Predictions for Apple in 2012

| Editorial

1. The MacBook Air. Apple is on to something here. MacBook Air (MBA) sales are zooming, with over 800 percent year/year growth and even cannibalizing iPad sales according to some reports. I know Apple is noticing. The MBA has finally taken off because Apple did what it should have done long ago: lowered the price, added a second USB port, added a lighted keyboard, expanded the max memory to 4 GB and dumped the Core 2 Duo, which was a so-so CPU. The MBA will continue to evolve and set the standard for Apple notebooks.

2. Along those lines, I predict the Apple patent for a thinner optical drive will only be used for the 17-inch MacBook Pro (MBP). The 13-inch MacBook Pro will die and be replaced by the MBA. The 15-inch MBP will lose its optical drive as well and become the “15-inch MacBook Air” and the 17-inch MBP will keep its name and the optical drive, but be a lot thinner than it is now.

3. Apple HDTV. I believe Apple will get into the HDTV market in a small way for people who don’t want to sign up for cable or satellite TV. It’ll be a modest, 32 to 40 inch LED/LCD, non-3D, work on Wi-Fi, have really good speakers that synthesize a virtual Dolby 5.1 system, and work nicely in a bedroom, den, or small apartment. It’ll be a really cool boutique, camel-nose-under-the-tent device, make no dent in the overall market, but instead will be a trial balloon and test market device to see if it makes any money. Accordingly, Apple will reduce the price of the current Apple TV to US$79 to increase sales, better compete with Roku, and reduce buyer’s remorse if they later buy an Apple HDTV. Timing: autumn of 2012 leading to Christmas season.

4. The Mac Pro will be discontinued. Apple is all into the consumer market, and there’s just no future for this aging, heavy, awkward Macintosh. But that’s not to say the Mac mini can’t gain a lot of CPU oomph. I’m expecting the Mac mini to grow a little and get a lot more powerful.

5. iPad 3 HD. This is a no-brainer. We know the iPad 3 is coming in the spring with a 2048 x 1536 pixel display and a better camera. Apple’s previous conceit was that you don’t need a good camera in a tablet. That idea has been repudiated by the competition and the iOS developers. I expect a 4 MP (rear) camera. I also expect the base iPad 2 will continue to be sold, after the iPad 3 launch, for $299 all through 2012. Call it the “3GS” effect.

6. Lion Tweaks. Apple will introduce a heavily revised version of Lion, 10.7.x at WWDC 2012, and perhaps it will affectionately be called Lion Cub. It’ll be the result of some better thinking about how to handle the movement to iOS integration, installation, gestures, versioning, and sandboxing. It’ll defuse the brewing irritations and make the developers and users a lot happier.

Lion crystal ball

7. Patent litigation will get smoothed over. Apple has been trying to slam dunk those who seem to have infringed on Apple’s iOS patents. The goal was to drive Android into oblivion. I think two things will happen in 2012. First, Apple will realize that it cannot destroy Android and secondly, the business of trying to block infringing devices from retail sales in many countries is an exhausting and futile endeavor, especially as the competition returns the favor and tries to block Apple sales. As a result, Apple will instead work to quietly achieve a detente, extract a revenue stream from these infringements and then focus on innovation, manufacturing techniques (and its corresponding economic leverage) and licensing revenues in order to maintain supremacy in the tablet market.

8. Second generation Thunderbolt (TB) devices. A birdie told me that his company is not happy with the first generation Thunderbolt specifications and they’ll wait for Apple’s next generation TB. In 2012, with the hard disk supply line improving, SSD prices dropping as a result of the temporary interruption, and a next generation TB interface, I expect to see a flood of TB accessories. Unfortunately, the MBA’s we bought in the summer of 2011 may not be able to take full advantage of them.

9. iPhone 5. Another no-brainer. We’ll finally see an iPhone 5 with a larger display, 4G/LTE capability, and many Siri(ous) integrations and improvements. Apple will work out the security details with the carriers and merchants, and we’ll see Near Field Communications (NFC) and the Apple digital wallet. For example, the GPS system will identify your location at a restaurant that supports digital wallet payments, and all you’ll have to do is tell Siri to pay your check with a 20 percent tip. Done. Grab a mint on the way out.

