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2015 Apple Predictions

Like many, I like to make a few predictions for the coming year as to what I think will happen in the Apple eco-system. So, for better or worse, here they are:

My 2015 Apple Predictions:

1)  4.7" iPhone 6s and 5.5" 6s Plus - Will be introduced in September. Duh! Priced at a subsidized $199/$299 as the current versions, but "hopefully" with the starting storage of 32GB (but I'm not holding my breath on that). The "big" changes will be: (1) a rear camera capable of supporting 4K/5K video; (2) an improved "selfie" camera, hopefully capable of full HD video; (3) an 3rd generation 64 bit A9 processor built on a 14nm CMOS process, which will further improve the battery life while providing even better performance; (4) a sapphire screen "may" make a "surprise" appearance; (5) an "all bands" cell phone Qualcomm chip that will mean a single SKU "world phone" making one phone that works on all carriers and makes iPhone inventory management much better for Apple; (6) 450 MB/S download speed Qualcomm chipset for mind-blowing download speeds that puts typical 25MB/S cable download performance to shame; (7) Two front-facing speakers (ala HTC One) to finally get "stereo" onto the iPhone (OK, this may not happen until the 2016 iPhone, but we can all dream right?)

2)  4" iPhone iPhone 6 or 6s Mini (?) (5s replacement) - This iPhone will replace the iPhone 5s with a 4" screen , new "metal" body and with the 2014 iPhone 6 internal hardware (A8 processor, 2nd generation Touch ID) and be sold at a subsidized $99 price point, targeting those with smaller hands and/or smaller iPhone budgets, but who want a near state-of-the-art iPhone. Only a 32GB (or god forbid 16GB) priced at $99 and (maybe) a 64GB ($149/$199 subsidized) storage option will be offered.  (Ideally the "metal" 4" iPhone would get the same internals as the 2015 6s/6s Plus, but Apple has a multi-year contract to buy A8 chips from TSMC and Samsung, and they don't want to keep the 2014 4.7" and 5.5" iPhones around in late 2015 to cannibalize the newer 2015 models, while meeting those A8 production purchase requirement.)

3)  4" Plastic iPhone 6c  - (iPhone 5c replacement) The iPhone 5c will get an internals upgrade to the internals in the 2013 iPhone 5s (A7 processor but with 2nd generation Touch ID) at a subsidized $0 price point, targeting the so-called 3rd world and very budget minded consumers. The "plastic" iPhone will stay as Apples $0 subsidized "Apple Ecosystem Entry Point". New colors schemes with only 32GB or (god forbid 16GB) storage option will exist.

4)  iPad Mini 4 (7.9" with Retina) - After the minimal 2014 "update", the iPad Mini will get the 2014 A8X processor available in the 2014 iPad Air 2, 2nd Generation Touch ID and a 32GB starting storage option (not 16GB we hope), along with 64GB and 128GB options, at a $399 starting price. The 32 bit A5 processor, non-Retina iPad Mini will be dropped by Fall 2015, possibly replaced by the 64bit A7 processor iPad Mini 3 with Touch ID and 16GB storage as the entry level 7.9" iPad Mini at $299 with only black and silver color options.

5)  iPad Air 3 (9.7") - Will see the same A9 processor as in the 2015 4.7"/5.5" iPhones (not a A9x) and a 32GB starting storage option (not 16GB we hope), along with 64GB and 128GB options, at a $499 starting price. It may also get the necessary hardware to act as a register waypoint for stores, but that is doubtful. The 32 bit A6 processor, Retina iPad 4 will be dropped by Fall 2015, possibly replaced by the iPad Air (1) with 2nd Generation Touch ID at 16GB storage for the entry level 9.7" iPad Air at $399 with only black and silver color options.

