Eleven Apple Predictions for 2011

by Chris Seibold Dec 15, 2010

'Tis the season for speculation about what the next year will bring for Apple fans. Usually, the lists go five or ten deep, but in the spirit of 2011, here at Apple Matters you get ten percent more speculation for no extra cost!

11. MobileMe (neé iTools) gets much better

You remember iTools, right? The free precursor to MobileMe that gave you a tiny bit of web space and an Mac.com email address if you bought System 9? Then you also remember when Apple changed the name to MobileMe and started charging people to use it.

When it was iTools and free it was pretty good, but when Apple started charging people became more critical of the service. In truth, MobileMe hasbn't been all that great. There are free options everywhere and some of them are better than MobileMe.

In 2011 that will change! Mark this one down as 100% because Steve Jobs said so.

10. Mac software gets much cheaper, developers make a lot more money

Apple isn't stupid, when the company discovers a hit in one product line it tries to copy the successful elements in other market segments. Apple is giving the Mac the App store treatment. It is easy to predict what happens once the Mac App store goes live. Initial pricing confusion, price drops, a plethora of new apps for your Mac and a lot of very happy developers.

9. Microsoft goes Full Stalker on Apple

Microsoft has been emulatinf Apple to such a level that is has gone from the sincerest form of flattery to John Hinckley Jr./Travis Bickle level stuff. To cite the weirdest example:

Apple Stores have campers when a new phone comes out. Microsoft Stores don't. Microsoft wants to be like Apple, therefore they need lines. Solution? Give away Miley Cyrus tickets. It worked, turns out people are willing to camp out for Miley Cyrus tickets. Sure, it would be more impressive if people lined up for a Microsoft product (they used to) but if you're Steve Ballmer you take what you can get.

8. AppleTV gains some serious traction

Despite all the problems with AppleTV, the little thing is growing more popular. Even though it's selling better, it's hard to see the AppleTV being a replacement for your cable provider. The common thinking is that Apple needs to ink some deals for more content.

The truth is that all the content in the world isn't going to make the AppleTV a smash hit if you can get better programming from your cable provider. What will make AppleTV a huge success is when you can get stuff on your AppleTV that you can't get from your cable provider. It won't happen until late in the year (Apple is over worked as it is) but an App store for the Apple TV seems very likely late next year.

7. The second generation iPad rocks

There are people who say they're waiting for gen. 2 Apple kits because by then Apple will have had a chance to work out the bugs.  Granted, you see a marked improvement from generation 1 to generation 2 with a lot of Apple products. Everyone expects FaceTime and cameras on the next iPad, but it is easy to imagine that there will be much more.

By now Apple has realized that the iPad isn't just a huge iPhone. The screen size makes it a different beast altogether. Expect Apple to realize this next year and do some innovative stuff with everyone's favorite gadget you don't have to have.  

6. Macs continue to gain market share

Windows 7 is a really nice OS, so you might wonder why Mac market share isn't dropping faster than the shirts at Mardi Gras. The reason is fairly straight forward. Apple is selling a complete solution and people trust the brand. Sure, you can buy a much cheaper windows laptop, but everything is so confusing. Which version of Windows do you need? What is the right graphics chip? Is that processor enough?

Much easier to pony up for a Mac laptop when you know that the machine will be good enough. The price point was prohibitive in the olden days, but dropping a cool $1200 on a laptop that looks great and that you know will work is an easy thing to do for many people.

5. Subsidized iPads

Remember when the iPhone first came out and it cost $600? The reason the iPhone was a shot in the wallet wasn't because the first iPhone cost more than the current iPhone to produce, but rather because Apple didn't fully comprehend the attraction of subsidized phones.

Look at it this way, when the iPhone set you back a cool six hundred you had to drop eighty bucks a month for service and sign a two year contract. When the iPhone set you back two hundies the service cost was eighty bucks a month and you had to sign a two year contract. Which model do you think most consumers preferred?

The same thing is coming with the iPad. Sign a contract with the iPad and you'll be able to get one at a steep discount. Yeah, you'll end up paying more in the end but, hey, "free" iPad and all.

4. Apple Stock races past the $400 mark

What is the stupidest investment you ever made? Probably your first Apple purchase. It turns out that if you would have bought stock in Apple instead of one of the company's products you'd be way ahead monetarily. On the other hand you couldn't listen to that Brittney Spears mix you're so fond of on your first generation iPod.

You'll say the stock price is too high, but as high flying as Apple stock seems the fundamentals are there. A low P/E ratio and other arcane measures tell us that Apple still has room to grow.

4. Your e-mail to Steve Jobs won't get a terse reply

Steve Jobs doesn't use twitter because there is no need. He can post short messages all over the web just by sending out a short email.

3. A key Apple Executive leaves

Apple executives getting chased out is nothing new, but Apple execs getting lured away is. Some company is going to see Apple's continued success and realize that all the magic at Apple isn't in Steve Jobs. A smart company, will, at some point, back the money truck up and swipe one of Apple's key execs.

Recall that Timothy Cook ran Apple while Steve Jobs was out and Jon Ives is still there. Being under someone else's thumb, even if it is Steve Jobs rankles. For enough cash and power an Apple exec can be poached.

2. The white iPhone finally shows up

The difficulty with a little titanium white remains mystifying but sometime in 2011 the white iPhone will finally show up.

1. iPhone on Verzon is bigger than anyone imagined

There are folks that say that everyone who really wants an iPhone already has one. That isn't quite right. Everyone who wants an iPhone and values the phone over the carrier already has one. The number of people that value the iPhone over the carrier isn't as large as some imagine. There are substantial numbers of Verizon folks rolling around contract free not out of out some fiduciary responsibility but because they are waiting for an iPhone.

Rumor is that about three iPhones are sold for every Android phone sold at AT&T. If a similar ratio holds at Verizon once the big V gets the iPhone how huge will that be? How far will the lines stretch?




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