A Springy Start to Apple in 2015?

February 27th, 2015

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?

Questions, questions.

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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3 Responses to “A Springy Start to Apple in 2015?”

  1. DaveD says:

    Yes, I will be interested in how Apple will be presenting their smart watches to the buying public. I’m not in the that market due to not having an iPhone 6. Just don’t need a smart phone for now as my old dumb cell phone still does the job of making voice calls. I do recall that Apple has a way of introducing a device that initially a ”want” that becomes a ”need.” I am quite satisfied that my iPad mini serves as my need for mobile computing.

    Looking at the long term of sales of mobile devices, the smart phone market is different. The cell network providers are pushing hardware upgrades at a perceived lower cost which greatly benefit iPhone sales. As with the tablet market, the upgrade pattern is quite lower. With a watch, the desire to upgrade would be even less than for a tablet.

    So, Apple has to surprise me once more if they can make their smart watches a need.

    As to what other products that might get a mention, I can see a MacBook Air with retinal display and all current models get a processor refresh. Can’t see Apple dropping the current MacBook Air models, they are still the best for the price. The Apple TV needs an upgrade. Still unsure about the whether we will see an iPad Pro.

    Introducing new products is nice, but Apple has to get their software house in order. I have a need for good performance and stability.

  2. Yacko says:

    The key to the watch is it saves you time (ha-ha). Never underestimate how important time saving and convenience are to technological uptake. Controls the house, starts the car, pays at checkout, shows you next task, manages health and limits the time-sucking interruptions that mar your day. I think Apple and Ive are a bit sheepish at having unleashed a device, the iPhone, which people spend too many minutes with their zombie faces buried in the eye candy. The Apple Watch will limit that attention deficit behavior and allow people to spend more time having human interaction and less with devices, at least at some key important moments of the day. The watch is not the be-all, end-all currently but will over time be ever more capable. The watch is not as likely to be lost as an iPhone and could serve as a good way to find a nearby iPhone or alert the user to an act of theft. So, how else can you attach something to a person’s body, have it instantly available and yet not be a noticeable irritant to the user like a garment tag inside a shirt? Smart glasses? Ha-ha.

  3. dfs says:

    ” I have a need for good performance and stability.” Exactly right. And at the moment Apple’s house isn’t in perfect order. Problems seem to abound with Yosemite wi-fi and Bluetooth, for ex., and it would make good sense for them to ease up a bit on their forward movement and play catch-up with quality control. It’s time, in other words, for another Snow Leopard. Right at the moment I need the stuff I already have to work more reliably more than I need more new bells and whistles. I’d like to be able to do stuff like have all the Macs on my LAN be accessible by Screen Sharing rather than just some of them. I’d like to be able to access the stuff on my Mac from Apple TV the way I’m supposed to, rather than just be told to switch on Family Sharing when I’m darn sure I’ve already done that. I’d like to be able to pair my iPhone and my Mac. Ever since upgrading to Yosemite I’ve lost the ability to do all these things, and from nosing around on the web I’m convinced a lot of other people are experiencing the same or similar issues.

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