Technological advances do not arrive on mankind’s doorstep according to a calendar schedule. Instead, it arrives in fits and starts. The examples are many and varied and Apple has been at the forefront of more than its fair share.
Going back to before the Mac, there was Apple’s Lisa, and the Xerox Star even before that. Point and click graphic user interfaces didn’t hit the masses until 1994 with Windows. Smartphones and tablets existed long before Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Our tech gadgets are made of many components and advancements to each do not come to market according to a schedule, and re-packaging technology components into new products takes time and patience. So, what’s Apple’s next big thing?
Can You See Me, Now?
Here’s the future of the next few years as I see it. Thinner, lighter, more powerful Macs with higher resolution screens. The same would apply to Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and even Watch. It’s the nature of the industry that such iterative improvements be the norm after a major launch to create or improve a new product segment. Apple does that well.
Apple Car? I don’t think so but I could be surprised. Apple should have bought Tesla but that whole ‘roll your own’ attitude prevents the company from recognizing that it is well behind in a race it cannot win, despite a couple of hundred billion dollars in the bank. Instead of buying back stock and giving money to thankless shareholders, Apple could have bought Tesla and a large chunk of the television content industry.
Instead, we get AirPods.
Yes, they are typically Apple, but hardly catching the world on fire. That’s Samsung’s job.
The next big thing will be something you expect from Apple, something that fits into the ecosystem well, something that augments the current product line and services. Speaking of augment, Tim Cook himself says that’s a good technology category to look into and I agree. Google’s Glass failed because it didn’t do much and it looked all too geeky and Borg-like to benefit the wearer.
That brings me to Apple Glasses.
Think briefly of the advantages Apple’s current product line and ecosystem can bring to a pair of augmented reality glasses. What are the requirements and how will they fit into a device that doesn’t make you look like a member of the Borg collective? Glasses– a screen that doubles as glasses. Frames– something needs to hold the electronics; battery, Wi-Fi, projector, camera, microphones, et al. Initially, I expect Glasses to follow the same pattern as Watch which acts as an extension of the iPhone. Glasses, initially, may be tethered to iPhone but as technology continues to miniaturize, a standalone version will appear.
Glasses will be able to stream data onto the glasses’ lens, augmented reality style, to provide basic information that comes from apps on the iPhone– much as Watch has apps that were once tethered to the iPhone but now are resident on the Watch itself (though the device is not yet standalone). Augmented reality applications that make sense are Apple Maps, Calendar, Reminders, Weather, Sports Scores, and anything else that requires a quick glance.
That brings me to differences between Watch and Glasses. Glasses will have a camera to take video and photos, record audio, and thanks to a small speaker located near the ear, provide sound– from Siri, from iPhone, and from built-in applications. The trick to Glasses’ success will be how unobtrusive they must be. Glasses are often a fashion statement or a reflection of personality and taste, so expect Apple to have a variety of glasses frames available, and even an option for prescription lenses; lenses developed in concert with a major lens maker.
Apple Glasses fits securely into the Apple ecosystem as the next great thing; and, like Watch, Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, and iPod before it, will launch as a basic product that matures quickly into a game changer thanks to a series of new technology advancements in screens, cameras, memory, Apple’s own miniature CPUs, and battery life.
What do you think?