Focus on consumer products
Apple killed the Xserve
, but bolstered the consumer product lineup by introducing a new Apple TV
, one which runs iOS -- although Apple never mentions this to consumers. This opens up the idea of apps on Apple TV in 2011. We'll just have to see when (or if) this happens! In any event, the $99 price point made the Apple TV more competitive with offerings from Roku and Boxee, not to mention established living room players like the Microsoft. Still, the introduction has had issues
. Not all media companies agreed to offer rentals on Apple TV
, thus we're starting to see more fragmentation in media distribution (as opposed to the iTunes Music Store, which carries almost every label).
A new iPod nano
was introduced, spawning a cottage industry of wristbands
. The previous nanos were not as friendly to the wrist, apparently. Also, the nano is running
a flavor of iOS
an OS that hackers are still trying to jailbreak
. Will the nano ever run third-party apps? Maybe 2011 is the year.
The iPod touch
saw a front-facing camera for FaceTime action, 3-axis gyro, Apple's custom A4 chip and Retina Display but little else. Apple's increasing use of the A4 chip is a stealth story from 2010 we feel will play out even more in the coming years as they ramp up production and expand the lineup.
The new MacBook Air
is aimed squarely at consumers, with the cheapest model entering the fray at a tempting $999. As a sexy consumer notebook, the Air has finally come into its own and will likely continue to make inroads in the sub-notebook market as prices drop and speeds increase.
And while we still don't know
what the North Carolina datacenter
will do, exactly, we feel it will be integral to Apple's consumer offerings. We'll keep a close eye on this one in 2011.
App Store economy
The App Store economy is only going to grow in 2011, as Apple's 10.7 announcement included the Mac App Store
. It'll be interesting to see what restrictions, successes and conundrums evolve from this attempt.
The iOS app economy meant a number of high-profile deals went down in 2010. To us, some of the bigger ones were the DeNA/Ngmoco
buyouts, the Zynga/Newtoy
acquisition, and Disney/Tapulous
acquisition. Lots of other companies were absorbed or emboldened by the App Store overall. Then again, some developers found there was not gold in them thar hills, but perhaps a modest income in line with a good product and proper marketing. In other words: the App Store is a real business and requires real business skills to succeed. We think the days of one-hit success stories are likely over.
made more news than one would ever imagine about a game where you sling birds (perfectly capable of flight otherwise) at pigs. We expect to see a 5.7 percent rise in Angry Birds reporting in 2011.
I mentioned the 4.2 update, but if you recall, iOS 4 in itself was a big deal
. Finally iOS users who were able to upgrade their devices with custom wallpapers, backgrounds and do more useful things like access a unified inbox and multitask with apps.
The iOS update also meant developers had to add new features (like multitasking support) to their apps. We're still seeing some older apps getting those updates.
iOS 4.2 came along and added iOS 4 features to the iPad
, then added AirPrint
. The OS is still evolving, and products (like printers) are still being introduced to take advantage of the new wireless services. We'll track down some AirPlay-compatible docks at CES if we can.
There's still no Flash support in iOS, and we don't expect to see it any time soon.
Not everything Apple did was a resounding success this year.
iOS 4 on older hardware. Either your device was capable of upgrading to iOS 4, or it could only access a few features or (until 4.2) it performed poorly. Our own Chris Rawson detailed his experience with iOS 4 on his 3G
. It was not pretty. iOS 4.2 seems to have helped
, while now a distant memory, was the first time in recent history Apple has had to call a press conference
as a response to media and consumer tales of woe. Typically the company issues a kb article or press release or says nothing
. But this issue of signal precipitously dropping when the phone was held a certain way (and Steve Jobs' own flippant responses
to it) made for a PR disaster. Apple got in front of the message eventually, offering free cases to anyone who wanted them -- for a while. Now the free cases are done, but an iOS update appears to have diminished the effect (or its reporting) and the iPhone 4 is selling like crazy
iTunes 10 heralded Ping as a social network within iTunes
. For about an hour it seemed to have Facebook integration, which was yanked
. This seriously diminished usefulness for some, but for others the fact that you couldn't "like" music that you had ripped from CD but was in the iTunes Store was a bigger issue. Several weird features and lack of useful features in Ping hampered its use beyond the novelty of the early adopters. Later integration with Twitter
has done little to increase the use of Ping, but we don't know how big a failure it has been in numbers. Based on anecdotal evidence
, however, it has seen little pickup by the general populace, who prefer to gab on Twitter, Facebook or privately via email.
We'll add FaceTime
to the stumbles in 2010, if only for the fact that video calling has been available on desktops for a while now, and video calls have been a concept for ages. Still, Apple's implementation is a good one, but FaceTime was hampered by being limited to Wi-Fi. The desktop beta was later released with a bit of a security issue
, and we still haven't seen the open standard released for others to use.
Looking back, looking ahead
2010 was undoubtedly a huge year for Apple with the introduction of a completely new product line and substantial upgrades to existing ones. iOS has taken huge leaps since its introduction a mere three years ago, and we think we're only seeing the beginning. We'll probably see an update to hardware this year, with a new iPad almost a lock. iPhone on Verizon? Quite possibly. A seven-inch iPad? Don't bet your life on it.
On the Mac side there's plenty to look forward to in 2011, with Lion and the Mac App Store on the horizon. We have little idea what the hardware side will bring, but the Mac Pro and iMac form factors have been with us for a while now.
Will the Apple TV or even the nano get apps? Will iWork on disc go the way of the dodo?
No matter what happens we know this: Apple will continue to innovate and provide incredibly well designed gear and software for consumers as it has for over three decades.