10. Changes in iBookstore/Newsstand. I think 2012 will be the year that the rest of the industry figures out how to undermine Apple’s original (modest) success in the sale of magazines and newspapers on the iPad. Microsoft seems to think there’s an opportunity there. Despite unfavorable initial reviews, the Kindle Fire will only get better and put more pressure on Apple’s iPad. If Apple isn’t careful, the iPad could fall out of favor as the primary news/newspaper/magazine/book reader. Lower iPad 2 pricing going forward in parallel with the new iPad 3 and better terms for traditional print publishers will have to happen.

As an aside, as a virtual 11th prediction, I suggest that Apple will be less abrasive in 2012.  The company will back away from controversial, seemingly harsh moves, guided by the steady hand of Tim Cook.  While Steve Jobs couldn’t wait to secure his legacy and finish the work he started, the current executive team will focus on the essentials: security, customer trust, and rolling out new technologies with care in order to elevate customer satisfaction and confidence. That will help counter the copycats.

 

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23 Comments Leave Your Own

geoduck

1-2, I think/hope you are dead on. I’ve been pushing off my own 15” MBP purchase hoping they will have an air version. Lighter, same 4-core i7, more ports. That would be sweet.
3 I just don’t see any way Apple can succeed in the TV arena. They might try something like you suggest but little more. The idea of getting all your content over the net is cool but cable companies have made it clear that they will not stand for any threat to their cable TV cash cow. They’ll use fees and throttling as needed to choke the life out of it.
4 Sadly I think you’re right on this one too. It’s been very clear that Apple was turning its back on the pro market.
6 Yes. All the Lion goodness without the mess.

MyRightEye

“The Mac Pro will be discontinued”

ROTFLMAO… Oh my… ok… oh gosh…

Ross Edwards

I dunno, recent news regarding video card updates, CPU updates, and the like seem fairly suggestive that the Mac Pro has at least one more swan song left in it, likely in Q1 when the new Xeons hit (and before Q2 when the Ivy Bridge iMacs and MBPs refresh).  Right now you can’t buy a new Mac Pro and an Apple monitor to use it with, because no Thunderbolt.  That situation, at the very least, will be remedied.  After that, I can’t imagine a refresh in less than two more full years, if ever, and that’s assuming the product line doesn’t merge with the Mac Mini or something like you suggest.  As it is, the 2011 Minis can deliver performance on the level of three-year-old Mac Pros… and that’s a hell of a depreciation rate.

geoduck

As it is, the 2011 Minis can deliver performance on the level of three-year-old Mac Pros? and that?s a hell of a depreciation rate.

A very good point. For all but the absolute top end must-render-the-grand-canyon-full-scale-and-feed-it-to-the-superbowl-mega-screen-in-real-time crowd a Mini or a Mini with a bit of boost would do just fine. Imagine a Mini with dual four core processors and a Mini case sitting under it with a couple of 2Tb drives. Less wattage, less cost, less footprint, and more processing power.

zewazir

On Mac Portables: Apple has already done away with the MacBook line - so the focus on the Air line is apparent, However, the MBP line is also still going strong, with the majority of sales going to the 15”, so I do not see them limiting the MBP line to just the 17” model.  After all, they had the MBP 13” and the MacBook 13”.  They may do away with the MBP 13” = then again, they may not.  The 15” MBP, I belive, will be around for another several iterations, while there is also the strong possibility of a 15” Air.  That would give us 11, 13 and 15” MBA, and 13, 15 and 17” MBP - still simple, but lots of choice.

Bregalad

Whether a Mac mini can replace a Mac Pro depends on what you’re doing with it. Where I work it would take two iMacs or three Mac minis with Thunderbolt hard drives to replace the single 2008 model Mac Pro that hosts many of our virtual machines. Multiple users means that real processor cores and RAM are needed, not to mention lots of fast hard disk storage, something a mini can’t do without an external Thunderbolt enclosure and requires either surgery or an external drive to get enough storage into the iMacs.

Having to maintain and backup a single machine for all users is also less work than having multiple VM hosts.

While ours is definitely a special case, there are many special cases out there. It seems to me that Apple could easily hang onto their group of pro users with minimal updates to the Mac Pro going forward. Simply slapping the latest Intel motherboard and processor into the current box can’t involve much cost. The potential loss of both hardware and software revenue seems greater to me, but I don’t have access to internal Apple figures.

