Ok, so I am sitting here working through some final iOS 6 changes leading up to the expected release today and I have been thinking about some recent conversations that I have had about what else is coming today.
The obvious is the new iPhone with an updated design and slightly larger screen. This is coming and it will cause developers a “little” pain, but not as much as changing the screen sizes of the iPad. It will also come with a new dock connector – which I would generally expect it to be in line with the Thunderbolt connector since Apple has been pushing that across their product line up and provides a lot of advantages in moving data. However, it was argued that it would just be USB 3 – which would make sense since you have a large none-mac install base – though, you still have a large crowd that is not on USB 3 yet so the problem of different cables or adapters still exists. I would like to see them move forward with Thunderbolt as it would help push that technology forward – since syncing is wireless the cable options are not as big of a deal. We will see.
A new phone and a new OS are a big deal – however, neither are unexpected and neither are really jaw dropping. iOS 6 has been presented previously, and I think twice with a lot of the WWDC talk on it. Yes that was oriented towards developers like me, but the keynote is a public event. I expect them to present it, announce availability, and move on. The phone, yes a big deal (the iPhone revenue segment is larger than the entire revenue at Microsoft (via CNN)
However, the iPhone is old news and I don’t believe is going to offer much more than standard evolutionary enhancements – more memory, faster processor, better antenna, and increased battery life. And while I think that makes for enough for a standard keynote I think a dedicated media event might be a bit much, though they have done it before. From a marketing perspective, I don’t think they want the headlines to be “Apple Underwelmed”. While they have done it before I think it did not turn out the way they wanted, and it could have been due to a last minute pull of a signature announcement that was the “wow” factor.
So … what else could be coming …
New iPods … possibly, but these will likely be nothing more than standard updates. The “iPod” is now so old I don’t expect any TV ads, and by old I mean still strong in that market segment and still a major revenue source but no longer exciting or offering something new. So the iPod is not dead, but no longer a showcase item.
The big news will be the the iPod Touch is dead. I expect this is probably the best selling, or close to, the best selling iPod today. But it is dead. Done.
The product never really fit in the iPod line-up, heck when it was first released it shipped with the ‘iPhone OS’ installed. It does so much more than the other iPods, yet it limited by them at the same time. But it is not a phone so it doesn’t fit in the iPhone family … but there is a new family that it does fit with. The iPad family … and I can hear you “there is no iPad family there is just the iPad”.
Keep in mind that Apple recently dropped the number from the iPad name, essentially rebranding it as just the “iPad”. Lot of questions as to why. The simple answer is because when you have a family of products you can version them in their names. You can’t have a new “iPad 4”, but the “iPad Mini 1” – well, you can but that is not Apple’s style. Instead I am expecting a new product line-up: the iPad (current, no changes) adding the “iPad nano” (rebranded iPod Touch), and the iPad Air (a 7.85″ model) [name stolen from Gruber].
The iPad nano will now include an option for GPS and a Data plan, will still sit at the size of the iPhone and will include many of those features. The iPad Air will be just like the iPad only slightly smaller – but I _do_ expect it to have a retina screen as will the iPad nano.
Pricing, I would expect to see the iPad nano in a range of $149 – $249, and the iPad Air $299-$499. This will overlap with the current “iPad 2” model pricing – which I don’t expect to go away – but I don’t think that will matter since it is a different model and screen size and thus a different customer.
Major other announcements, including a revamped iTunes and updated Apple TV, are coming but the Apple TV will dilute the press pages. And the updated iTunes fits more with managing content for the Apple TV than it does with the announcements today. Yes, the new iPads will dilute from the new iPhone but I believe that is a big enough to carry its own weight. The new iPad family will again push the market outside the bounds being defined by Google, Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft – all of who are just getting products out to meet what Apple has today. This throws them off stride again and one more forces them to be playing catch-up.
Also, the iPod Touch is considered 4th generation … take a look at that invite again 🙂
Side note: The iPhone 3GS is also a dead product, replaced by the iPhone 4 which will bring all phones to retina screens.