So there’s that report on Thursday that Apple is holding a media event on Monday, March 9th, at 10 AM, to “Spring Forward.” The obvious daylight savings time connection is all about Apple Watch, and it’s expected that you’ll learn about the final specs and pricing. How long will the battery last? Will it be possible to replace the core watch module to keep it current? How else can Apple justify price tags that may grow to five figures?
Certainly the hype has already begun in earnest, with a 12-page spread appearing in Vogue, and no doubt other fashion magazines will be included in the ad campaign. Apple Watch is only superficially a tech gadget, particularly when 18-karat gold enters the picture. It’s something the tech media hasn’t quite figured out in comparing Apple Watch to other presumed players in the market.
Now when the likes of TAG Heuer release their own variations on the Apple Watch theme, that will be genuine competition. But not a Pebble.
In any case, it will be interesting to see where Apple takes Apple Watch and draws the lines with features and focus. How will they appeal to folks for whom a watch that starts at $349 is a huge leap? Or maybe that’s not the audience they want.
There’s also speculation that Apple Watch won’t be the only product on display at the March event. That’s where the real mystery lies.
So will the MacBook Air be refreshed, at last, with chips from Intel’s Broadwell family? This will mean improved graphics and battery life mostly, so the changes would be welcomed. But will MacBook Air enter Retina display territory? Certainly not at a starting price of $899, but there could be separate models that will, ultimately, replace the existing lineup when display prices come down some more. This is where talk of a 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina display enters the picture, but it seems curious that Apple wouldn’t just retain the same display sizes as existing models. Why have something new?
I suppose it’s also possible there will be Broadwell updates for the MacBook Pro with Retina display, though that might not come until summer, depending on how quickly the more powerful Broadwell CPUs are available in sufficient quantities. Will there be a new form factor? Is there a need for one?
What about rumors of an iPad Pro with a 12-or-so-inch display? Will that arrive along with a smart stylus? The combination might encourage content creators and some businesses to embrace the stalled tablet revolution where most of the growth seems to be with no-name cheapies.
One product long overdue for a refresh is Apple TV, last upgraded in 2012 with 1080p capability. But as TV makers are rushing to deliver affordable 4K (Ultra HD) sets, will Apple stuff more powerful parts in a new Apple TV? Surely there would more onboard flash memory to buffer the larger video streams. Maybe even to compensate if your broadband connection is barely up to the task of handling higher resolution content, or just gets bogged down.
But maybe the new net neutrality rules will keep ISPs from playing games with streaming video content.
One thing Apple needs is to rethink is the typical video streaming interface. With dozens of apps or channels, it’s pretty cluttered, although you can hide third-party services you don’t want. This is nothing unique, and such streamers as a Roku do it too. With Roku, it’s really necessary since so many channels are being offered.
So is that mythical magical TV interface, touted by Steve Jobs in that authorized biography, the solution to channel/service clutter? How does Apple deal with adding more content without adding more confusion? Will there be the rumored Apple streaming service to compete with Netflix and Amazon Instant Video? Does Apple get in the game of producing original content too, setting up a huge bidding war to attract performers, directors and producers?
Will Apple allow Apple TV to become the TiVO-like front end to an existing cable or satellite service? It would surely fix poor and lagging user interfaces and all, but may otherwise be a disappointment. If it works, it would possibly give the existing carriers a way to help stem cord cutting., though some would suggest Apple merely sold out.
The big fly in the ointment to all these expectations is that Apple prefers not to clutter media events with too much new gear. Most Macs can be announced with a press release. A new iPad configuration, and a new Apple TV might warrant more, particularly the latter since it really hasn’t received a whole lot of promotion so far.
And what about a surprise “one more thing” product? Does Apple have something to offer that we don’t know about, something off the rumor radar? Perhaps some suggestions will turn up ahead of March 9th.
One thing you won’t see is an Apple Car. Even if Apple is working on such a vehicle, it won’t see the light of day for several years even by the most optimistic estimates. And you’d know about it far in advance once it has to pass through EPA and insurance company certifications.
At least you’ll be able to see Apple’s event play out online or on your Apple TV — even if that’s due to be obsolete real soon now.
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