Apple's waiting game will pay off with a new product categoryEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Two days ago, Apple did their quarterly earnings call, and everyone freaked out. You may be thinking you may have missed something super important, or super revealing, but fear not, it's nothing new. Apple posted ridiculous numbers, earned a revenue of $43.6 billion, and everyone at Apple is still confident in their product lineup. But, as it usually happens, the whole world was yelling that, at its most fundamental level, it wasn't good enough.
It's never good enough. Just so we're clear.
In any event, I'm not going to get into the numbers, and I'm not going to get into what it means for Apple. Essentially, I'm going to do my best to try and stay away from the "doom and gloom," and focus on the positive here for a bit. After all, our own Anna Scantlin did a nice write up on what she thinks Apple's earnings call means when it comes to the Cupertino-based company's future.
So, staying away from the doom and gloom. Right. Focusing on the positive. Okay then, let's look at the positives. First, we've still got WWDC to look forward to. It's the event that Apple uses to show off the newest versions of their software, and where developers usually get their first crack at it. This event is no different, as Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that there will be a new version of iOS on deck. There has already been plenty of speculation about the invitations that Apple sent out, and how it relates to the newest version of the company's mobile operating system. No surprise there, and considering we're hearing that iOS 7 (or whatever they call it) could see a new "flat" design, there's no reason why the speculation shouldn't continue well into the night before the event kicks off.
Since the earning call wrapped up, I've seen a wide assortment of opinion pieces on what Apple's doing wrong, and what they should do next. It helps that Cook hinted that big things are coming down the pipe, as well he should have. He's a smart man, and he knows that he had to basically whet the appetite of everyone listening to the call, and everyone who would ultimately read about the call later. So, here's what he had to say:
"Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce in the fall and into 2014. We continue to be very confident in our future product plans."
Honestly, there's nothing surprising there. That's about as canned as it gets. It'd be really interesting if he said he *wasn't* excited about what's coming. Or that he had to throw all the designs out the window and start fresh, just because. That'd be new. But we didn't get that, and we got that response, which should really only get you as excited as you would normally get knowing that Apple has something coming in the future.
What is exciting, is that Cook essentially the "potential of exciting new product categories." Now, see, that will whet your technology appetite. So, not only do we know that we've got new iPads, (maybe?) new iPods, and new iPhones to expect later this year, but now we can get excited about something completely different.
This is where someone would probably yell and point out the smart watch theory. That's certainly possible. In fact, based on the sheer amount of rumors that have circulated around it, and the simple fact that I don't think a "real" Apple TV is coming any time soon, I believe that a smart watch is a safe bet. However, I did see some folks suggest that Apple's "exciting new product category" will still fall in the iPad line, and just be a different size, or a different price. Or both.
This theory makes sense, in a way. We've seen Apple do this with other product lines in their portfolio, like the iPod. Different options, with different features, with different price tags means that it suits people in specific ways. Someone wants a small, cheaper iPad and now they can choose the iPad Mini. They want a full-sized iPad without paying the full price tag for one? That's an option now, too.
So adding a different tablet, with a different set and focused market presence would make sense, especially looking at Apple's device history. However, I don't think this is the case.
I think I'm going to take Cook for his word here, and believe that they are indeed launching something entirely new. Why? Because Apple's focusing on the season here, and launching a brand new device that fits nicely as "another iDevice" in the holiday shopping season makes for a good move. Especially if it is the smart watch, and Apple can indeed market it as the perfect accessory for your new iPhone 5S, or your new iPad (or iPad Mini).
The good news here, oddly enough, is that you'll have to wait to see what Apple has coming down the pipe in the hardware front. You'll have to wait to see new software, too, but not nearly as long. And that wait means you'll get to save your money (if you're into that kind of thing), fully expecting to see a whole new suite of hardware --coupled with new software-- to buy for yourself this holiday season. Or for someone else. Your call.
Truth be told, I think it's good that Apple is waiting, especially when it comes to the iPad and iPad Mini. It just gives people who bought those devices at launch a little more time with them, and that's not a bad thing. The next iPhone? Well, that will hopefully be right on schedule, more or less. And it will all be in time for the biggest shopping season of the year. Doesn't seem like a terrible idea at all.
Do you think Apple is making a mistake by waiting until the fall to announce anything hardware related? Or do you think tapping into the season is a good idea? Do you believe Apple is gearing up to launch something completely new? Or just a different variation on an existing product? Let me know!