Non-predictions


I love the build up to an Apple press conference. This is not Tim Cook’s first — he introduced Lion to us last year while serving as the interim CEO. This is, however, his first as “the guy”. You can see Apple wanting this to be a press conference chock full of new cool stuff so that people feel better about the way the company is headed under this new leadership.

That would probably have the opposite effect.

Analysts would shrug that this is just the end of projects that Steve had on his plate and that we’d yet to see Tim’s imprint on the company. Perhaps then this will just be a quiet event with not much in the way of announcements.

That wouldn’t work either. Analysts would complain that Apple has run out of new ideas now that Steve is gone. No, Apple is going to have to find exactly the right middle path to take.

The first change of direction has been set for months. September was traditionally the time for the iPod announcements. The back to school sale would end and then Apple would kick off the Christmas selling season with the new assortment of iPods.

That’s not the focus this year. The new iPhone has traditionally been announced in June — not this year.

Perhaps Apple missed a deadline or perhaps it’s slowing down the iOS releases the same way it slowed down the Mac OS X releases after the initial deluge of new features. iOS is feeling pretty feature rich right now and this release is a pretty big one. Sure, there’s the move to iCloud but the biggest feature is over the air updates. Combine these two with the list of supported hardware and I’d expect existing iPhone and iPad users to move to iOS5 in record numbers.

So this is an iPhone event. There has to be more to it than that. We’ve been told what’s coming. What will we see new at the press conference? The hardware will make its debut. We’ll be wowed by demo apps running on it. We may or may not see a two-pronged approach with the new hardware at the same price points we’re used to and a new lower cost version of our existing phones.

If rumors are right that the Classic iPod is going away then we’re going to need to be wowed with the new alignment of the product line. I could see a slightly oversized iPod touch to compete with the Kindle Fire to position the Fire as being equivalent to one of Apple’s smaller, less interesting devices rather than the iPad. And what about the iPad? Will we see the retina display bump for the iPad at a premium price?

We haven’t heard about haptic controls for a while, but I’d love to see a screen where you got physical feedback. Imagine what you could do with your apps? Imagine how much more friendly such a device would be to those needing assistive technologies.

There were early rumors that the Mac Book Pro’s would be getting an Air-like enclosure. That could receive a slide or two at this press conference while keeping the focus on the phone.

The banners made it clear that the press conference is about the phone. Everything else is a distraction. That probably means that my yearly dream of Apple TV being reimagined as a gaming console in addition to a video consuming device will not be fulfilled this year. It seems like a natural to pair iPhone and iPod touches as the controllers for games displayed by Apple TV.

It seems like most of the buzz will be about the new assistant and voice interaction with the device. That and the cloud. Should be fun in any case.

Those are my non-predictions for this year.