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Apple’s Next Big Thing Will Be Huge

If your company has been going up against {complink 379|Apple Inc.} in the smartphone, tablet PC, or digital music player markets, be very afraid. Apple's return salvo may catch you completely by surprise.

The company has been too quiet recently. Ominously quiet. The silence can only mean one thing: Apple will come out soon with another major product line that will redefine its market segment. That's my prediction. How do I know? Apple's late founder, chairman and CEO Steve Jobs promised the company will be rolling out some extraordinary breakthrough technologies in the near future. I believe the process of rolling out the next product from Apple is peaking currently and we should see something compelling from the company within months.

In order to continue pacing the competition, Apple has to keep its innovation engine humming. Jobs's demise is unlikely to hamper this, at least not in the short term. All indications are that the company had a batch of products it was working on before his death. Speculations within the industry include an update to the Apple TV box — some say it might be a conventional TV-support product (miniaturized) with video streaming capabilities. I believe Apple will probably unveil a new device that will unsettle many and redefine the video entertainment industry. It will definitely combine the best of Apple hardware and software with industry content.

I am fascinated with the growing speculations in the industry about the next products Apple might introduce for entertainment. These include a Siri or voice-controlled HDTV, an Apple iTV that transforms the television experience — one that an analyst believes the industry isn't quite prepared for, or a direct invasion of the publishing and educational books market.

We may only speculate on what Apple has in mind next, but we can also be certain it won't be another humdrum product. The company's future hangs on its ability to wow the consumer market, repeatedly — and failure to excite customers and intimidate the competition could hurt its huge capitalization. Already, some folks are speculating the competition is responding faster and more nimbly to Apple's design edge and may even be catching up in certain areas. (See: Is Apple Losing Its ‘Cool’ Design Edge?.)

I give Apple credit for sparking growth in the music player, smartphone, and tablet PC markets, but expectations for the company have become so high only Apple can beat itself. Rivals like {complink 4751|Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.} have learned to make incremental improvements to their products, sneaking in quick and numerous updates while Apple sticks to its schedule of about every six months or so for new product introduction.

Plus, too many companies (Google, HTC, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, and Samsung) have been ganging up on Apple recently, and the gradual turf encroachment by these rivals must be ticking off somebody at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, Calif. Quite naturally, Apple must fight back and it will do so in typical Apple style with a shockingly simple-to-use product that redefines a specific market sector. If Apple nails it, the already stratospherically high share price will climb even higher, ending temporarily concerns the absence of Jobs may dim investor passion.

There's another reason why Apple has to strike back with a new product that is both unique and market-defining. CEO Timothy Cook has to prove the company can continue to function at the highest level without the guiding hands of Steve Jobs. It's universally acknowledged Jobs left a vacuum few can successfully fill, but Cook, who seems to have performed extremely well during his former boss's medical hiatus in the past, must now be his own man.

He must do it with the outstanding results Jobs got while he was around, but with the Cook imprint. I believe he is up to it.

47 comments on “Apple’s Next Big Thing Will Be Huge

  1. Nemos
    January 10, 2012

    I don't know. I hope so also, because time is passing and Apple is losing points. Nevertheless, maybe all companies not only Apple facing troubles to encapsulate new technologies to its products. Maybe Apple tries to find a way.

  2. Clairvoyant
    January 10, 2012

    I agree with Bolaji that Apple will be coming out with some new great products. Things have been quiet and I bet they have many great ideas and products being developed in secrecy.

  3. Daniel
    January 11, 2012

    Yes Bolaji, I had read about their plan for Apple I TV. According to that journal they are expected to be in market by the end of third quarter or fourth quarter in 2012. I hope like ipad and iphone, it's also be a huge hit.

  4. bolaji ojo
    January 11, 2012

    Jacob, If an Apple engineer could only forget the latest invention in a bar! I've been scratching my head wondering what Apple might have in mind for the TV market and haven't been able to come up with something extraordinary. Yet.

  5. Himanshugupta
    January 11, 2012

    Before Job's demise, the market speculated enough about the iTV so there might be something cooking up at Apple's HQ.

    The next Apple product's failure or success will have a huge impact on Cook's image and Apple's (to be) future. A successful product will only strenghten Job's visionary image (even after his death as he was directly involved in this particular product) while a failure would tarnish the image of Cook as a stewart of Apple empire. So, Cook should leave no stone unturned to make next product (whatever it is) a success.

