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Apple's next big thing might not be the stuff of rumors

Michael Simon | March 23, 2015
Apple and rumors go hand in hand. Back when I first started writing about Apple, I worked for a website called Spymac that purported to have "top secret" information about the next big things. (We didn't.) Think Secret ended up getting sued after leaking details of the original Mac mini and iWork. 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman publishes remarkably accurate reports that light up the Internet. And Crazy Apple Rumors still mocks us all.

Apple and rumors go hand in hand. Back when I first started writing about Apple, I worked for a website called Spymac that purported to have "top secret" information about the next big things. (We didn't.) Think Secret ended up getting sued after leaking details of the original Mac mini and iWork. 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman publishes remarkably accurate reports that light up the Internet. And Crazy Apple Rumors still mocks us all.

So it's no surprise that we're already on to the next one. This is how it goes in Appleland: The iPod begat iPhone rumors; iPhone begat iSlate rumors; the iPad begat iWatch rumors. But connecting the dots to the next new product category might not be so easy with Apple Watch. Sure, it's possible we may all be driving around in Apple Cars in five years, but it's equally likely that Apple's next great innovation isn't a fancy new gadget dressed in space gray aluminum or gold. In fact it might not be a piece of hardware at all.

For the past several months, Apple has been building a system of software and services that position the iPhone as the centerpiece of its universe, much like the Mac once was. The Watch is just one small piece of its overall plan — and one that we all saw coming — but Apple's next move might not be so tangible. Before we see a TV or a car or even a drone coming out of Cupertino, I think we're first going to see a dramatic augmentation of the Apple advantage that tightens the ecosystem that connects our iPhones and Apple Watches with every other screen and device in our lives.

Kit and caboodle

Since iOS 8 made its debut, Apple has been laying the groundwork for a landscape of integrated technologies. HomeKit communicates with the connected devices in our homes. HealthKit lets doctors and patients use apps and devices to share vital statistics. ResearchKit allows medical professionals to collect and study data from larger groups than ever.

With its custom heart-rate sensor and fitness-tracking capabilities, Apple Watch is the first designed-in-Cupertino device to truly take advantage of any of them, and it may be the last. It's been reported that Apple's health ambitions for the first-generation Apple Watch were much bigger, and if you listen to Tim Cook, health is clearly a major component of Apple's grand plan, telling Jim Cramer last week that the market is "probably significantly underestimated."

But I don't expect to see a full line of Apple health products anytime soon. As Apple Watch evolves, it will surely gain more sensors and a greater ability to understand our bodies, but perhaps more importantly, Apple is making it clear that it wants to become a significant player in the overall health community, and not just as a gadget maker.

 

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