iOS: We’ll see a less-expensive iPad. Apple almost has to do it, as 2012 will be the first year that the iPad will have any kind of serious competition. Amazon might ship a 10-inch Kindle Fire, but even if it doesn’t, there’s no doubt that the company will make enough improvements to the 7-inch Fire to turn it into a perceptible threat to the iPad. Meanwhile, Windows will appear on tablets of its own by late 2012. (I’ve used modern-day Windows tablets, and they’re quite nifty.) Apple has had the whole pool to itself for two years, but now the company is going to to have to prove its mettle in an open marketplace.
On the other hand, I can’t picture Apple ever making a smaller iPad. Heck, I’m not even certain the company will be willing to drop the price on whatever the “current” models is. At best, the company might cut the price in September for the holidays, and in anticipation of a serious hardware upgrade in early 2013. Otherwise, Apple will do what it’s done with the iPhone line: release new hardware and keep last year’s model (meaning the current iPad) in stores at a reduced price.
Hardware: I predict that by Valentine’s Day, I will be sick of talking about Apple-branded TV rumors. I believe that I will be asked questions about such a product in March, and in April, and in May, and by mid-year I will have lost the will to even activate a mental keyboard macro and say the same things I’ve been saying for several months now (“As usual, never believe an Apple rumor until the company has actually released the thing. I don’t immediately understand why Apple would want to do a standalone TV instead of just enhancing the Apple TV box. I suppose the real swing of this idea is in licensing deals with networks and not with hardware, per se.”). I predict that I will lean forward, bury my face in my hands, and exhale slowly; then smooth back my hair, rise back to meet the gaze of my questioner, and say “Sorry? I didn’t quite get that.”
Pie-in-the-sky wish: I’d like to see an explicit way to run full-screen Mac OS X apps on an iPad. It would use the Mac’s built-in Screen Sharing feature, with a little extra sophistication on the iPad side. Yeah, it’s a pipe dream to think that we’d ever get to run iOS apps on the Mac or vice-versa, but this would be a nice convenience for those many times when there’s just no adequate analog for a Mac app on the iPad.
Bonus predictions, because it’s Andy: I believe we’ll be seeing more of Sir Jony in 2012. Apple will find it difficult to let go of its self-image as an “auteur” company, and as an institution, I think Apple gets a sense of security from the presence of That Guy Who Totally Gets It. We won’t see His Royal J-Ness taking up Steve Jobs’s public role, but he’ll do enough on-camera interviews with mainstream news programs and other shows that he’ll become the new face of Apple. Out with one legend, in with a new one.
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