  6. Profchuck
    January 11, 2012

    I suspect that the next truly revolutionary “big thing” will be stereo or 3D television that does not require special glasses or restrictions on viewer location. Sony and JVC have been experimenting with this technology but don't be surprised if Apple beats them  to the punch.

  7. FLYINGSCOT
    January 11, 2012

    I hope you are right about Apple next great product simply because the world needs companies like Apple to bring joy into our lives.  However it will be very tough to keep dominating the markets they serve.  Time will tell.

  8. Eldredge
    January 11, 2012

    Even while Jobs was alive and active, he would need a staff of innovative engineers, technicians, and business people to embrace his vision and implement it in products. Jobs best product for Apple was to create a culture of innovation. If Apple can keep that alive, they will provide more amazing products.

  9. bolaji ojo
    January 11, 2012

    Profchuck, That's the great mystery and in some ways the other embarrassing disappointment of this industry. How is it that in such a market with such great possibilities only Apple has been successful in bringing out such innovations. Why is the rest of the field so filled with followers rather than leaders?

  10. bolaji ojo
    January 11, 2012

    Flyingscot, If you look at the last set of fascinating consumer products to come out of the electronics industry, most of these have been from Apple. The rest of the field has been fast-followers. We need new products to keep the sizzle but apparently we can't look for these from any other company aside from Apple. It's striking and disappointing.

  11. bolaji ojo
    January 11, 2012

    Eldredge, I am betting that in honor of his memory and to prove that they can maintain the momentum, Apple will deliver outstanding products to consumers. The other incentive is that many of the company's employees have become millionnaires via stock options. If growth stall they'll lose this extra lift to their incomes.

  12. Profchuck
    January 11, 2012

    I suspect you appreciate just how profound that question actually is.  Most people are followers simply because it is easier.  It takes a combination of courage and strength to think so completely “out of the  box” as Jobs consistently did.  You also have to be very smart but lots of people are that. I think that Jobs, and the small few that are like him, do not think in terms of limitations but of opportunities.  The concept of limits does not enter into their thinking so their actions are not impeded by them.  Once a new idea is presented there will be many others that jump on the bandwaggon.  Consider the IPad for example.  Jobs showed that there was a market for such a device and others, with less imagination, moved in to take  a share of the market.  Actually, it is interesting to consider that the idea for the IPad actually originated with Arthur C. Clark (no surpise there) as he describes such a device with great accuracy in the book version  of “2001” and again in ” Rendezvous with Rama”.  His “newspad” is clearly a description of a modern pad computer.  There is another person, who  like Jobs, had a well deserved reputation for thinking beyond the boundaries.

  13. Barbara Jorgensen
    January 11, 2012

    Well said, Profchuck. I wrote a story not so long ago based on the concept that creative thinking can be broken down, diagrammed, and taught. I found that my old habits, training, whatever, was interfering with my understanding of this concept. The ability to clear the slate (so to speak) and start from scratch isn't that easy, and the ability to execute products is even tougher. I think the Apple story has a big element of inspiration, and I hope the spirit of inspiration can be retained. If creative thinking can be taught, Steve Jobs is the ideal teacher.

  14. bolaji ojo
    January 11, 2012

    Barbara, Apple might be going after the educational market now. A news report from Bloomberg News said the company is unveiling the new plan next week. It should be interesting. See: Apple Plans Education Announcement in New York on Jan. 19.

    The economy needs this type of overhaul by companies that recognize no boundaries and who question how things are done.

  15. _hm
    January 11, 2012

    Apple should start University of Innovations. You earn your doctorate only with five major innovations!

     

  16. bolaji ojo
    January 11, 2012

    _hm, I like your idea of the Apple University of Innovation. Send me an application! I once thought of getting a Phd. If Apple is offering it, the school will be filled to overflowing. I suspect some of the applicants will be the CEOs of its rivals!

  17. itguyphil
    January 11, 2012

    Well, technically everything they do is in secrecy until they're ready to talk. But I'm pretty sure they're taking their time to build anticipation for what's next.

  18. Wale Bakare
    January 12, 2012

    _hm, i think alternatively,  certifications on various Apple products could be a hit. Education inform of training to be certfied Apple technician, enginer and iOS developer.

  19. jbond
    January 12, 2012

    I think at this point there are so many possibilities of what Apple's new innovation will be, that we could create a giant list of speculations and still be wrong. We know Apple is up to something, when we actually find this out is a mystery.

