7 Predictions for 2007

by Chris Seibold Nov 30, 2006

In the thirty years Apple has been around the company has released a significant product exactly once in December. The product was a replacement for the Apple III and wasn’t a carefully timed marketing move rather it was a response to problems with the original Apple III. Since nothing new is likely to come in December that means this is the perfect time to make predictions for 2007. What will Apple do? How will the moves be received? Are wild guesses just an easy way to fill up a column after Chris Howard stole my Wii thunder? Answers: not sure, no one knows and yes.

1) iPhone
Everyone who knows anything is certain that it is just a matter of time before cell phones displace the iPod. Some clearly lobotomized pretend internet writers don’t feel the same way but we have to remember, those types of people are clearly suffering from some brain eating organic malady. The techies and the futurists all see a one-device lifestyle and that device is the cell phone. Apple, the intelligent opine, is going to jump on this bandwagon and introduce a phone that is truly capable of replacing the iPod.

The hurdles are obvious. In the U.S. the phone buying experience is a moronic game of “you sign up for so long and the phone is discounted” so Apple will have trouble appealing directly to consumers. The idea that Apple will just sell a phone, a phone that the average consumer would pay a nice, undiscounted sum for and hope for success teeters on the edge of pure fantasy. That method would be the equivalent of paying for a Linux app. Sure, open source isn’t free as in beer, but in the mind of consumers it might as well be. Expect Apple and Cingular to team up and expect the iPhone to be less than it could’ve been but better than the competition.

Odds: 10 to 1

2) Macs (or OS X) will not grab over 10% Market Share

The past year has been an extremely good on for Apple. Record profits, record sales and record hipness. All that is great for business but for the market share obsessed it will make no difference. 2007 will see continued gains in the manufacturing errr, reseller category but OS X adoption will climb more slowly. Neither metric will exceed 10% though Apple will post record sales of Macs despite the market share futility.

This might come as somewhat of a surprise because Apple recently grabbed 12% of the laptop market in the U.S. so 10% would seem to be easy pickings. Remember that next year will be all about Vista, Apple will sell more computers than ever but in a Vista upgrade cycle it just won’t matter. The folks that rate Apple’s success based solely on market share will have to wait until 08 to get the 10% joy.

Odds: off

3) The Zune takes significant market share from the iPod/iTunes combo

It is “the social” it “squirts” but mostly it just is a bulkier, generally crappier iPod. The Zune was a major effort by Microsoft and was accompanied by the usual marketing onslaught. So far, well, it has been a lot of flash and very little substance. Microsoft’s new player is nice, nice enough to be the second most popular player but that is about it. The iPod/iTunes might not be the king forever but Microsoft’s Xerox machines won’t dethrone the player.

If you’re thinking that that isn’t really a prediction, it is more a restatement of current events you’re right. On the other hand, Microsoft isn’t going to sit still. The Redmond marketing machine will roll out new and better Zunes. In the olden days this would be plenty to catch Apple but Apple will keep the iPod fresh and Microsoft will be chasing a moving target. In short, Zune 2.0 won’t fare any better than Zune 1.0.

Odds: 1-100

4) Leopard Shows no new tricks

When Steve Jobs demoed Leopard he said some features would remain under wraps. Nothing fires up the Apple fandom like saying “we’ve got more, but it’s a secret.” Thus people went nuts. What could the secret features be? The ability to run Windows Apps without a copy of Vista? The ability to program once and distribute to Windows, OS X and Linux? Every time you buy something on eBay Steve Jobs’ account is debited? No feature is too outlandish and no speculation can be easily dismissed.

There is, of course, the third option. The secret features might be secret simply because they weren’t ready to go during the Leopard preview. It could easily be that the features are moderately interesting but far from revolutionary. It doesn’t really matter because when Steve gets around to revealing the breathlessly anticipated features he will make them seem revolutionary even if they are nothing more than a set of new screensavers.

odds: 50-50

5) The Apple PDA

Hardcore Apple fans remember the Newton. The Newton was Apple’s “revolution” after the Mac and the company managed to avoid a lot of the missteps it made with the Mac with the Newton. The unfortunate thing was Apple also missed a lot of the things it got right with the Mac with the Newton. Hence, the Newton failed mister able. (Newton joke, move on).

Oddly enough, Newton lovers still walk the face of the planet. They are rarer than lowland Gorillas or Javan Rhinos yet, unlike a valid reason to play the lottery, they exist. Imagine their disappointment when they learn Apple is jumping back into the PDA game but the PDA part is just the software for the previously predicted iPhone. Steve Jobs said it best when he noted that all the functions of a PDA were headed for the cell phone when asked about an Apple PDA.in the end, the functionality (and then some) of the original Newton or the most modern phones PDAs will exist but Newton fans won’t be happy.

odds: 10 to 1

6) Major PowerBook redesign

The aluminum clad Mac Book Pro née PowerBook design is Apple’s longest lived design. If you take a look at the very first revision and the current model you’ll note subtle changes but nothing that really grabs you. One would think that company that prides its self on clever industrial styling and continual struts on the red carpet that is coolness would be ready to chuck the aluminum rectangle out of the window and replace the design with something jaw droppingly cool.

