Will Apple Do This? Or That?

April 16th, 2015

Hardly a day passes where a tech blogger — or so-called industry analyst — rants about how well Apple Watch will do when the sales figures are tallied, or whether it’ll be an abject failure. So far we’ve heard several estimates in the one million range for the first day of preorders. But you wonder how many people are going to get in line knowing they have to wait a month or two for delivery. Does that explain why backlogs have grown no worse, or is Apple steadily ramping up production?

What the suggestion that perhaps Apple underproduced the Apple Watch to build up hype? But why would the company sacrifice revenue, and possibly lose sales, just to exaggerate public reaction? It doesn’t appear logical that any profit-making corporation would sacrifice revenue, although I suppose some people may be drawn to a product believing others are lining up to buy one.

Of course, the problem with all the guesstimates is simple: There is really not much of a history of potential smartphone sales other than tepid demand. Pebble claims to have sold a million units since 2013, which appears to be the best of the bunch. That Apple could deliver the same results in a day or less would appear to be an amazing achievement.

But once the early adopters take delivery, how does Apple continue to build demand, or is it already there?

Speculation has already begun about the next versions of the Apple Watch, though not to large degree. It’s more about how well the current model will do.

On to other subjects.

It’s early in the game to know a whole lot about the next versions of OS X and iOS, although the statement from Philip Schiller that I quoted in yesterday’s column, about new technologies, appears to bury the rumors that Apple would hit pause on the new features, fix the underpinnings of the two operating systems and make them more stable.

The other day I read speculation about the next iPhone. Theory goes, true to form, there will be an iPhone 6s and an iPhone 6s Plus, keeping essentially the same form factor as current models with new insides. Maybe Force Touch, which has already debuted in the Apple Watch and two MacBook models. That would almost seem a given, that Apple wants to spread this feature to other products. Will there be a new Magic Trackpad so users of desktop Macs can share in the joy?

In any case, a new iPhone lineup would no doubt have a faster processor, presumed to be the A9, along with a better camera and other hardware enhancements. But I read a suggestion or two that Apple will go whole hog and move on to an iPhone 7, with the perception that a release with mostly internal enhancements wouldn’t necessarily attract as many customers. Yet only a small number of the people using current models would be expected to upgrade. It’s mostly about customers with older iPhones or smartphones from other platforms.

What about an iPhone 6c, an update to the iPhone 5c with a new case — metal this time? There’s still the belief that the 5c was unsuccessful, although that has never been confirmed with any hard numbers. But when a meme takes over, it’s hard for facts to get in the way. But there is a solid case for a 4-inch iPhone.

What about the prospects for this alleged iPad Pro that arise every so often? Would a 12.9-inch model, which would evidently have appeal to content creators and businesses in general, jumpstart sales? Would that and the growing roster of apps from IBM help move more iPads? What about the folks who bought the first or second versions and are now possibly ready to upgrade? Is Tim Cook correct about the temporary bump in the road, and continued optimism about the product’s future prospects? Or is that just an excuse to explain away falling sales?

My feeling is that it’s early in the game for a replacement cycle, and once that ramps up, perhaps things will get better. But will it happen this holiday season, or does Apple have to do more to boost iPad demand?

While the preliminaries about WWDC are all about iOS and OS X, you would expect more Apple Watch announcements for developers, and perhaps something about Apple TV. But that product would seem to have the most traction for the holidays, unless it’s about an Apple TV developer’s kit with the promise of future availability of more apps. When Apple TV arrives, would it come without 4K or Ultra HD support? That wouldn’t make so much sense since 4K TV sales are expected to grow much faster this year as cheaper sets hit the market.

The rumored Apple subscription TV service? Timing says fall, not during a developer’s session.

It would seem, though, that maybe it’s time for an updated Mac Pro. At this point, though, it would appear to be confined to processor and graphics card enhancements, although I suppose Apple could find a way to offer a larger SSD.

Are there going to be any all new Apple gadgets or services this year, or is the Apple Watch and product refreshes about it for this year?

The critics will tell us what Apple should or shouldn’t do, but growing sales and profits might just tell the tale.

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