  20. Alex Pohorily
    January 12, 2012

    Can't wait until they “lose” the next iPhone 😉

  21. _hm
    January 12, 2012

    Yes, that is also wonderful idea.

  22. _hm
    January 12, 2012

    @Bolaji: Yes, it is corporate resposibility of organization like Apple, Intel and IBM to invest heavily in University, institute like this. Apple in innovative and even they can make more money from it! 

  23. t.alex
    January 13, 2012

    This is interesting. The next question will be how Apple bring in the 3D content for consumers?

  24. itguyphil
    January 14, 2012

    Alex,

    Good way to put it.

  25. SunitaT
    January 17, 2012

    Apple is also planning to add extra new features to existing products. For example Apple's future iPhones & iPads could automatically personalize via face recognition. Also there are rumours that Apple could water-proof future devices with HzO technology. It clearly shows that Apple never stops innovation.

  26. SunitaT
    January 17, 2012

    Apple might be going after the educational market now.

    @Bolaji, this is great move my Apple, Education market is still untapped and I am sure Apple will help change the nature of this education system. Its also been rumoured that US' largest education publishers McGraw-Hill is working with Apple on a model that will facilitate the delivery of dynamic e-books to iOS and Mac devices.

  27. SunitaT
    January 17, 2012

    it is corporate resposibility of organization like Apple, Intel and IBM to invest heavily in University, institute like this.

    @_hm, I am not sure about Apple but Intel and IBM have heavily invested in such programms. Such industry-university tie-ups helps student get exposed to the latest technology trend. Moreover companies can take the help of universities to implement R&D projects.

  28. bolaji ojo
    January 17, 2012

    I don't see Apple engaging in the creation of a university. The company is primarily a hardware vendor and not a content creator. In fact, it has done very well by being a content aggregator.

  29. _hm
    January 17, 2012

    This will be wonderful program if Apple look for say 20% international bright students. Apple may look for advance education like graduate and post graduate.

    Apple has needs to be no one in wafer scale integration and high end semiconductor designs. This may help them in long run.

     

     

  30. Anne
    January 26, 2012

    I think one can speculate on what Apple has in the future.  What I know is that if Apple wants to maintain its dominance, it will have to be more creative.  The challenge lies in creating what others thought impossible.  That's how it all started with the ipod, the iphone and the ipad.  While others were busy doing what everybody else did, Apple stepped outside of the box and did something that others thought could not be done and that is what Apple is all about.

  31. rr6013
    April 26, 2012

    University of Innovation has brand credibility, human investment, giving back and an ethos of the late SteveJobs which even his biographer did not capture…so clearly the case is made to institutionalize knowledge.

    Brand Credibility:  AAPL can do this right now.  Anyone else?  The moment is NOW.

    Human Investment:  Talent is the lifeblood of enterprise to wit – SteveJobs

    Giving Back:  Apple builds bridges and giving back is just another possibility

    Ethos:  Categorically ” new” the SteveJobs ethos of success.  This is reason d'etre for University of Innovation.  As much as Apple did not invent anything new it did bring existing technologies together package them and functionally changed how they serve a purpose through innovation.

    The single most important motivation for AAPL to fund a standalone university is this little secret.  Public institutions of higher learning are handmaidens to corporate America.  They serve a public to fulfill an unwritten guarantee that after 4 years a person can make a living doing what they learn there.  They serve another public community of corporations in turning out graduates that industry needs, at a price they can afford to hire and with skills that are productive to the corporation.

    What gets lost in that scenario is creativity, innovation, invention and intellectual discipline required to make a difference in the world.  Apple have had to nurture, train and shape an innovative culture from within.  Very rarely does it buy its innovation and bring it in-house.  That is the secret to success and finding talent is like four leaf clover hunting.  But nurturing, supporting and encouraging innovation in a campus setting with TechCoastAngel launching pads and DARPA grant silos for graduates is far more enriched than LinkedIN, headhunters and old fashioned resume shopping for employment. 

  32. WhiteLotus
    June 23, 2012

    “Plus, too many companies (Google, HTC, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, and Samsung) have been ganging up on Apple recently, and the gradual turf encroachment by these rivals must be ticking off somebody at 1 Infinite Loop”

    Apple knows they are in the drivers seat. When you know you can move faster and outmaneuver the competition you aren't too worried about them. Apple's is more concerned with flustering the competition with things like patent lawsuits. People think this is a ploy to kill competition and it is, sort of. It's really hardball business tactics. They've been doing it for decades.

