When it comes to expectations, every year seems to be a watershed year for Apple. 2017 was the year of iPhone X and a fragmented list of iterative improvements to Mac, iPad, Watch, et al, but not exactly a tsunami of innovation.
2018 will be different. Apple is poised to reap the benefits of new tax laws, repatriate profits, shed some debt, introduce new versions of macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and launch more products with improvements over last year. What else?
First: More & More
Apple might be the company with a long history of market disruptions, but it’s also the company intent upon milking as much of those changes as possible with iterative– not disruptive– progress. To that end it’s easy to come up with a list of where Apple can improve on the current product line.
iPhone – Face ID in the top two iPhone tiers, but also a redesign of iPhone SE to handle wireless charging; along with the expected camera improvements, perhaps Touch ID within a display (although it seems Apple has moved on and so have most iPhone X customers).
iPad Pro – This is the Apple I like; dirt cheap with the vanilla 9.7-inch iPad, but with pro features on iPad Pro. 2018 should see the advent of Face ID, more thinner lighter faster, of course, but an iPad with more slender bezels, and a better keyboard.
Watch Series 4 – It’s no-brainer time in Cupertino as Watch continues to roll but with more exercise and health options? Yes. Watch owns the heart rate monitor segment of wearables, but what’s next? EKG? Blood oxygen monitor? The Holy Grail to monitor blood glucose levels? If so, AAPL will top a billion dollars.
Mac – For a company that prides itself on breakthrough technology advancements, the Mac seems to sit low on the priority list. The Mac mini needs an upgrade. Mac Pro needs to show up in 2018. True differentiation between MacBook and MacBook Pro models would be a plus.
Don’t expect massive changes to Apple TV, Apple Services, or major adjustments to either of the company’s App Stores; one successful, the other far less so. Otherwise, Apple will remain a cash manufacturing machine this year, HomePod will make a splash, Siri will bring improvements, and we’ll get updated versions of various and sundry operating systems with a preview at WWDC 2018.
Otherwise, my prediction is same old, same old.
Second: New & Newer
This is more of a Hope Chest than a list of predictions– things Apple can do, should do, but may not be inclined to do because nobody at Apple has that precious combination of whip, matched with that vision thing, and the position and personal power to pull it off.
That was Steve Jobs’ job and used appropriately it propelled Apple into the 21st century with a staggering array of goodwill, a growing list of market disrupting products, and combined set the stage for Tim Cook to milk the company of excess profits, greater shareholder value, but no vision on what the company could and should be doing next.
MacTouch – Think iPad Pro meets MacBook; a detachable keyboard and screen combo that is ARM-based Mac in the keyboard and A-Series Hulk in the iPad-based screen. Only Apple can do the best of both worlds, but that hasn’t stopped many tablet notebook hybrid PC manufacturers from trying and reap some mindshare in the process.
iCloud – Yes, it’s too late to buy Dropbox, but iCloud is the cloud industry’s stupid cousin. It remains agonizingly slow to sync files between devices, and the entry-level 5GB is just too anemic (hasn’t done anything to stifle Dropbox and its 2GB free tier). Hey, Apple, make it easier to share photos from Photos with family members at full resolution.
Apple Privacy – This is long overdue. Apple has the money and technical chops to insulate its iCloud customers– even with a paid tier after the free tier– with better security options via a virtual private network. I would sign on in a heartbeat. But the real story here is one Apple does not tell. Privacy and Security. Instead, Apple slow walks the privacy options in Safari while collecting billions in profits from Google to keep it as Safari’s default search engine. I’m getting mixed signals, Apple. Are you for privacy or for
cash from Google?
Competition – I want to see Apple more competitive instead of the Slow Walk Wonder Boy. Why isn’t Apple Music eating Spotify’s lunch? Why isn’t Apple TV priced in a way to grab customers who instead lap up Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, Chromecast, et al? Stop selling old products (Mac mini, Mac Pro, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPad mini) as if they are new. Make them new. Siri is considered the stupidest of the talking artificial intelligent characters. Why? It’s not like you can’t afford to make Siri useful, Apple.
I’m sure you have a few ideas of your own where Apple could improve itself in 2018. Yes, the company seems to have nailed down stock price, revenue and profits, plus a billion or so customers– which might explain why the company’s executives think they can do no wrong– but competition is intense, Apple fatigue is a thing, and customers are catching on to Apple’s watered down efforts to be competitive, to focus on customer privacy, and to ship the best of whatever it ships in whatever product category.
Yep, 2018 will be a watershed year for Apple. Again.