Apple’s 2021 product roadmap

Photo by Przemyslaw Marczynski on Unsplash

HomePod & Apple TV merge to become Apple HomePod TV

Why it makes sense:

  • Both run on older Apple A series chips that are becoming dated and are due for an upgrade.
  • HomePod is already awkwardly categorised under both TV and Music on Apple’s website, so Apple recognises these products have a natural fit as home devices.
  • Apple TV (hardware device) vs Apple TV 4K (hardware device) vs Apple TV+ (streaming service) is clunky brand architecture due for renovation.
  • HomePod is a high quality speaker and could make sense as an alternative to TV sound bars.
  • Siri, while improving, remains a distant third in the voice assistant category. Connecting HomePod to a TV will give it an alternative visual user interface to use when Siri fails users.
  • Along with a bump up in processing power, the merged HomePod TV would become a casual home gaming platform to rival Nintendo Switch and provide a more compelling offer for Apple Arcade / Apple One subscribers.
Photo by T. Q. on Unsplash

M1 iMacs

Why it makes sense:

  • Apple has already announced it will be moving its Macs to its own chips.
  • Moving to a new processor is hard.
  • Making a new processor is hard.
  • Apple will stabilise the Mac range on M1 chips before launching the M2… or M1XS Plus Pro Max, whatever they decide to call it.
Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

iPhones culled

Why it makes sense:

  • Prior to becoming CEO of Apple, Tim Cook came from the operations world. He gets that more SKUs = more problems.
  • 2020 saw more colours, more sizes, more parts, more price points, more variance. Those options are great for customers in the short term (customers can maximise their satisfaction) and bad in the long term (products go end of life or receive reduced updates due to lack of hardware and cost to support).
  • Expect an iPhone portfolio simplification in 2021.
Photo by Julian O'hayon on Unsplash

Apple One adds an Apple VPN service

Why it makes sense:

  • Apple has sought to differentiate itself from other ‘Big Tech’ companies on the basis of privacy.
  • Apple’s premise is that because it sells products (iPhones, Macbooks) to customers rather than selling users’ attention (Facebook, Youtube) and intents (Google, Amazon) to advertisers, Apple is best placed to offer a pro-privacy products that serve you.
  • Using a virtual private network (VPN), is an often recommended, but widely under utilised privacy tool for individuals when using the internet.
  • While Apple could build this in to its Safari web browser, similar to Opera, making this a paid VPN service that operates at the device rather than the browser level would better fit with the company’s product position and services strategy.
  • Mozilla, who make the Firefox web browser and have similarly sought to boast their privacy credentials, have already made a similar move by launching their US$4.99/month Mozilla VPN in the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.
  • An Apple VPN would strengthen the privacy divide between it and other tech giants.

There won’t be an Apple car in 2021 (or this decade)

Why it makes sense:

  • Building cars is hard and expensive, meaning failure is slow and costly.
  • Apple has working relationships with existing successful auto makers that see its technology deployed in vendor vehicles.
  • Contribution margins on consumer vehicles are low compared to Apple’s.
  • Apple’s growth strategy is directed towards subscription services (Music, News+, TV+, Fitness, Arcade, iCloud, One), financial services (Pay, Card) and the products that support them.
  • The company’s hope is for a virtuous cycle of customer retention where users buy Apple products to access Apple services and use Apple services because they bought an Apple product.
  • A car is a large, expensive, hard to make, hard to distribute, infrequently purchased, low margin product with after-market servicing challenges that doesn’t fit with the company’s strategy.
  • While the artist impressions will continue to drive clickbait, don’t expect an Apple car any time this decade.
Photo by Susan Duran on Unsplash

No Apple Glasses in 2021

Why it makes sense:

  • Siri is (generously) the third best voice assistant currently in the market.
  • A glasses based product is likely to be heavily reliant on voice for user interaction.
  • Siri is barely ready to be the primary user interface of your HomePod.
  • Siri is not ready to be the primary user interface of a device you wear on your face.
  • Apple already has a discrete display offering for notifications and wearable audio assistant, Apple Watch and AirPods.

That’s it

Thanks for reading, please do let me know why these predictions are all wrong and wishing you a happy 2021!

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