How do you top a year in which you became the biggest company in the world, had the best-selling smartphone and tablet, and inspired an entire category of MacBook Air copycats called Ultrabooks? You keep pumping out hit products—while forging completely new categories.
Expect the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 to hit store shelves in 2012 (potentially in February and September, respectively). Additionally, rumors of an upcoming voice-controlled Apple iTV for Summer 2012 are growing increasingly loud.
“Apple needs to refresh [its] products,” says John Jackson, vice president of research at CCS Insight. “Every year—and it’s their own fault, really—they have to outdo themselves.”
According to its Q4 earnings, Apple raked in $28 billion revenue and $6.6 billion profit. And even though the iPhone 4S sports the same design as its predecessor, Apple sold 4 million handsets in its first weekend.
Michael Gartenberg, an analyst for Gartner, stressed that Apple’s continued success will rely on delivering a compelling user experience. “Ecosystems are important. Consumers are looking at things like services, applications, cloud functions, synchronizations.”
Details are scant, but the iPad 3 is expected to feature a class-leading 2048 x 1536-pixel display, double the iPad 2’s resolution. Also, look for a new 4G chip from Qualcomm for those models with integrated mobile broadband.
Meanwhile, rumors point to the iPhone 5 having a larger screen, multiple color options, and a 10-megapixel camera. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see a quad-core processor.
Due to the company’s secrecy about new products, it’s almost impossible to paint an accurate picture of Apple’s future. However, Jackson expects a change in design during the next year. “The iPhone is due for a design overhaul,” he said. He also acknowledged the possibility of a voice-controlled iTV, saying there was great potential to be found in Siri.
Now, Apple’s task is to continue out-innovating the competition, especially since Amazon has started to encroach on Apple’s turf with its ecosystem-centric Kindle Fire.
Gartenberg wouldn’t share any predictions, but he emphasized that Apple will continue to forge its own unique path. “The market said that the lack of Flash was a weakness for iOS devices and Apple said, ‘We don’t think it is.’ Then we saw Adobe abandon [its] mobile Flash efforts. People said Apple needed to build netbooks, and the company said it didn’t. It sort of ignores conventional wisdom.”