The first part of the year is always an exciting time for the Apple faithful. For one, there’s Apple’s quarterly results which typically indicate how many smash hit products there were over the Christmas quarter.
But more importantly is this nervous energy that comes from the tech media about potential new products. This year, those rumours are swirling around two devices: Apple TV and the ‘iWatch’. I want to address each in turn.
Apple TV is still considered a hobby product for Apple. Even though it’s growing quickly (last quarter Apple shipped over two million of the little black devices) it’s not in the same league as Apple’s other products. That doesn’t mean, however, that Apple isn’t investing in the area.
During the recent earnings call Tim Cook noted that the company “sold more last quarter than we did ever before” of the Apple TV, and then went on to say that he believes “that there is a lot Apple can contribute to this space”, without providing any more specifics.
Recent Apple TV system updates point to a few things that could be coming soon; a specific Apple TV SDK for developers to start creating software for the device, and changes in the UI that let users customise the layout of the home app screen. The last software update also provided the ability for the Apple TV to connect to Bluetooth keyboards.
Lastly, there are rumours of Apple turning the Apple TV into a gaming platform.
To me this makes a lot of sense; there are already thousands of developers who have created games for iOS and it wouldn’t be a big stretch to port these to the Apple TV interface. Pair it with a good Bluetooth game controller and Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo should be very worried.
The origins of this rumour are harder to pin down but I suspect it’s got something to do with the recently released Pebble watch.
The Pebble watch rose to fame thanks to a very successful Kickstarter campaign (crowd-sourced fundraising) where the creators raised over US$10 million to develop a smart, Bluetooth-compatible watch that is designed to act as an extension to your smartphone.
Pebble shipped the watch in mid- February and the reception so far has been good, with most reviewers stating that the Pebble watch has lots of potential if the software improves.
Wearable tech is also something that Google is focusing on this year with the release of Google Glasses.
Josh Topolosky of website The Verge recently got a chance to use Google Glasses and said: “They are a completely new kind of computing device; wearable, designed to reduce distraction, created to allow you to capture and communicate in a way that is supposed to feel completely natural to the wearer. It’s the anti- smartphone, explicitly fashioned to blow apart our notions of how we interact with technology.”
Meanwhile bloggers keep finding clues and want to believe that Apple is also playing in the space.
But you have to wonder whether Apple could ever get serious about producing a watch; what can you do on a watch that you can’t do on a smartphone?
And like home phones and phone books, watches seem decidedly low- tech. Most of my friends (and I) don’t even bother wearing one.
It should be clear by now that an Apple TV and watch might still be a while away. So, what should you expect from Apple this year? Unfortunately, the answer is probably more of the same we saw last year; faster, lighter and more powerful computers, refreshed iPhones (possibly with a larger screen) and new iPads.
And maybe, just maybe, there might be ‘one more thing’..