While Monday’s keynote may have given everyone in Cupertino a small moment of pause to appreciate their creation, Tuesday morning they were back at work on Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next products. If Apple sticks to their usual release schedule, the next event we can look forward to is an iPod announcement some time in September and after that an iPad event in January. Invariably, there will also be some minor releases and upgrades between now and then as back to school shopping picks up in August. Now that we’ve had a couple of days to bask in the glow of the iPhone 4, let’s look ahead.
So what then is next from Apple? There are lots of rumors and expected products in the pipeline but what has the best chance of seeing the light of day? The following is a brief rundown of what we can expect in the coming months:
- iPod Touch – If history is any guide, the release of the iPhone 4 should herald a new iPod Touch release at the September event. We can be assured the new Touch will take the same basic body and design cues as the new smartphone. A camera in the new Touch is also a given. For reasons that may never be known, the camera was yanked out of the third generation iPod Touch announced last year. Perhaps it was a hardware problem, perhaps it was a supply problem; nothing was ever officially acknowledged. At the bare minimum, the fourth generation Touch will have the sensor found in the iPhone 3GS and at best the 5MP sensor recently introduced in the iPhone 4. My bet would be on the lower resolution sensors since the supply chain is in place and Apple wouldn’t want to impinge on the supply of new cameras to the iPhone 4. Regardless, a camera will be a welcome addition. We should also see the new Touch retain many of the new Apple internals like the A4 processor that now powers the iPad and iPhone 4. The one thing I doubt the new Touch will have is the forward facing camera and FaceTime application. During the keynote Jobs may an oblique reference to 10 million devices being FaceTime capable by the end of the year. Some have speculated this might mean he expects that many iPhones to sell well others say he meant he expects universal adoption of Apple’s new standard. What ever he might of meant, I don’t think he meant the iPod Touch. Apple likes to keep the Touch just hobbled enough that anyone on the fence will buy an iPhone instead of a Touch.
- Apple TV – Although I didn’t really expect the new Apple TV to be announced on Monday, I did have an irrational hope it would. A streaming Apple TV for $99 USD has the potential to blow the doors off the competition. Not necessarily because it brings anything new to the technology table, Boxee and Roku are already well entrenched in the market, but because of the size of Apple’s content library. The real genius of a streaming model over a local storage scheme is that your purchases are readily available from any connection on the planet. If the new Apple TV is indeed as small as an iPhone or Touch, you could disconnect and take it with you where ever you go. As long as you were within the range of an accessible Wi-Fi signal, you could watch your content. No more lugging around a laptop or media computer. Since Apple TV has always been lumped in with the iPod end of Apple, I expect we should see the new Apple TV in September at the iPod event. A well positioned and affordably priced streaming solution from Apple should sell like hot cakes during the Christmas shopping season.
- iTunes – Again, the irrationally hopeful part of my mind wished for streaming iTunes content to be announced on Monday even when the rational part of my mind knew otherwise. Streaming iTunes content is coming, the LaLa purchase confirms that. With no real impetus to rush to market, Apple is taking its time to perfect the product. Due to the connection with iPods and Apple TV, look for this announcement to finally hit the streets in September as well. Apple is ready to move into the cloud and revolutionize content consumption once more.
- Magic Trackpad – Everyone hanging out at a gadget blog or Apple rumor site on Monday saw this little beauty. Unless this is an amazing KIRF or Chinese knock-off, look for the Magic Trackpad to make an appearance some time between now and the Christmas season. It is the perfect input device for any Apple owner, iPad or Mac alike. If this is an Apple product it is coming. Soon.
- iPad – Is it insane we’re discussing new iPads already? This is on the far end of the spectrum but most certainly in the pipe. The most obvious upgrades for the next iteration of the iPad is the front facing camera and FaceTime. If video chat really takes off with the iPhone look for it to become an almost ubiquitous feature on every portable Apple device. In some ways, the iPhone 4 will be the real world test bed for the new feature. Lessons learned from it will be applied to the next iPad and so on through the product lines. If it doesn’t become a popular feature, Apple may just bury it like they did with the current line of Apple TV. My sense though is that we’ll see a lot of new iPhone owners walking around with their new devices pointed at their face so look for this in the new iPad. Otherwise, about the only other features I could see added to a new iPad are increased storage and lower price points.
In any other company, the iPhone would have been the culmination of effort that required rest and recuperation. To Apple it is a product among many interconnecting and interdependent projects. While the iPhone is the end of one of these projects, you can bet the iPhone development team is busy at work today on the next iteration as are their R&D colleagues. I’m looking forward to what the rest of the year brings from Apple as they continue to consistently produce great consumer electronics.
Do you have any predictions for the next Apple products? Is there something in particular you’d like to see in the coming months? New iPod Touch? New Apple TV? Leave us your thoughts.
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