2016 is drawing to a close and not a minute too soon. Let’s hope we don’t have anything like it for many years to come. From terrorism to government upheavals to a boring and mostly technological malaise, 2016 is good riddance.
Every year tech pundits outline what they expect to happen in the coming year. That’s OK because wishful thinking is akin to hope, and the world could use more of that. Even better, at this time next year nobody goes back to check the pundit’s track record for prognostication accuracy or bothers to keep score. We do the same thing with politicians which is why they keep their jobs.
Here’s what I expect from Apple in 2017.
Expected And Surprised
Apple was once the technology company with a few surprises each year, but as co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs’ health waned, so did the frequency of Apple’s famed ‘one more thing.’ His dents in the universe diminished over the years, and Apple became rich, fat, sassy, and seemingly incapable of surprise.
That said, the opposite of surprise is expected, or predictable, and Apple has been on a predictable roll in recent years. For example, expect a WWDC 2017 conference for developers in late spring. That’s when Apple props up beta versions of macOS Bakersfield and iOS 11, along with tvOS and watchOS upgrades. Ho and hum, right? It’s still point, click, or touch.
Sometime in the spring Apple will upgrade the iPad and I hope they clean up the line a bit; make every iPad a Pro with a Pencil option, remove the anemic storage options, keep the Wi-Fi and cell data models, and add a new color or two. Honestly, I expect micro-bezels, too, so that won’t be a surprise.
Sometime in the spring Apple will upgrade the iMac, but the timing depends upon Intel getting it’s act together Inside and coming up with notably faster, power-sipping CPUs. Much of the responsibility for Apple’s very public issues with Mac upgrades can be laid at the doorstep to Intel’s headquarters. What will not surprise me at all is the death of the Mac mini, the Mac Pro, and the MacBook Air, and some price cuts on the MacBook, and we’re already seeing discounts on the well criticized MacBook Pro.
Later in 2017 Apple will launch iOS 11 with the iPhone 7s. Some think Apple might skip the traditional tick tock iPhone S and go right to iPhone 8, as 2017 is the iPhone’s 10th anniversary. Maybe. Maybe not. But, either way, it won’t be a surprise. Honestly, I expect micro-bezels on the new iPhones, too; which means the case is mostly a sheet of glass on the front; smaller case, more screen. Perhaps thinner, lighter, faster and with a better set of cameras (iPhone 7 Plus has three cameras), but again, no surprise, right? Oh, and inside will be a new and faster ARM-based CPU, probably called A-Series ‘Hurricane’ or perhaps ‘Blitzkrieg’ but something to remember.
What about surprises?
When was the last surprise to come out of One Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA? Falling revenue and profits and stock price, come to mind. But not the iPhone or iPad itself. They were expected surprises, hence not really surprises at all. What about Watch? Again, no surprise as smartwatches were predicted, then delivered, and, as usual, Apple was later to another technology party but became the star and walked away with the industry segments profits and mindshare.
Some of the surprises on my list from 2016 were not good surprises. No upgrades for Mac Pro or Mac mini (say goodbye to both in 2017). No Apple branded, standalone, high resolution 4k or 5k Retina display. No Apple Car. The MacBook Air still lives, the inexpensive zombie Mac that everyone knows is dead, but only Apple knows when. AirPods were something of a surprise because they are so cool, but the country’s largest headphone maker means we should have expected something cool anyway.
Surprises for 2017 require some knowledge of Apple’s past, an understanding of the company’s trials and tribulations in recent years, the fact that the Mac is mostly passé in Jony Ive’s design studios, and that Steve Jobs is still dead.
Allow me to devote a single paragraph to Apple’s expectations for 2017. Goodbye, Mac mini and Mac Pro. Hello, iPhone 8 with faster CPU, OLED screen, and micro-bezels; and welcome iPad Pro models. Hello stagnant revenue and profits. What about Apple Glasses, Apple Car, an Amazon Echo-like Apple TV with Siri, and the touchscreen Mac Pad?
Wait’ll next year’s next year because by then you’ll have forgotten this year’s next year’s predictions.