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Apple Watch: 2011 Predictions
Saturday, 2011 January 1 - 6:58 pm
Happy New Year, everyone. It's time for my annual rundown of Apple predictions.

First, let's look back at my 2010 predictions.

1. iSlate, YES. It was called the iPad, but it did indeed arrive and it has been a phenomenal success. Full point.

2. Subscription AppleTV, YES. Nope; Apple did roll out a new AppleTV box with an all-rental model, but it wasn't the cable-killing subscription TV model I thought it would be. Zero points.

3. iPhone on Verizon, NO. I was right on this for 2010. Full point.

4. New iPhone mapping application, YES. Apple still hasn't revealed what it's doing with PlaceBase. Zero points.

5. A new content production capability in iWork or iLife, YES. Sort of. Apple enabled publishing in ePub format with iWork, but it doesn't provide the rich immersive production capability I thought it might. Half a point.

6. Revamped MacBook Air, YES. Yes. Apple revamped the Air and brought out an 11" model. Full point.

7. Desktop line revamp, NO. Pretty much correct. Apple introduced a smaller Mac mini, but otherwise the line has remained intact. Full point.

8. Blu-Ray, YES. Nope. Apple is still banking on online streaming for movies; in fact, it seems that Apple sees removable media as a whole to be a dead-end. Zero points.

9. End of the iPod classic, YES. Nope. It's still hanging around. It didn't get updated, but it didn't die either. Zero points.

10. Stock price target: $240. Apple's stock price is a staggering $322 per share as of today. I don't think I was close enough to qualify for a point.

Just 4.5 out of 10; not very good.

Here are the 2011 predictions. I won't bother predicting the iPad 2 because it seems too obvious.

1. iPhone on Verizon, YES. It seems pretty much inevitable, and it's likely to happen sooner rather than later... probably this month. The Verizon-iPad deal that came late in 2010 was almost certainly a precursor to an iPhone deal. I expect we'll see a slightly revamped iPhone 4 with CDMA capabilities first; a brand new iPhone 5 may come later in the year.

2. Home FaceTime camera for AppleTV, YES. Apple wants to get FaceTime everywhere; it's the major weapon that Apple has against the phone carriers. People sit in front of their TVs a lot; it makes sense to be able to answer your FaceTime calls there. The technology already exists and would be easy to implement; Apple just needs to get it done.

3. A swift shift towards the Mac App Store, YES. Apple clearly loves the curated experience that the App Store provides. Not only does it provide a seamless centralized retail experience for users, it also provides a great defense against malware. Smaller developers will love having better exposure to customers; larger developers will have no choice but to get on board. The App Store will be a huge success; Microsoft will quickly try to copy it.

4. Death of the iPod classic, YES. Surely this thing can't hang around forever. A 128GB iPod Touch seems like an inevitability too.

5. Desktop line revamp, NO. Even though the desktop designs are getting long in the tooth, I don't think Apple sees a pressing need to change things up. Apple clearly is concentrating on mobile and portable computing first. The consumer desktop market is looking like a dead end. The desktops won't go away entirely; many users (like me) still like the power and stability of a central home system. But portables are the future and Apple's cash cow.

6. A push towards 3-D, NO. Despite this being a seemingly ripe market for Apple, there are several problems. One, Apple probably does not want to be in the business of making TVs. Two, the technology is still immature. Apple has recently filed for patents regarding glasses-free 3-D television, but I don't think we'll see this in 2011.

7. Your iTunes library on the internet, YES. There are two major things pushing for this: one, the massive data center in North Carolina has to be there for something; and two, it's getting increasingly cumbersome trying to sync multiple iOS devices with multiple computers, especially if those computers are laptops with limited disk storage. The iPhone and iPad are screaming for cloud-based solutions.

8. Expansion of iPhone as a digital wallet, YES. The iPhone could someday replace your car keys, house keys, credit cards, and grocery store discount cards. Apple has been getting some patents in these areas. It wouldn't surprise me if Apple announced deals with major retailers to start accepting payments via iPhone, using a new near-field wireless device at the point of sale. I've been trying to think of where Apple might make a new hardware push this year, and I think this may be one possibility. Today's point-of-sale systems are fragmented, insecure, and dependent on ancient technologies. It's exactly the type of situation Apple feasts on.

9. A push towards home automation, YES. This is the other new area that seems Apple could jump into. Current home automation solutions are cumbersome and don't have much customer acceptance. But if Apple provided a turnkey solution for controlling your lights, locks, alarms, and appliances from your iPhone and iPad... well, that seems to fit right in with the Apple ecosystem.

10. Apple stock price target: $450. Apple is still looking like an unbeatable stock. It kept going up despite an economic downturn, and now the economy is recovering. Meanwhile, Apple still has overwhelming dominance in the portable music market; iPhone sales will jump when Verizon offers it; the iPad has blown the doors off the tablet computer market; MacBook sales are booming; and, I have no doubt that Apple's hardware R&D geniuses are cooking up something brand new for this year. $450 seems easily achievable.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

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