Apple's Next Product Category?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by cambookpro, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    Generally, it's accepted that modern Apple history can be boiled down to five major product launches:

    1998 - iMac
    2001 - iPod
    2007 - iPhone
    2010 - iPad
    2015 - Apple Watch

    Of course, you could throw in products like the iPod mini (2004), Apple TV (2007), MacBook Air (2008), but I don't they count as 'major' as, apart from the Apple TV, they were all part of a family of products already introduced - and even then, the Apple TV was only a 'hobby' in Apple's words. They may have had a greater effect - for example, I personally think the iPod mini was the iPod which actually made the masses buy one and think 'wow' - but they weren't the beginning.

    It remains to be seen whether the Apple Watch will be a success or remain a hobby for Apple, but they've been pushing it hard enough to suggest it will play a major part in the company for the years to come.

    It seems like there has always been an overriding rumour about Apple's next major product category. The iPhone seemed to have been mentioned for years and years beforehand; before the 'iSlate' launch, in Mossberg's words, the 'last time there was [that] much excitement about a tablet, it has some commandments written on it'; and, of course, in recent history 'iWatch' concepts seemed to dominate Apple blogs.

    So, what do you think is next? I'm sure the Apple Watch will be honed and refined over the next few years, and I'm sure iPhones and iPads and MacBooks will get thinner, and I'm sure Jony Ive will talk over some banal scenes and make them seem majestic during a keynote, but looking four or five years into the future, what do you see Apple releasing?

    At the moment, it seems people are focussed on the Apple Car. While I'm sure Apple could build a great car, I don't think they will. Cars are very expensive products to buy, and I can't see them being targeted to the masses in the way the Watch or iPhones are, which are cheap enough for many people to afford one if they wish. Cars, also, are complicated to manufacture, need dedicated showrooms and aren't upgradeable in the same way a $200 subsidised phone is. I'm not saying it won't happen, but I find it unlikely that MacRumors will be dominated by Apple Car unboxings in 2020...

    The other major rumour seems to be an Apple TV set. This, I think, is more likely - TVs are still consumer electronics and seem almost a natural continuation of Apple's lineup. However, TVs are still kept by most households for a good five years at least, and I'm not sure how Apple feel about that. Plus, there's the complication of PAL/NTSC and all those kind of protocols. I think it's much more like that we'll see a beefier Apple TV at some point, with Siri integration, HDMI passthrough like the Xbox One, integrated TV guide, etc. Does that count as a new product category? I'm not sure. But I think a ~$300 box that hooks up to your TV and acts as a hub is a much better idea that a ~$3,000 TV set which does most of the same, but in a thin, unibody shell.

    Of course, it's entirely possible that the next 'big thing' is something which hasn't been rumoured. More wearable tech? Google Glass still seems too geeky to be taken seriously, maybe as technology gets smaller, it can be integrated into a pair of normal glasses? Maybe more integrated technology around the home, like smart tables? Maybe Apple's next big breakthrough will be in software, or at least hardware not aimed at consumers, like a mobile network?

    I'm not too sure, but think it would be interesting to see what others thought.

    TL;DR: In your opinion, what will Apple's next major product category be?
  2. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    I would like to see Apple come up with something in the home security area. All of it being able to be operated from our devices whether we are at home or away. I know there would be some big competition to go against in that market, but I think Apple could think of something smarter than is already available. Just a thought?
  3. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Perhaps something to do with 3D printing, such as a meal making machine.
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I have to say who knows - When the rumors started coming out a couple of years ago about the watch, I was surprised. So called experts have been saying the TV is something on apple's radar, though nothing has come of that. There's also those apple cars driving around California. Anything is possible at this stage.
  5. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I think the real action going forward is in services. For the sake of this discussion, let's call it "Distributed Robotics." Siri, Cortana, and company will only get smarter and more connected to our lives. They are the "Computer" of Star Trek - voice interface, no physical manifestation. They won't be droids like R2-D2.

    iCloud (and the Google and Microsoft equivalents) so far have been the "free" giveaway, the glue used to bind us to the hardware (or advertising) platform. But going forward, the Internet of Things is clearly going to involve many hardware makers operating under common protocols; protocols cheap enough to license that the hardware will support multiple, competing systems. It's already happening with cars and home automation products - Apple's signaled that it's more important to be in every car than to sell 10% of the world's cars. At some point we'll reach a tipping point, where the existing market shares of the dominant players will be effectively locked in, like Coke and Pepsi.

    For now, the money for Apple has been in the hardware, and human interface hardware will be part of the picture for the foreseeable future - it just may not be the central focus.

    The challenge for Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, et. al. will be to make the humanoid personalities of their cloud services (Siri, Cortana...), and the level of automated personalization they bring to our lives, so compelling that we don't want to "fire" the servant. Ever.

    "Hey Siri... tea, Earl Gray, hot"

    "Close the pod bay doors, Siri."

    "Siri you can drive my car"

    It'll be the world of Her, though, of course, not one where the disembodied voice becomes unexpectedly self-aware and independent of humans in a matter of weeks (but what heterosexual guy wouldn't want Siri to sound a bit more like Scarlett Johansson?). That particular scenario has been around since, nearly, the days of Jules Verne. I think we know how to anticipate and avoid that trap.

    We're never going to have the kind of humanoid robots described by Asimov. No ASIMO (is Honda paying Asimov's estate for that??). We carry the human interface device (smart phone, smart watch, smart glasses, implant....) and it connects to whatever device or process we need to control, executes whatever task we desire. We don't need a do-it-all machine that would require its own airline seat (or overweight luggage fees).

    At some point, paying for cloud services won't be a matter of buying more dumb storage space or bandwidth, or paying for the use of a word processor... we'll be paying a "salary" to our personal assistant, an assistant so competent and well-attuned to our needs, so pervasive and personable, that we will never, ever want to fire her/him/it and go through the disruption of training a successor.
  6. turtle777 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2004
    It's pretty clear what's in the making: TV

    Not a TV set, but revolutionizing the content distribution model.

    After that, the car.

  7. kdarling macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 46 years ago
    Well, Apple said they had to make the Watch because people were spending too much time looking at their iPhone.

    I foresee the same thing happening with people spending too much time looking at their Watch. Everyone around them will be annoyed, as the Watch wearer will look like they're bored peering at their watch all the time.

    So it follows that the next big Apple product will be... the Apple Ring!

    It'll have a gemstone that lights up to indicate that a very important notification has been pushed from the iPhone to your Watch.

    That way, you'll know when you REALLY need to look at your Watch.

    It's the never ending circle of life, basically.

  8. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    It would make more sense if it were an earring. It's already right where you can hear it, and you don't have to raise your hand to look at anything because there's nothing to see. It just talks to you, or emits clicks and chirps like Flipper.

    If you wonder about the technology, think about hearing aids, which currently can fit into a person's ear canal.
  9. iFitzgerald macrumors regular


    Jul 20, 2011
    Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal
    I think anything car related might still be a few years off. My bet is something related to TV. Something with a lot more features and power than the current Apple TV and maybe a screen.

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