    The employees at Apple look forward, they don't look back. If the share price tanks they don't get scared and say, “Oh our stock price tanked, we better do something now.” They don't let investors drive the business decisions. They have a true passion for what they do and they do their business well.

    On the subject of Universities, Apple has their own “in house” University. It was implemented by Steve Jobs when he was still alive. He hired the best business instructors and had them give lectures to Apple executives. His goal was to help people think more like him, out of the box, to make smart decisions.

  33. oavery
    July 4, 2012

    Actually the creativity started with the Apple II, Macintosh, Newton (a failed product but the precursor to Palm) etc. Apple has been making major innovations – mostly hits, some misses – for a long long time. I expect they are cool for the next couple of years. The interesting thing will be to see if they can continue it without the aesthetic, perfectionistic and out of the box input of Steve Jobs. Definitely when he was ejected from Apple in the whole debacle in the 1980s – he went on to create NeXT (which became the kernel of the modern Mac and Pixar) while the residual Apple company under a series of managers came up with . . . . squat. Hopefully he did better in engineering the company to try to institutionalize his genius . . . . if this is possible. Meanwhile Google like Microsoft is looking like a quasi-one-trick-pony. Both companies came up with incremental additions that were commercially important (like MS Office and the Google email and other functionalities) but neither came up with a second world changing innovation. Watching this all evolve is sooo interesting. I suspect Jobs was a one-in-a-generation type, like Edison and perhaps Tesla. 

  34. bolaji ojo
    July 5, 2012

    @oavery, There's no doubt Steve Jobs was one of a kind. His passion for Apple and genius was unmistakable. Following him would be a hard act but that's still something Apple must find a way to deliver. As you noted, he put in a system to ensure his productivity continued even after he was gone. Perhaps Apple will trip up in future but, for now, it's probably better positioned than many of its peer.

  35. oavery
    July 5, 2012

    I agree Apple is well positioned. I am also hopeful since Jobs had a really extended time to work on picking the right people, installing the right system. I am really hoping that he created a system that will provide excellence in innovation, product design and quality that will last. This is a different situation than the first time he left when he was forced out – both because he had less time and resource to focus on leaving a legacy (being a young guy who basically got screwed over by an incompetent BOD and a manipulative CEO he had brought in from Pepsi) and because by the time of his death Steve had had a lot of time to reflect on himself, what he brought, and what it had taken to produce great success. At the same time this process of trying to institutionalize genius almost never succeeds in any endeavor. The next few years, Apple is probably okay as the products in the pipeline will feed their growth. But the question is whether they will continue to be as innovative as Apple was with the Mac, the iPod, iPhone, iPad etcetera with even newer stuff that nobody has thought of. I really hope they will be but look at the failure of DEC, Microsoft, Google, IBM and others to continue originating and am very skeptical. What is more likely is that conventional minds will come in, “management systems” and fads to rank order people, “talent manage” people, reduce costs, maximize margins and all sorts of typical MBA inside-the-box BS will supplant the innovation through which Jobs made Apple into the giant it became. This is not unique to technology. Merck has never been the company it was under Roy Vagelos. Disney floundered for many years after the founder Walt Disney died. IBM did have a very extended run then floundered until re-inventing themselves as a services company and never recovered their dominant position in innovation. Intel seems to have continued their role as lead innovator but only within their microprocessor product line without other additional innovations. Very few Nobel prize winners went on to top the original discovery that they got the prize for (Francis Crick being the best example of one who did by following his DNA work with equally creative tRNA work). My hypothesis is that innovation requires a particular type of mind focused, thinking, dreaming that has a rare marriage to a driven-personality that has to see their dream realized – a type of person that rarely flourishes in a corporate bureaucracy.

  36. Zhuskers1
    July 19, 2012

    I think Apples next “Big Thing” will be revolutionizing how we buy things with atrue electronic wallet. They will digitize everything we carry in our wallet. It will be easier and more secure than the current paper and card based systems.

  37. bolaji ojo
    July 19, 2012

    Zhuskers1, I am curious what you imagine that product might be. Knowing the confusion of carrying many cards and trying to remember different passwords and pin numbers, I can relate to a device that would merge all the different cards I have into one but still leave them as distinct entities from different providers.

