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Apple Watch: 2009 Predictions
Thursday, 2009 January 1 - 4:06 pm
My annual set of predictions regarding our favorite computer company.

First, let's see how I did last year.

1. Subnotebook, YES. One point. The MacBook Air was Apple's entry into the subnotebook category; a scaled-down, lightweight ultraportable. In a year that saw a boom in netbooks with 8-inch screens, the MacBook Air seems much more like a conventional laptop. But the MacBook Air was the culmination of the subnotebook speculation from last year.

2. Tablet, NO. One point. Apple still considers the iPhone and iPod Touch to be the "tablet" platform; a full-sized tablet computer is still impractical.

3. New Mac Mini, YES. No points. A new model is expected next week, but Apple went all through 2008 without any changes to this product.

4. New Mac Pro, YES. Half point. Apple put out a new Mac Pro with quad-core Xeon processors, but retained the old G5-era form factor.

5. Movie Rentals, YES. Full point. AppleTV is still a "hobby" for Apple, though.

6. Acquisition, NO. Full point. Apple is probably content to sit on its cash during this recession.

7. Dot Mac improvements, NO. Half point. Apple did switch its dot mac service to "Mobile Me", but it was intended as a push towards cloud computing (and a consumer version of Microsoft Exchange), not a push towards Web 2.0 stuff or user-customizable dynamic web hosting.

8. Social Networking, YES. Zero points. Apple stayed out of the social networking game, and probably just as well: Facebook looks like it's going to be the 800-pound gorilla in this game. Aside from MySpace, the other social networking platforms are barely a blip on the radar.

9. Blu-Ray, NO. Full point. Steve Jobs called Blu-Ray a "bag of hurt".

10. Stock price target, $275. Zero points. Needless to say, I did not foresee the effect of the credit crisis on Apple's stock. It's not that Apple is doing badly, but growth has certainly slowed and investors are spooked.

So, six points out of ten; a mediocre performance.

On to 2009:

1. Apple Netbook, NO. Jobs doesn't like this product category. To Apple, a netbook is either a watered-down laptop or an oversized iPhone, and either way, it doesn't fit with Apple's strategy.

2. Quad-core 17" MacBook Pro, YES. This just makes sense. Apple didn't talk about the 17" MacBook Pro when the new aluminum-block portables came out recently, and it seems highly likely that it was because Apple was waiting for the release of quad-core mobile processors from Intel. Look for this to come out in January.

3. iPhone nano, YES. This one is a tough call. On the one hand, I don't think Apple really wants to be in the business of making commodity, disposable phones a la Nokia. But on the other hand, I can see value in a very tiny phone that fits in the iPod/iTunes universe. Perhaps a wearable phone that's essentially invisible, like the iPod shuffle? (Hmm: one button to talk or hang up, and voice-activated dialing; it'd be like a Star Trek TNG communicator.) It would give Apple the opportunity to tap into an enormous market, addressing all the people who want "just a phone", not a camera or a GPS device or whatever.

4. End of the iPod Classic, YES. Look for a 64GB or 128GB iPod Touch to supplant the Classic at the top of the iPod food chain. The iPhone and iPod Touch are clearly the wave of the future when it comes to Apple's handheld units; the Classic now seems dated and under-featured (with capacity being its only desirable trait). The iPod nano and iPod shuffle will hang around, though.

5. Radically new Mac Mini, YES. I don't think Apple will simply put out a slightly-improved model with a faster processor and Nvidia 9400M graphics (though that would be good enough for me). I think Apple wants to make a splash in this product category, perhaps with an even smaller form factor. (Maybe they'll even leave off the optical drive?)

6. Cloud computing applications, YES. Apple is a proponent of HTML 5.0 and technologies that integrate web browsers and desktops. It seems plausible that Apple would want to take its iWork and iLife applications online, integrated with Mobile Me. It's kind of a stretch and Apple might not think the technology is mature enough yet... but given the mobile ecosystem that Apple is building with the iPhone, it seems like an intriguing possibility.

7. Blu-Ray, NO. Same reasons as last year. Lots of people think Jobs will get on board with it eventually, but I still think Apple sees the future in wireless and Internet-driven media, not physical disks.

8. AppleTV Expansion, YES. It's time for Apple to get more networks on board with AppleTV, pitching an a la carte online subscription model as a consumer alternative to cable TV monopolies. This is more of a wish than a realistic hope, but with Viacom's recent difficulties with Time Warner, some content producers may be eager to get on board with something like this.

9. Steve Jobs staying healthy, YES. I think the rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated.

10. Stock price target: $140. The stock will test a new low in January, but investors will start to see Apple as a very attractive buying opportunity as they anticipate a market recovery in late 2009.

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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Comments

Comment #1 from John C (Guest)
2009 Jan 2 - 8:53 am : #
Or perhaps he apple TV, and the Mac mini will start to share some features, or become the same thing

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