Tomorrow is Apple’s biggest opportunity since June to address the world. But it’s much bigger than that, really … it’s Apple’s biggest opportunity since October of last year to impress the pundits, analysts, press — and most important, buyers — with its vision for the future.
That vision — and the man who crafts it — has been very much in question lately.
Apple’s stock is down over $100 since October, when the company released new everything: MacBooks, iMacs, iPads, software, cloud features, processors, apps, hard drives, a Mac Mini, and more. Everything, that is, but the single most important device in Apple’s product portfolio, and the one that makes Apple the majority of its revenue: the iPhone.
That product will be front and center tomorrow, as Apple unveils new hardware to push the green robot, Android, back from its 80 percent global market share — and to make the company relevant again in fast-growing but price-challenged markets like China.
Here’s what I confidently expect to see from Apple tomorrow:
New iPhone 5S
Apple will almost certainly release a new feature-bumped iPhone 5S, using the same basic shape of the existing iPhone 5 but with a faster processor, dual flash, better camera, fingerprint sensor for biometric security and maybe even mobile commerce use, more colors (adding champagne to the existing black and white), and maybe more flash memory.
I think we can safely say that if that’s all there is, it’s nice, and it’s a feature bump. But it’s nothing mind-blowing.
New cheaper iPhone 5C
We will also almost certainly see a brand-new iPhone 5C, the cheaper iPhone. It will come in multiple bright colors, have slightly lower specs than the iPhone 5S — perhaps equivalent to the now year-old iPhone 5 — and sport a cheaper plastic back, rather than the iPhone 5′s metal back.
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Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS 7, will also make its public debut, probably becoming available for download and install within a week or two. iOS 7 has gone through numerous public beta test versions, and the latest iteration have seen Apple pull back a bit on the sparse, minimalistic interface that caused so much uproar months ago and offered clearly, more obvious hints and details on the system’s screens.
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New iPhones and a new iPhone operating system are pretty much guaranteed for tomorrow. Now we’re going to get a little bit speculative.
Apple knows that it’s in trouble, has been losing market share, and that it needs to demonstrate that Cupertino is still the global nexus for cutting-edge mobile device design — something that’s very much in doubt right now. The very invitation for this Apple Event says that “this should brighten everyone’s day.”
So Apple just might go all out – like it did last year — and pull the wraps off a whole lot of iGoodness.
iTunes Radio, OS X, new Macs
iTunes Radio hasn’t actually launched yet, but the media deals appear to be in place. Expect something about this Pandora competitor. Also, a new version of Apple’s desktop operating system, OS X Mavericks, is in the works, and Apple might just decided to mention something about it, like a launch date. And finally, the first new Mac Pro in years, which Apple teased in the summer, is due to make a public appearance sometime soon.
As for new iPods … who really cares?
Apple typically doesn’t release new iPads at the same event as iPhones. But with iPad market share starting to tumble at the same time as iPhone, Apple might just decide to “think different” and come out with a unified front of new smartphone and tablet devices. There’s been a lot of speculation and rumor lately about new iPad Minis, a new generation of iPads that are as thin as the Mini iPads, and more.
This is not terribly likely, but it is possible.
And finally … one more thing … iWatch
Could it, could it, could it be possible that Apple might finally unveil a wearable computing product, such as iWatch.
Samsung beat it to the punch with the ugly and limited Galaxy Gear, beating Apple to the punch. As if that’s not bad enough, a car company — yes, a car company; you can’t get more old-school than that — just launched an absolutely gorgeous new smartwatch that looks like it might have been designed by a drooling Apple fanboy on a pirated Photoshop bender.
So Apple has some catching up to do.
Apple never releases anything until it’s ready, however, and despite the long rumor cycle on this one, there are no guarantees.