    Also, it took years before Apple introduced the iPad and the iPhone. They had been in development for many years. What time frame do you expect for the next big thing from Apple?

  38. Ariella
    July 19, 2012

    @Bolaji I just hope it lives up to the anticipation. I remember the big letdown people felt about Segways:

    The speculation created an unexpected advance buzz about the then-unknown product that was, at times, hyperbolic. John Doerr speculated that it would be more important than the Internet.[7] Bezos was quoted that “…Cities will be built around this device.” Articles were written in major publications speculating on it being a Stirling engine.[8] South Park devoted an episode to making fun of the hype before the product was released.

  39. Clairvoyant
    July 19, 2012

    That's a good guess, Zhuskers1. Changing and speeding up the way payments are made it's becoming more of a topic in today's world.

  40. tbyrd
    July 22, 2012

    Google already has google wallet, but it would be good for Apple to catch up with Android devices and make it “simple”.  Good guess, I was also thinking about maybe satellite phone? (Because of their recent rumored investment), or something to do with their counter to Adobe flash?  They need to do something since iPhone is a majority of their revenues and its an older device that has been surpassed by droid devices.  (I have one of each).  Good discussion!

  41. tbyrd
    July 22, 2012

    I think it would be nice to have a tablet and laptop combined together.  When you close it, its a tablet on top, but when you open it, its a laptop with keyboard etc…  Just a thought!

  42. Clairvoyant
    July 22, 2012

    Combined tablet and laptop devices already exist. See here for example.

  43. tbyrd
    July 24, 2012

    Thanks for sharing!  That's pretty cool….

  44. bglazierjr
    July 24, 2012

    Those transformer tablets are far from ideal. The android operating system has a long was to go before it is as stable and clean as iOS. Apple's strict but effective method of managing all software has alot to do with its success. I believe I read someone write that the iPhone is an old phone and isn't holding up to droids? I'm not sure where you got that information. The iPhone doesn't have flash support for a good reason and it shows. I mean android phones are so dime a dozen at this point that they are practically giving them away. They are choppy and they never are up to par with what they promise the phone can do. The 8MP camera in most of those phones cannot compare to the camera of the iPhone4S…it is amazing. I am certain that Apple will actually make a market for these transformer tablets if they become a reality. Pretty exciting stuff!

  45. TenshiNo
    August 1, 2012

    You're partially right, in so much as your correct, but with a bit of a caveat.  The Android-powered phone's you're talking about that are a “dime a dozen” that can't compete with the iOS experience are entry-level phones.  That is, they provide a smart phone experience to users who can't afford a $500+ phone.  Many of these phones are even free on-contract with the carriers.  You really can't compare the experience of a $200 phone (iPhone on-contract) with a phone that is free.  No intelligent person should really expect to have as good of an experience with a free phone.

    And as for the Transformer series of tablets, have you ever played on one?  And I don't mean for 30 seconds at Best Buy, cause people jack those demo units up bad.  Android really doesn't have any stability problems, unless they're caused by a 3rd party application, which *does* happen I'll admit.  But that's not necessarily the fault of Android.

    And I'll agree with you that Apple's strict method of managing all software on the device is part of the reason iOS is as smooth as it is, but for many people it's not worth it.  I get an “error” message on my Evo3D about once every two months.  That may be 6 more times per year than an iPhone, but I can do *so* much more with it, that I'll live with the annoyance to get the power.

    The complicated the OS becomes, the harder it is to prevent things knocking heads.  Apple prevents this by limiting features and functionality, but I think that is part of the reason Android is gaining so much market share.  I think most people will “forget” about the occasional issue when they have the ability to do more tasks on a normal basis.

    iOS is a great OS for what it is.  But don't knock all of Android just on the basis that some of the cheap phones aren't as good of an experience.

  46. FreelancePRDotCom
    February 24, 2013

    I agree.  😉

    Our office runs entirely on Macs and our staff uses iPhones because they have a lower TCO than devices that run any other OS. As a small public relations firm competing against pretty big players, we have to look at TCO first. We can't afford to scrape malware out of a PC on a daily basis. Even though there is malware being developed for Macs, there are still far fewer Mac viruses than PC viruses.

    The fact that Macs are just cooler than products from every other player in their verticals is icing on the cake.

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    August 29, 2017

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