Apple just released two new iPhones, announced its first major new product in years, the Apple Watch, and announced Apple Pay, a new mobile payment system.
The new phones are off to a boffo start, selling by the millions. The Apple Watch isn’t coming until early 2015, but people who saw it think it looks good. (Overall, the verdict on the product is mixed.) Apple Pay is coming in October, and it looks promising.
Despite all this new stuff, Apple analyst Gene Munster thinks investors are going to get antsy for the next thing from Apple. He says in a note, “We believe that investors will inevitably start asking soon, ‘What’s next for Apple?'”
Munster has three ideas for what Apple could be planning next. However, he cautions that whatever is next for Apple isn’t likely to come anytime soon.
Apple likes to release a new product, then focus its energy on that product, refining it, getting it right, before moving on to the next thing. Apple took 6 years between the iPod and the iPhone. It took 3 years between the iPhone and the iPad. And, now it’s taking 5 years between the iPad and the Apple Watch.
So, whatever Apple is planning next won’t be here until 2016 at the earliest, says Munster.
And, what is Apple likely to release? Here are Munster’s predictions:
1. APPLE TV
Munster believes an Apple TV is the most likely product to be coming next.
However, he has been calling for an Apple TV since August of 2009, when he said Apple would have a television by 2011. In 2011, when Apple didn’t release a TV, he called for it in 2012. And in 2012, he pushed back his estimate to 2013. And in 2013… he said it would happen in 2014. And, well, here we are in 2014, and now he’s predicting it comes in 2016.
Munster readily admits that he’s not exactly trustworthy on the topic of an Apple TV. “Given how many times we have predicted a television and have yet to see one launch, it may be easy to dismiss our insistence of the television,” he says.
But, he thinks Apple is interested in the TV industry. Tim Cook has repeatedly expressed interest in the TV market, saying it feels like it’s “stuck in the ’70s.” Steve Jobs, before he died, reportedly said he “cracked” the TV interface.
“We also believe that ultimately the television can become a home hub as the connected home evolves,” says Munster. “Thus the next step for Apple with regard to the television may likely be the introduction of an updated Apple TV box that includes some gaming and possibly Siri.”
He doesn’t expect a major Apple TV until 2016 at the earliest since next year will be all about focusing on the Apple Watch and Apple Pay.
Apple has been loading up on fashion and design experts. Munster thinks Apple might want to do more in the wearable computing market than just the Apple Watch.
“We wouldn’t be surprised if Apple eventually moved into other wearable categories like glasses,” says Munster. “We believe as the company refines its watch product, which has moved it squarely into fashion, the company could eventually revolutionise the glasses category with stylish glasses vs the current market offerings.”
It’s possible Apple does something like this, but we would be surprised.
For one, Glasses would be redundant with the Apple Watch. We’re not sure how it would differentiate. And for two, Apple CEO Tim Cook was dismissive of Google Glass last year. He said people wear glasses if they have to, not because they want to. However, he also said the people that do wear glasses make fashion statements with their glasses. With Apple hiring lots of fashion people, it might want to release fashionable frames.
But, last year, Cook said the wrist made more sense for a wearable. So, who knows.
Munster thinks that if Apple did glasses it would be 2-3 years away.
3. A CAR
Building a car is one of those lingering, pie-in-the-sky ideas for Apple.
Before Steve Jobs died, he told people he wanted to make a car. Apple board member Mickey Drexler once said, “Steve’s dream before he died was to design an iCar.”
In 2013, Nick Bilton at The New York Times reported, “In a meeting in his office before he died,Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and former chief executive, told John Markoff of The New York Times that if he had more energy, he would have liked to take on Detroit with an Apple car.”
So, Apple making a car is not as far-fetched as it sounds. For the most part, Apple explores markets/industries that consumers live with, but don’t love. It tries to shake up those industries with radical new solutions. The car certainly fits.
There was speculation that Apple could/should buy Tesla. That seems unlikely since it would be a $US30+ billion purchase. And it would be a big distraction for Apple, which professes to want focus. At the same time, Tesla is a high end, revolutionary company, which fits Apple. It also does a lot with battery technology, which would work with Apple.
Munster’s take on an Apple Car: “While we believe at this point it is unlikely that Apple would enter the car market, we believe that beyond consumer electronics, cars may be the only other market viable for Apple to enter over the long-term (10+ years).”