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Apple Predictions 2019
Wednesday, 2019 January 2 - 1:52 pm
HNY everyone. Here's my annual list of Apple predictions.

First, let's score my predictions from last year:
1. New Mac Pro and mini. Well, we finally got a new mini, and you can make it pretty powerful with its Thunderbolt expansion, but I don't think anyone would call it a Pro. Half point.

2. New MacBook... without a second USB port. Well, nope. We did get a new MacBook air instead, which hits almost all of the same feature points as the MacBook, and does include two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports. Zero points.

3. MacBook Pro adds an escape key to the touch bar. We got a new Pro but it retains the same touch bar. Zero points.

4. iPhone 8 forever. The iPhone 8 continues to sell, and it accounts for a pretty good portion of sales. Full point.

5. iPhone X forever. There's a new iPhone X, but they used the 'S' tag to distinguish it (as they did with previous models), so I guess the real test is what name comes out for the 2019 model. We did get a big-screen model (the unfortunately-named iPhone XS Max), plus a bigger-screen LCD iPhone XR, which seems to be a hit with its lower price point. But I was wrong about 5G (that was a poorly-researched prediction) and new features were largely confined to camera stuff. Half point.

6. iPad mini forever. Full point, though there are rumblings about a new model this year.

7. iPad Pro with Face ID. Full point.

8. AR Device. Eh. Zero points. VR/AR isn't quite as hot as everyone predicted. I still think Apple is working on something here, though.

9. Artificial Intelligence emphasis. Not sure I can give much credit here. Apple did make some talent acquisitions, and Siri is improving continuously. But as far as "AIKit", that already existed in the form of CoreML, so that's not anything really new. Zero points.

10. 2018 closing stock price: $210. Well, the macro economy finally caught up to Apple, as the entire market took a dive at the end of the year thanks to the China trade war, the effect of rising interest rates from an over-leveraged economy, and the expiration of the short-term stimulus effects of the Trump tax cuts. Oh, and of course, analysts are panicking about "peak iPhone" after Apple announced it would no longer report iPhone unit sales. Apple was sailing along nicely in the $210 range until December, and as of today it sits at $158.23. Zero points.

Total: 4 out of 10. Not great.

Here we go for 2019:
1. New Mac Pro. It's overdue and it's gotta happen. I still think a modular design is in the cards. It might be a Mac mini on steroids.

2. No New MacBook. It's kind of hard to see how the 12" MacBook fits into the lineup between the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro as far as the ultraportable category goes. I think the MacBook will continue to sell for a while, but Apple might forego updates to it for this year.

3. iPhone 8 forever. Well, perhaps not "forever"... but maybe one more year of selling a TouchID-enabled phone before Apple commits to the iPhone X line forever?

4. iPhone 2019. I think we've painted ourselves into a corner, as far as naming. Maybe this is the year we just call it "iPhone", or start a whole new numbering convention, but "iPhone X2" (pronounced "iPhone ten-two") would be just silly, and something like "iPhone XT" would be confusing. Feature-wise: probably still no true 5G (5G mobile tech looks more like a 2020 thing), so my bold prediction is that we'll see very little in the way of hardware innovations, and Apple will focus on improving CPU performance and battery life with the goal of enabling more software features (with an emphasis on AI and image processing in particular).

5. iPad mini 5. There's a handful of rumors about this, and I think... maybe there's a market for this? You know, for kids? We'd be talking about something below the current iPad price point of $329, so... maybe an 8" $249 device with Apple Pencil support? It'd be more compelling at $199, but I don't think Apple can go that low.

6. Streaming TV Service. There's too much public stuff going on for this not to be true. Apple has a ton of work going on with content creation, so a subscription TV service is just a question of "when", not "if". My guess is a $10/month service that's combined with Apple Music and provides a mix of original content, movies, and network TV shows. Is there a differentiator between this and what Netflix/Amazon/Hulu provides? It's hard to see what that would be.

7. Noise-cancelling AirPods. This is on my personal wishlist, and it's shown up on rumor sites before. Fingers crossed.

8. HomePod mini. HomePod, to me, is a device and category that needs a lot of work. A lower-priced model (that's focused more on the home-assistant requirements and less on the high-end audio stuff) makes a ton of sense. Incorporation of hub technology for some existing control protocols (e.g. Z-wave), or direct support for smart outlets and light switches, would be super useful.

9. Smart Fashion. Apple surely recognizes that the iPhone is no longer an innovation product, and Apple Watch hasn't really captivated the world (though, it's a much more successful product than it's been given credit for). Apple will continue to push the watch as its innovation platform, but I have to believe its advanced R&D department has something up its sleeve with regards to a smart ring, smart bracelet, smart pendant, and/or smart glasses.

10. 2019 closing stock price: $170. The end of the bull market has arrived, I think. Stocks will be volatile and tread water for a lot of the year. Apple will probably see a few runs in both directions; savvy investors will pay attention to the bottom line and the increasing revenue from services.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

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