Apple's 2013: Grab Bag

So, about the iWatch...

No.

Wait, let me finish.

No, I don't think I will. There's a possibility that the new iPod nano will come specially fitted with a wrist strap (paying homage to the iPod touch 'loop' from last fall), but that's as far as it's going to go. It's definitely not going to be marketed as a watch - that market is way too different for Apple to get mired in, and I don't think Apple really wants to.

Okay, fine. No watch. What about the TV? No one's been talking about that at all!

Yeah, that's what I was thinking as well. The TV was in everyone's heads last fall, hoping it would be out before Christmas 2012, but nothing showed. The rumor mill died down, but that doesnt change all the reasons Apple should make a TV, and there are tons.

Personally, I think the delay is not because of hardware or even software design issues - I actually believe these are pretty much ready to go at this point, waiting on the mysterious third factor: network and corporate approval.

My assumption is that Apple's vision for the future of TV is a-la-carte subscription to shows rather than channels, where the customer pays for shows and gets new episodes delivered to them on the fly, accessed via "Shows in the Cloud", or some other iTunes in the cloud equivalent. Everything on CBS sucks except NCAA Basketball? No problem: subscribe and you're good to go! (That last statement's premise was not hypothetical.)

This is quintessential Apple vision, in that it's a) incredibly consumer friendly, b) allows Apple to control and act as the central hub for all content instead of allowing intermediary influence, and c) is contrary to the entire business model of it's clientele. Hence, the delay: convincing networks to give Apple their content for a rate substantially lower than what it would make using their current model of advertising and cable provider perks.

They were able to do so with the music industry because they convinced it that it was dying and that iTunes was the last house on the block to save their industry, which was arguably true in some ways. Their deals with movies and TV shows has been decidedly less consumer friendly, largely motivated by high demand rather than financial need - there was money on the table, and they're charging the highest price they can for the customers.

This deal would involve either relatively high priced TV show subscriptions for prices higher than most customers would feel comfortable paying, or lower prices that the providers would feel comfortale selling their content for. Umm...good luck.

That's my best guess for what Tim Cook meant when he opened up the idea of a "new product category". Steve Jobs' vision for the perfect TV UI, backed with great TV hardware and a new standard for consuming TV content, all delivered by Apple.

Will it show up this year? Honestly, I don't think so, but it's possible.

I am betting on HBOGO on Apple TV by the end of the year, though.

Schedule

I would never have guessed that we'd have to wait until WWDC for an Apple product announcement, but that's what it looks like from here. That's probably good, but I don't know how effective that is in the long term - to be silent for a whole quarter and refresh before the holidays every year is pretty bold, and Apple's not one to yield that level of mindshare to their competitors. Im guessing next year will resume March/June/August/October schedules for events.

Given how weird this year seems, I'm having trouble deciding what's going to happen when. It's fair to say that WWDC will show us OS X 10.9 and iOS 7, but it's not reasonable to write off new hardware being announced as well - last year at WWDC saw the retina MBP's introduction, so it wouldn't be out of the ordinary.

If it's new hardware, I suspect it will be the new Mac Pro and the removal of the standard MBP line. They'll spend 30 minutes updating stuff, show us the new tower, lower the price of the rMBP and make it the official new MBP, and then get on to 10.9 and iOS 7.

After that, there's a music event for new iPods (which I didn't write about because 1) I don't care and 2) who knows that the new iPods are going to look like - they're such a design playground that no one has any clue), an iPhone event that will encompass dropping final release dates for OS X and iOS, and an iPad event. Because of the 6-month time frame, I'm going to guess they do the iPads and the iPods at the same event, the iPhone event with the firm software dates, and another event whenever they finish the TV stuff, if they do at all.

Last year, they did 5 events - iBooks Author, iPad 3 retina, WWDC, iPhone/iPod, and the mini/iPad 4/whole fuckton of Macs event. Four events makes sense, writing off iBooks author as a one-time thing and bringing last years to 4, but 3 is a substantially less amount of time spent introducing new product.