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Apple Watch: 2015 Predictions
Thursday, 2015 January 1 - 12:42 pm
Happy New Year everyone. Here's my annual list of Apple predictions.

First, let's look back on my 2014 predictions.

1. Apple TV: YES. Wow: still no major TV update. Sigh. Zero points.

2. Apple iWatch: YES. Yep! Though it won't be released until sometime this spring, we did see it and it's everything we imagined. Full point.

3. iPad Pro: NO. Yes. The rumor hasn't died, though, so I may put this prediction back on the list for 2015. Full point.

4. iPad Nano/iPhone Pro: NO. Huh, I was wrong here. Apple put out the 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus and it's been doing well, so well that Samsung profits at the high end have cratered. Zero points.

5. Apple 4K Monitor: YES. Kind of... there's a new iMac with a 5K Retina display, and it's gorgeous. The entire computer is available with a better price than some 4K monitors. There must have been some conscious decision to put this out instead of a standalone monitor: perhaps they're trying to lock people in to the ecosystem? Half point.

6. Major Laptop/Desktop Redesign: NO. Full point.

7. Major Retail Announcement for iBeacons: NO. Full point, though iBeacons have been notably (if slowly) making their way into the retail space.

8. Major Social Networking Announcement for iBeacons: YES. I find it odd that this hasn't happened.

9. Apple/Samsung Truce: YES. Full point here. The patent litigation has wound down, and Samsung is still a major Apple supplier.

10. Year-end Apple Stock Price: $675. I think I was pretty accurate in predicting the stock behavior overall. But Apple ended up doing better than I expected, with a closing share price of $110.38 (equivalent to $772.66 after the surprising 7-1 split this year), so I'll only give myself half a point here.

Overall: 6.0 out of 10. I regret that I didn't put my digital wallet prediction back on the 2014 list, as Apple did announce Apple Pay with a great deal of fanfare.

Here are the 2015 predictions:

1. Apple TV: YES. For God's sake, yes. I have an inkling that the Apple TV will also be the HomeKit hub for integrating home-control appliances into the network. But mainly, Apple needs to beef up their living room presence, and 2015 seems the year to do it. Netflix, Amazon, and HBO are on the cusp of becoming the dominant players in TV, and Apple needs to find a way to be a part of it. Glasses-free 3D? Gesture- or voice-based control? Who knows. But something needs to come out.

2. iPad Pro: NO. I stand by my previous assertion that a 12" iPad doesn't make sense from a size/weight perspective.

3. Apple 5K Monitor: YES. Along with a Mac Pro refresh, I think we'll see an accompanying 5K monitor with the same specs as the Retina iMac's display.

4. Retina MacBook Air: YES. This has been on the rumor list for a long time, and I'm a bit surprised we haven't seen it yet.While Apple seems intent on keeping the MacBook Air at an entry-level price point, the line is in need of an update or a price drop. Perhaps Apple is waiting on Intel's new CPU lineup, which has been delayed. I think we'll see an $1199 12" Retina model, and the existing 11" model will hang around for a while at $899. The distinction between the "Air" line and the "Pro" line should diminish over time.

5. Apple Pen: NO. There's been an intriguing patent for a "smart pen" device which records things written to an ordinary pad of paper, or a whiteboard. It uses a variety of accelerometers and other sensors to determine the movement of the pen, and transmits the data to a nearby iPad over Bluetooth. I think it's an interesting idea, but we have to remember that Apple comes up with thousands of interesting ideas that never come to market. I'd be happy to be wrong about this one, though.

6. Apple Pay becomes wildly successful: YES. Some pundits are downplaying the success of Apple Pay, citing retailer reluctance and misleading usage statistics. But the fact is, Apple Pay is already the dominant NFC payment system. Now add in the millions of users who will upgrade from their iPhone 5/5C/5S this year, add in millions of users who will buy an Apple Watch, and suddenly you've doubled or tripled the available user base. Meanwhile banks are actively pushing the convenience and safety of Apple Pay with their own advertising; and, retailers will be forced to upgrade their credit card readers to comply with chip-and-PIN standards. It's a perfect storm.

7. Apple Maps announcements: YES. I think you'll see multiple major announcements related to mapping, probably around the time of the WWDC in June. First, I think you'll be able to get to Apple Maps through a web browser. This has always seemed like a missing element to me, as sometimes I'm on my work PC and I'd like to be able to search for directions there (and then wirelessly transmit that information to my phone). Second, I think we'll get a much-improved database of locations (stores, restaurants, etc). Third, I think we'll start to see indoor mapping in a handful of places that have installed iBeacons, like shopping malls. Fourth, I think we'll see FlyOver maps in many more locations; it's the only thing that Apple has that comes close to competing with Google's excellent street view mapping. I think the car is still a battleground for mobile devices... Apple needs to be a bigger player in mapping to win it.

8. Apple Watch sales: 25 million. It's extremely hard to predict the success of the Apple Watch when we still don't know the price points. But I suspect Apple will heavily promote the device, especially to younger audiences, and it'll be pushed as an accessory with every iPhone sale. Meanwhile, you'll see celebrities wearing them, and some developer somewhere will figure out the killer app for it.

9. Major acquisition: NO. Plenty of people still look to Netflix and Tivo as potential Apple takeover targets, but I don't think that's in the cards. The $3B acquisition of Beats was a big surprise, but I suspect there were financial aspects to the deal that made it unique (i.e., the fact that the acquisition could be financed with off-shore funds). I think Apple will be quiet on the takeover front for a while.

10. 2015 closing stock price: $135. There's been a bit of resistance around the $120 range, and that'll take a while to break. After a big run-up in 2014, the stock is due for a breather for a while. It'll hang around its current price for a few months, or maybe dip into the low $100s. That might be the time to buy, if you're looking to get in. When numbers start rolling in from Apple Pay, Apple Watch, and the iPhone 7 in the fall, look for a spike in the price.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

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