble the iPod ecosystems from just a few years ago. Remember the iPod dock with built-in toilet paper dispenser? Prepare yourself for a mirror with enough transparency so you can shave AND read your iTablet at the same time.
Apple will also spend 2010 getting into the cloud like never before. iWork, iTunes and iLife will be the first to get online application, further hooks and functionality. But at WWDC Apple will announce 10.7 and some "really amazing" features that leverage the power of the internet with the power of their OS. Online backups? Yes, and probably something new and a little bit innovative to deal with what is now at least a decade for many of us with digital cameras... You didn't think iPhoto's crappy behavior when confronted by huge libraries would go on forever, did you?
Speaking of data management, depending on which winds the wireless ones blow, Apple may tie ever more services from app makers to its own cloudy ambitions. Look for some ad-fueled functionality to be provided free to tablet and iPhone users, and for announcements regarding iPhone on other networks... Plus look for some needed upgrades to the iPhone OS itself. Apple isn't dumb enough to ignore the jailbreak community and many of the awesome, time-saving tweaks found there. PogoPlank is one example and Stacks is another. Why can't I see the weather without unlocking my phone? Fixing things like this will put an end to some of the "Droid Does" nonsense.