Terrin

I agree with most of what you say. I, however,  think Apple will be more aggressive about LED Televisions though. Pretty much every market Apple has entered, people have asked why? People said, why is Apple trying to get in the phone market. Why is Apple trying to get into the retail market. Apple has proven it can have success in those markets. Originally in the phone market, gaining one percent of the market was going to be considered a success. Apple’s retail store now make more money per square foot than any other retail store.

If Apple can leverage the strength of the app store and integrate it to televisions, utilizing technologies like Air Play and Siri, the TV is a know brainer. Apple is all about integrated systems. An iOS based TV makes perfect sense. I see Apple offering a limited selection of TVs, and also continuing the current Apple TV project, but I see Apple going up to 52 inches and partnering with somebody like Sharp.

I also think Apple would be better served to extract licensing fees from its competitors aka Microsoft style rather than try to kill Android. Oracle has a better chance of putting the hurt to Android. I wouldn’t’ be surprised if Jobs talked Ellison into having Oracle buy Java just for that purpose.

MacFrogger

geoduck said:

I?ve been pushing off my own 15? MBP purchase hoping they will have an air version. Lighter, same 4-core i7, more ports. That would be sweet.

Agreed!  My 15” MBP turned 4 this summer and I’m waiting for a 15” Air.

All is good in the world when the ducks and frogs are in agreement!

skipaq

Agree with most of the predictions that John makes; but I’m with Terrin on Apple’s TV initiatives. As for the legal predictions; I hope that is the way it turns out. I just have no expertise in law to make a prediction. Regarding the softer Apple of the future; I think we have already seen some of that in recent decisions and announcements.

Switch

Makes sense for them to push out one final Mac Pro. The only thing keeping it alive is the slow adoption of ThunderBolt in third-party accessories, so that all the promised extensibility of an iMac is practically useless.

Right now, there’s still demand from game/graphic designers, video editors, etc. (historically long-term Apple supporters) that can’t be satisfied by a current iMac/Mac Mini. But a year or two from now and ThunderBolt will (hopefully) be much more functional and processors/graphic cards on iMacs would cover the needs of most of those users.

Lancashire-Witch

I’ve wanted an iPad since the launch; but I haven’t bought one. Now I’m thinking an 11-inch MBA would be the right choice.

Now that Apple is a global company I can’t see how an Apple HDTV makes a lot of sense.  In the rest of the world the ATV is (still) little more than an iTunes extension. I think Apple should do more to promote AirPlay, otherwise it will begin to look like printing from an iOS device - All promise and poor delivery.

Can’t wait for Lion to catch up with Snow Leopard.

xmattingly

4. The Mac Pro will be discontinued.

Nope, nope, nope. Apple is not going to abandon the Mac Pro in the near future; certainly not in the next year. Granted that their focus is largely on the consumer market, but like it or not they still develop tools for, and support content creators, for profit.

Given our lessened dependency on SCSI and optical drives as of late, I propose that it makes more sense than ever for that fabled “mini tower” that pundits have been talking up for the past decade to finally emerge, and possibly become the successor to the Pro. If they removed an optical drive bay, maybe a couple of hard drive bays, two SCSI slots and added some modern ports (Thunderbolt, and possibly HDMI), you could have a box that was roughly half the size of the current Pro and juxtaposed between the newest trends in technology and content creators’ never-ending need for trucks.

Summing up, I do not believe the Mac Pro will come to an abrupt end, and will most likely evolve.

Lancashire-Witch

The Apple TV  gets a mention in this article about 2012 predictions in a UK newspaper.

geoduck

This morning I ran across this prediction
http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20111214PD204.html
A new MacBook Pro in 2012 with double the screen resolution.

cb50dc

6. I hope so. I’m not going near Lion until it gets through rehab.

Herbal.Ed

And what about the iMac????

Herbal.Ed

I seriously doubt Apple will produce a TV per se. Why would they? Why deal with the hassle of different screen sizes, and with a product that people keep for years before upgrading?

What I think Apple will do is do major innovation/upgrade to Apple TV that includes Seri and interfaces with your TV(s).

Terrin

By that logic, Apple should stop producing Macs. People keep them for years (I still use my ten year old G4 Power Mac) and Apple has to produce different screen sizes.


