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Apple Watch: 2013 Predictions
Tuesday, 2013 January 1 - 7:22 pm
Time for my annual Apple predictions.

First, as always, let's review how I did last year.

1. New form factor for the iPhone 5: NO. Pretty much correct. Apple did lengthen the screen slightly but there was no curved screen or tapered design. Full point.

2. Apple builds television sets: YES. Nope. Zero points. It's coming soon, though, I think.

3. Seven-inch iPad: NO. Well, although it's true that Apple didn't make cheaper a seven-inch iPad, they did make an eight-inch iPad at $329. I was mostly right about the iPad 3, but didn't think the mini was in the cards. Zero points.

4. Desktop line revamp: NO. Correct here. The Mac Pro continues chugging along mostly unchanged, and though there's a new taper-edged iMac design, it's still mostly the same iMac. Full point.

5. All laptops are MacBook Airs: YES. Not quite. They're clearly moving in this direction by removing the optical drives from the Retina MacBook Pro models and going all-SSD, but they haven't yet killed off the existing models. Half point here.

6. iPhone digital wallet: YES. Not really. There's the Passbook app which seems to be the start of something, but there's no retail integration like I thought there'd be. Zero points. I'm still hopeful about this... see predictions below. Zero points.

7. Death of the iPod Classic: YES. Unbelievably, the iPod classic with its spinning 160GB hard drive still hangs around. Zero points.

8. Wearable computing: YES. I think I was too early with this prediction; there are rumors of an iWatch coming up in 2013. Zero points.

9. Apple home automation: YES. Zero points. Nothing in this category, not even a rumor.

10. Apple stock price target: $550. I'm pretty close here. Apple zoomed up to to $700 before falling back to about $510, but as of this writing it's around $530 and gaining momentum. I believe that there was a lot of tax-related selling at the end of the year, due to fears that capital gains tax rates were going to rise. Now those sellers will be looking to buy back in. Full point.

Just 3.5 out of 10... ugh, pretty miserable.

Okay, on to 2013!

1. Apple builds television sets: YES. When Tim Cook shows up on a news program saying TV is an area of intense interest to Apple, it means something is up. I think some kind of content distribution deal is key to this, or perhaps a partnership with a cable company... it'll be far more than just an internet-connected TV. I think the set-top box is a key piece of this, more so than actual physical TVs.

2. iPhone digital wallet with NFC: YES. When the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 shows up, I think NFC is finally going to be included, and it'll be part of the digital wallet strategy that I still believe is in the cards. The selling point will be not just convenience, but security: credit card security is broken, and there's a real problem that needs solving here. This may in fact be the key selling point for the next device. Oh, and I still think the form factor won't change much.

3. iPad mini with Retina display: YES. This one seems like a no-brainer, but I'm actually teetering on this one. The iPad mini is still a pretty good device without a Retina display, and price may be more of a concern for Apple on this particular device. But Apple also really wants to be an all-Retina company; by some time this year, there should be enough panel availability from companies not named Samsung to make that a reality.

4. Convertible iPad/MacBook: NO. The convertible tablet/laptop idea makes very little sense to me unless you're running a schizophrenic operating system like Windows 8, which wants a touch screen for its "Metro" interface (I know, it's not called "Metro" any more) but a traditional keyboard/trackpad for its classic desktop interface. I think Apple believes that tablets should be tablets and laptops should be laptops, and that each should have its own software interface optimized for its function.

5. Redesigned iPad: NO. There'll be the usual spec bumps and weight reductions, but I don't think there'll be anything major. So where does Apple go with the iPad if not to glue a keyboard onto it? I think the big push will be in iOS software and content, more than radical new hardware. The tablet is rapidly becoming a mature product category; Apple will focus its innovation efforts on new kinds of devices. That includes the Apple TV as well as a couple of other things...

6. iCar: YES. I'm not saying Apple will build cars; I'm saying that integrating iOS devices into cars seems like an inevitability. (See: this post.) There's already Siri integration coming to a number of different automobiles; at some point some car manufacturer will just let you use an iPad as your in-dash navigation and entertainment solution. Or, Apple will have a custom iOS-based solution that auto manufacturers will adopt, similar to how Ford has adopted Microsoft Sync.

7. Apple iWatch: YES. There are a couple of interesting things leading me towards this prediction: one, that they redesigned the iPod nano such that it's no longer wearable as a watch; and two, there are all kinds of rumors and rumblings from the supply chain about this. I think it won't be a full-fledged phone in its own right; a key thing about an iWatch is that people won't want to worry about having to plug it in to charge every few hours. I'm thinking it's much more likely to be an iPhone/iPod BlueTooth accessory device.

8. Mac Pro and Server redesign: YES. Tim Cook has all but promised the pro market that this is coming for 2013. I think we'll see something smaller, and that Apple will be pushing Thunderbolt expansion to take the place of PCI card expansion and loads of drive bays. I think Apple's main focus will be to address video professionals, so it wouldn't surprise me to see a Thunderbolt-based video input device show up as well.

9. Death of the iPod Classic: NO. I give up. iPod Classic forever.

10. AAPL stock price target: $800. This is a big jump from the current $530 price but I think that's justified. Like I said, I think there were a lot of tax-related sales at the end of last year, and that's done. Now I think analysts are basing their predictions on existing product categories and failing to account for new markets that Apple will be opening up. Oh, and there's also the fact that Apple is grotesquely undervalued at current prices. $800 may even be on the low side.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

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