Apple unleashed a number of exciting new devices and technologies upon the world in 2010, including the iPhone 4, the new Apple TV, the MacBook Air with solid state storage and, perhaps most importantly, the iPad. Will we see Apple maintain the momentum into 2011 and release a completely new product line or will enhancement and refining of existing devices and software be the main focus?
According to Gene Munster, primo Apple analyst, we won’t see any new product lines introduced by the company in 2011, rather existing lines will be upgraded. This will obviously be a disappointment for those waiting for a standalone Apple television, an Apple in-car navigation system or an Apple Blu-ray player.
However, you have to bear in mind that Munster’s forecast is a little on the tentative side with ambitious predictions of the launch of OSX 10.7, a Mac App Store, a Verizon iPhone and carrier-subsidised iPads. We, on the other hand, will cheerfully stick our necks out a little further and, while agreeing with Gene on some things, would suggest that other additional and fairly major revamps are right around the corner:
– MobileMe will no doubt be in line for the biggest redesign if Apple wants to remain competitive in a market where DropBox offers 20GB of free storage, GMail offers almost 8GB of free e-mail, calendars and document sharing, and Picasa offers photo sharing. Look for dramatic pricing changes, and for Apple to offer a complete online system backup, akin to Time Machine with tiered fee storage options ranging from 100GB to 1TB. Additionally, seamless online integration and sharing between OSX 10.7 and iOS devices will be a big feature.
– You can talk about a small 2011 refinement of the iMac and MacBook Pro until you are blue in the face but look towards the low-end polycarbonate MacBook for massive changes. This model with either be replaced with something else or will undergo a massive revamp. It simply does not fit with the rest of Apple’s product line-up.
– Apple will grab the eBooks market by the horns and offer a brand new web-based eReader for Mac through the Mac App Store in tandem with an improved eBookstore.
– iTunes will go, to be replaced by a sandboxed cloud-oriented media suite. It’s difficult to predict how Apple would make the change but a Spotify style service for music may be on the cards.
– Apple will put pressure on providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast to offer better deals for both wireless and home wired network data. 2GB for $25 a month? Not cool.
All of these predictions are in addition to the usual expected revisions (a wonderfully comprehensive and optimistic list of 2011 expectations can be found over at AppleHolic).