Moreover, companies like Samsung, Sony, and Google with Smart Apps are looking to displace the need for computer purchases all together. If all you do is surf the Internet and read email, do you need a computer, if your TV will do that?

Further, there are a lot of people who will buy a Apple TV just because Apple builds it.

I seriously doubt Apple will produce a TV per se. Why would they? Why deal with the hassle of different screen sizes, and with a product that people keep for years before upgrading?

What I think Apple will do is do major innovation/upgrade to Apple TV that includes Seri and interfaces with your TV(s).

Macguy since you were in diapers

I’m amazed at how easily these supposed blog techies roll off the words “the Mac Pro will be discontinued”. The Mac Pro user is a professional on whose back Apple built it’s empire. We use PCI expansion cards for Video Editing, Music Recording and Sound, Graphics, Photography, the arts and many other things. If Apple made this tremendous blunder, it would be a shame for them, because a mac mini is not going to accomplish what we need, and many pro’s would sadly migrate to windows and a more flexible environment.

Steve S

If the Mac Pro were discontinued…then Mac will have killed of an important Mac User base….and it will just become a mass-media tool with no heavy hitting applications like Final Cut, Adobe and or any Autodesk products….That would not be a prudent move on Apples part…but it is a still only a 5-10% user market for this product…hopefully the right decisions will prevail! Long Live the Mac Pro!
PS.
It would be cool if they came up with an even cooler design for the tower

osxbeta

If the Mac Pro will be dropped, APPLE will drop an entire philosophy and heritage, thus will loose reputation and customers.

The first thing affected will be the coolness: APPLE continuously looses on geek terrain and gains on consumer mass terrain - where’s the coolness in that?

I don’t now any body anymore who owns APPLE products because they are (technically) better or advanced, they always are satisfied with chicness.

But not me…

Herbal.Ed

You make the (mis)assumption that Apple would not replace the Mac Pro with something else even more cool ..... and highly functional.

I happily and proudly admit to being an Apple fanboy, but first and foremost I buy and use Apple products for what to me is superior, cutting-edge performance.

Don’t assume that all Apple fans are slaves to the cool factor. I love BMWs also, but I wouldn’t buy one if it only “looked” good. For me, what makes Apple so great is both the aesthetic style and the highly-functional engineering. That was the genius of Jobs. Actually it’s just common sense; the genius was being able to execute that on a multi-billion dollar level.

osxbeta

Dear Herbal.Ed,

thanks for involving.

I would never want to talk down any sort of APPLE fanboy or the cult about it, nor the dominance of the design aspect (i really love it). That fan devotion is not only pleasant and symapthic but also part of the APPLE-culture and make that phenomenon so much fun.

But i definitely feel left behind with my view that APPLE computers are interesting especially because of OS-X, since still OS-X is the only UNIX desktop OS around offering options to run on it major league and professional grade applications such as ADOBE CS and the like.

I’m also addicted to LINUX, but retreated more and more to use it for servers only, since commercial applications for LINUX i could use for my daily professional work are way to rare and open source substitutes seldom are on par (i easily could start a discussion on that one, including the poisoning effect of illegaly downloaded commercial by John & Jane Doe, basically ruining any serious open source initiative etc.).

And if i crosslink the removal of the XSERVE from APPLE’s portfolio with the highly discouraging development the LION-Server took recently (dude what a mess) together with the rumours about the MacPro phasing out, it dawns on me that soon the ultimate APPLE-offering will be an iPad on steroids.

Which of course would be stellar for the iPad-usecase but a nightmare for anyone wanting to *work* with OS-X (and please, why actually NOT in the enterprise, Mr. Cook?).

And there we are:

Exceptional design and genuine fan culture are not enough to keep the concept alive on the long, if

1) you can’t claim to have the better “system”, and that should emphasize *Operating* System over *Eco*-System (iTunes, AppStore)

2) you get more and more locked in into iTunes and AppStore, making using Macs predominantly a shopping experience and turning any Apple-User into iSheep in the end.

Instead you need a superiour innovative OS and reintegrate “think different” into the concept (but i guess that idea has died long ago anyway…), and THEN chances are that Macs are cool again…

Let me know if i missed a point, i’d really like to err…

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