Well, you would think that except Steve Jobs called the design “perfect” and asserted that there was no possible better design. That is an example of spin. The truth is that Apple has been distracted by the transition to Intel and the success of the iPod. The time is more than right for a redesign. Carbon fiber shell? Improved Keyboard? Super slick polymer case? You can never guess where Apple’s designs are heading but a redesign is coming.

Odds: 4 to 1

7) The true video iPod doesn’t appear

Predicting the emergence of a true video iPod is much like predicting the eventual explosion of the sun. If you predict it long enough it will either happen or you’ll die. Either way you’re off the hook.

In favor of the video iPod we have Apple selling movies and videos via iTunes. Add to that the current iPod screen is woefully small for viewing said miracles of video content and the course seems clear. Belay that order! Video watching is a surprisingly sparingly used feature of the iPod so the demand for a mostly video iPod just isn’t there. Of course, you can play the video content on the iPod on our TV but Apple has a preannounced product dedicated to that purpose. With these factors in mind, and peoples increasing hunger for large screens, the true video iPod seems to be less of a stone cold lock and more of something Apple might do if they get around to it. Expect no true video iPod, iPod’s are aimed at music listeners, that won’t change unless there is a huge up tick in the number of movies Apple sells or the number of people who actually use the iPod to watch movies.

Odds: 2 to 1

Enough of that twaddle, making predictions is just a time wasting, column filling exercise if one is scared to review last year’s predictions. So how did the predictions made last year hold up? A quick list reveals all:

From 2006

Five thing that will happen:

1) iBooks show up without FireWire. Wrong!
2) Apple Movie Store. Correct!
3) Everything but Xserve powered by Intel. Mostly right!
4) Apple Branded PVR Wrong!
5) A true video iPod Wrong!

Five things that won’t:

1) The Apple phone. Correct!
2) Mass pirating of OS X Correct!
3) Apple getting over ten percent of the computing market Correct!
4) A trouble free initial release of new Intel Macs Correct!
5) Much Lower Mac Prices Correct!

Last year’s batting average? .700 not bad.


  • Apple has to come out with an iPhone/iPod combination. It’s the only way to protect it’s market position in music players. Even if it’s a high end offering of $500-$650. Working on GSM of course

    Otherwise people are going to learn how to make do with there phones that play a 1000 songs, and not bother with an iPod at all.

    mozart11 had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 35
  • Forget a few?

    Core2Duo in Mac Mini
    Core2Quad in iMac
    PowerMac 8 Core 2.66-3.26ghz
    iTV renamed iEnlighten
    Apple HD LCD TV’s with iTV built in 37”-50”
    iPod/iPhone/iPersonal (PDA) all in one device the size of the current iPod video models.

    xwiredtva had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 172
  • Oh forgot about one little feature of the iDevice… Instead of beaming wirelessly a proprietary music file to another crappy player within 30’.

    I’ll be able to send a music file playable on most poly phones to a freind 6000 miles away and he can play it all he wants… However quality is degraded to make it packable and playable on his phone…. Kinda like sending Photo’s but it’s music.

    GOT IT!

    xwiredtva had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 172
  • Did you mean to say “in the 30 years… Apple has ONLY ONCE released a significant product in December”

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 228
  • A point of interest about selling phones. I know in the US you get a phone locked to a carrier with a contract. Further, it’s customised to have carrier specific functions, and can be exclusively put on one network (to entice interested users across).

    In Australia we sometimes get that. More often we get an unlocked phone that’s subsidised on a 24 month contract. The phone works anywhere (but if you’re locked into a $70/mth contract you’re unlikely to use it on a different network when you have to keep paying your $70/mth!). At the end of 24months you can use it anywhere (if it’s a robust phone and still works!).

    It’s quite possible for Apple to release a phone on multiple networks with the same functions on whatever network. The networks can still subsidise the phone, and if they want could have custom themes (wallpaper etc) for themselves. The networks won’t want that - an exclusive iPhone would be a major coup - but the business model is quite doable.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 228
  • No more predictions from me. I’ll wait for Macworld for my answers.

    Robomac had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 846
  • iGame… , Apple will get on the game bandwagon to make game console to compete with Sony PS3 and Microsoft Xbox.

    Caphesua had this to say on Dec 01, 2006 Posts: 1
  • RE: #4. I can see a scenario where SJ held back on the Leopard preview due to the imminent release of Vista. Chances are those features probably weren’t ready at preview time as well. I can see a possible game plan here: Vista will be released and then Leopard can outshine Vista after the years of work put into it.

    MacNuggets had this to say on Dec 01, 2006 Posts: 17
  • It’s interesting that you used a metric that considers a 30% success rate as superior to be your measurement analogy. By the most common measurements, you would get a C for your 2006 predictions.

    Darryl had this to say on Dec 25, 2006 Posts: 1
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