2011 Predictions

With the release of the Verizon and Apple’s super calendar Q4 2010 Financial results behind us, how does the rest of the 2011 look in terms of Apple news.

One new feature that we may see is the Apple video event. Since Apple now has video streaming for events working, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Apple use this new feature to do more product events that don’t require the media to fly in person to Cupertino.

February:

OS X Lion first Beta is released. OS X Lion new features released by introductory movies on apple.com. If Lion is really going to be released some time this summer at WWDC as expected, then a beta version of the OS with more features being revealed needs to happen this spring.  And Apple won’t want to distract from iOS 5 preview in March. A big part of Lion is going to be the cloud functionality, expect to see demoed a host of new cloud services added to MobileMe. Lion gains features and capabilities related to the cloud. This could be Apple’s first video only media event.

March:

New iPad with a FaceTime camera. Price points will stay the same.  Some rumor mongering that the iPad will gain a Retina Display, but one powerful rumor voice (Daring Fireball)  is denying this. New multi-core processor seems to be a given, and additional RAM is a strong possibility. Apple might continue to sell the base older model iPad for $399, further putting price pressure on would be tablet competitors. Based on Jobs’ comments, a 7 inch iPad is total pipedream. The rumored additional video and SD Card slots could make the new iPad 2 a very powerful machine.

April:

1. MacBook Pros Refresh. MacBooks get Flash RAM storage as standard but retain DVD-R-RW drives. Expect Apple to start pushing using SD Cards to add additional storage to MacBook Pro. Look for that technology and pricing to drop as iPad and MacBook Pro users add storage thru this method. Newest Intel SandyBridge technology is virtual certainty. The vunerable White MacBook gets a further price drops and remains using conventional hard drives, but it also gets a SD Card Slot. 17 inch MacBook Pro gets USB 3.0.

2. iOS 5.0 – new release demonstrated which is unified for both iPad and iPhone. Features/changes in iOS 5, best guesses are;

  • New Notification system: Apple hired the Palm Web OS GUI guru who designed the Web OS notification system. This maybe iOS weakest GUI element right now. It’s just not very elegant. Notified for jailbroken iPhones is a good starting point.
  • New front screen called Dashboard. This Widget info screen for iPad and a status screen for iPhone containing dashboard type data that can be chosen and placed in order by the user; weather, recent text messages, music being streamed info, calendar events, recent emails, etc.. It functions in front of the lock screen. You swipe to the right to login.  Lock Info for jailbroken iPhones is pretty good place to draw ideas from.
  • Next round of enterprise security features added. Increasing strength of iPhone as a corporate choice. Verizon iPhone opens up a lot of new corporations as potential iPhone adopters. Apple is almost on par with RIM and has a big lead on Android right now in this space.
  • Improved Calendar application – probably the weakest of the Contacts/Email/Calendar “Outlook” trinity on the iPhone. iCal on the iPad is probably the best out of the 3 platforms – Mac, iPad, iPhone. Gizmodo/Lifehacker featured recently an iCal replacement called Week Calendar
  • iOS updates over the cloud. Ability to do a cloud restore of iPhone over WiFi via MobileMe.

June/July:

1. WWDC- Huge developer conference. Have to wonder if Apple might find a larger location than the Moscone center to host a huge variety of OS X Lion sessions and iOS 5 sessions. Apple will demo final versions of both OS Lion and iOS 5. Lion for sale immediately. iO5 will be released later in 3 weeks to existing iOS machines. Huge test of whether Apple can deliver an iOS update the same summer as a big Mac OS X release.

2. At WWDC, new iPhones will be announced. Same overall form factor but guts are all updated, same points available in a combined GSM (support for “4G” HSPA+)/CDMA version giving Apple more efficient production capability, while the current iPhone 4 slides down to $99 or even $49. Features will include a new processor which like the iPad is exclusive to Apple, updated camera, Near Field Technology added (capability for NF technology built into iOS 5). In addition, iPhone 4 Pro will also be released, both CDMA and GSM, it will retail for $299 at 16 MB but will have a 4 inch larger screen. Version for Verizon should have LTE capability. This seems earlier than expected, but after finally getting on Verizon Apple will not want to surrender the premium LTE smartphone space back to Android devices. One last thing, look for T-Mobile to get the updated iPhone if Apple has been able to secure sufficient production capability for AT&T and Verizon. Sprint with their focus on WiMax is not a factor.

August:

The usual big media event setting the stage for the holiday  iPod lineup. Now this media event is losing its’ sizzle so Apple amps it up with some big time updates.

1. iPod event- two classes of iPod Touch (3.5 inch and 4inch) just like the iPhone. Updated guts, etc. Maximum storage is increased to 128 GB.

2. iPod Nano gets a huge update and gets a new name iWatch. iWatch resembles the Nano, but with a number of features.

  • A persistent low energy clock application that allows for the “watch” to always be on.
  • Bluetooth for wireless headphones/earbud. Device will still retain the mini 3.5 audio jack.
  • Bluetooth syncing with your iPhone. iWatch will give you prompts messages about incoming phone calls, text messages, upcoming calendar alarms.
  • Voice command application integrated.

3. AppleTV gains a host of new native applications, a huge library of Airplay equipped applications running on either a Mac or an iOS device, and finally an SDK/App Store for AppleTV is announced. Focus of this App Store will be interactive gaming titles controlled by an iOS device. Finally, AppleTV gets upgraded guts like every other iOS device.

4. It finally happens, iTunes Streaming and online access to your entire Music Library from any number of Mac, Windows, and iOS devices.

October:

A back to the Mac event focusing on the new iMac enclosure and Mac Mini update. Both desktops get new interface LightPeak (super fast fiber optic interface) to reduce cable clutter and vastly increase bandwidth for the desktops. iMac gets a whole new enclosure that is thinner and more dramatic. Mac Mini gets improved guts. Both devices move OS and core applications to Flash RAM drives to provide a huge boost in performance.

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