Thursday, February 19, 2009

Apple And Mobile World Congress

No one really expected Apple to go all the way to Barcelona to introduce a new mobile device or update the iPhone. However, everything about smartphones at the MWC is about Apple. Over at Onxo, we discussed what Apple's competitors were doing to catch up the one-two punch of iPhone-iTunes.

Just about every touch device was compared to the iPhone. Just about every app store was given a shakedown (even though none except Android Marketplace is operational) relative to the iTunes app store.

It's was always Apple this. iPhone that.

Here's my question: where is Apple? Seriously, right? This time last year, we were given an updated 16GB iPhone. The major update was the unibody Macbooks in October and sprinkled with the 17" Macbook Pro at Macworld.

I'm tempted to say we're are going to get a slew of updates from Apple in March through October (usually the last month of updates from Apple) but in this economic condition, I don't know if that'll happen. And rumor after rumor, we continue to be disappointed week after week with no new announcements.

There are indications that Apple is prepping for new products - memory chips are drying up all over the world because Apple is taking them off the market. New iPhone models? Probably. Apple's answer to the netbook? Perhaps.

So what are we looking at from Apple?
  • Desktops - iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac Mini. We all expected this in January but there is truth to what Apple said about not doing Macworld - they can now introduce products at a time of their choosing. Well, they sure are taking their time. However, I doubt the iMac are just getting any old updates. I'm guessing something's up. The same can be said for the Mac Mini. As for the Mac Pro, I honestly have speculation whatsoever. I'm gonna pass on that one.
  • Apple TV - hobby is what Apple will continue to call it until it takes off. If it takes off. Don't be surprised if it get folded into the Mac Mini or the iMac. Again, no clue anyway as to what the next update, hardware or software, is going to be like.
  • Macbooks - selling extremely well. If not for the Macbooks, Mac sales would be much worse in this environment. I don't see an update any time soon. However, expect the new battery technology in the 17" Macbook Pro to trickle down to the 15" and Air models later this year. Macbooks changes make take longer, possibly 2010. To Onxo, the new battery is one of the better mobile changes from Apple.
  • iPhone - I don't do rumors but I do read them eagerly, hoping they all come true. But we know that is almost never the case. Multi-core anyone? LED? iPhone HD? 32GB models? I'm looking for looking for longer battery life, hoping, wishing for longer battery life. My experience with the G1 has made me think twice about the next iPhone unless its battery life goes back up to the level of the original iPhone, at the very least.
  • iPhone OS - this is more important than any change in hardware. iPhone's hardware is like to change once a year. Why is the OS more important than the hardware? Because everyone will like use similar chips (unless the rumors of Apple design its own is true) and other market components. It has been innovations with iPhone's OS that put it head, shoulders, and body above everyone else. It'll be innovation that keep the iPhone on top.
  • iPods - We have the nano, touch, and classic. I don't know where the nano will go from here. It was thin, then fat, and now thin again. In that time, it gained the ability to play video. No idea. The iPod Touch is easier to figure. It's the iPhone without the phone functions. I wouldn't mind if it had the same body as the iPhone with longer battery life. The new updated iPod Touch has a faster chip and, to many, that has made a difference with some tasks. My iPhone and, now, my iPod Touch has always felt snappier than my G1 and Blackberries so I've got nothing to complain about speed. We might see a 64GB iPod Touch. That's almost a lock. And that brings me to the iPod Classic. I don't know if we'll see any change and Apple probably had a couple of meetings about what to do with it. There's a reason they called it the "classic". As soon as the iPod Touch has storage comparable to the Classic, that's when Apple will kill it off. However, it's not inconceivable that Apple will turn the Classic into a portable media hub of sort.
  • Gaming - this is the main reason why I don't think the hardware will change much this year. The iPhone is way more powerful than the DS or PSP. But I'm not in the camp that believes the iPhone is a threat to Nintendo or Sony. Someday, but not today. But Apple can and should do more to move iPhone gaming in new innovative directions. Then maybe the iPhone and iPod Touch can be mentioned in the same breath as the DSi or PSP.
  • Netbook or iTablet. the iPhone isn't Apple's answer to the netbook. But I'm sure Apple will not offer a $400 or even a $500 netbook. Why shoot yourself in the foot when Macbooks are selling so well. Why cut sacrifice revenue and market to maintain marketshare? I'm looking at a $700-$800 tablet with the same OS as the iPhone and iPod Touch. Perhaps two models. And there is a very important thing that it won't do that netbooks are doing now: serve as replacements for regular PCs and laptops.
There are things I wish Apple to produce but they're wishful thinking on my part. Dual-boot system and letting Macs run apps for the iPhone. I'll get into this at a later date.

My speculations and assumptions are based on past Apple actions. Still, I'm hopeful we'll see exciting innovations from Apple. After all, it's competitors are doing their best to catch up and Apple execs have said they'll innovate their way out of the recession.

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