6)  iPad Air "Plus/Pro" (12.2" or 12.9") - The so called "bigger" iPad will appear, with much smaller bezels that even the iPad Air 2 and possibly the same screen (with Touch added) as the "new" MacBook Air with Retina discussed above. It will also feature a larger pixel count, although what that will be is subject to conjecture at this point. This device "may" support an A9X processor to support the larger screen pixel count. This iPad will be targeted at businesses for "cash registers" as well as "artists". This iPad will include and enhanced version of iOS 9 having "split screen" and multiple Touch ID login support, required for all those possible $10/hour staffers working these iPad registers and possibly "pressure sensitive" touch panel, which would be wanted by "artists". Flash storage options are expected to be larger at 64GB/128GB/256GB at a starting price of $699, $200 higher than the 9.7" iPad Air 3 starting price.

7)  The above means that Fall 2015 will result in all the iPhones (and iPads) for sale having a 64 bit processors and 2nd generation Touch ID supporting Apple Pay, which will lead to the phase-out of 32 bit iOS support by iOS 11 (late 2017 iOS).

8)  Macbook Air with Retina - 12.9" Retina screen in chassis as small as 11.6" MBA with an even thinner body thanks to the elimination of the fan and click pad, because of lower power Intel Broadwell processors finally making their 1-1/2 year late appearance. The current 11.6" and 13.3" MBA's will continue unchanged for 2-3 more years, with another $100 to $150 lopped off the price, before eventually being dropped for the single sized 12.9" MBA with Retina. Sadly the new MBA will still be saddled with the current slower Thunderbolt 2 ports, so you will not be able to drive an external 5K monitor. Flash storage options are expected to remain the same. Introduction mid 2015.

9)  Macbook Pro - 13.3" and 15" Retinal hardware will finally get the more powerful versions of the Intel Broadwell chips slated for the MBA. These will (hopefully) be the first MacBooks to support Intel's 3rd generation Thunderbolt 3 ports, capable of driving an external 5K monitor, although based on updates to Intel's roadmap, the chipset supporting Thunderbolt 3 is "after" the Broadwell chipset, so Apple "may" delay Macbook Pro introduction until later in the year, totally skipping Broadwell for the Macbook Pro, or we may "suffer" with an inadequate Thunderbolt 2 in the Macbook Pro until 2016. Flash storage options are expected to remain the same. Introduction mid/late 2015.

10)  Mac Pro - Will get a mid to late 2015 update to the upcoming Intel next generation 6-12 core processors that will replace the current chips, along with the latest GPU from AMD. This will be the first Mac Pro to support Intel's 3rd generation Thunderbolt 3 ports, capable of driving two (2) external 5K monitors. Storage options and pricing to remain unchanged. The current model will be dropped.  Introduction late 2015.

11)  Mac Mini - Hopeful minds would say we will get an upgrade to an Intel Broadwell processor version, but I suspect this will not happen until 2016, if then. Sadly, I suspect sales on the non-upgradeable version introduced in late 2014 will be so poor, that even less effort will be placed by Apple on the next upgrade. I still suspect that the "future" Apple TV will include a "Home Server" version, which will essentially be a Mac Mini with OTA and CableTV support - That would  be the "smart play" by Apple, in my humble opinion.

12)  Apple TV - Apple's "hobby" has fallen to 3rd place in "hockey puck" sales in 2014 and will only fall further without an update to the 2012 model still being sold. Without a breakthrough with the content providers, I have a hard time seeing the next generation box being born. Confession: I became a "cord-cutter" in 2014 by buying a four tuner TabloTV DVR to watch/record "live over-the-air" HDTV which I can watch on my big screen when home or on my iPhone, iPad or an Android device from anywhere in the world.  I cut my cable bill from ~$180/month to $43/month ($30 for 50Mb/s internet, $8 for Netflix, $5 for TabloTV guide subscription = $1644/year saving!) and the only thing I've missed is some ESPN only football games and one HBO show (Game of Thrones). At least one of these (HBO) I should be able to buy an internet subscription for shortly for $10-$20/month (guessing) and the other (ESPN) may go internet subscription in 2015. If the latter doesn't, we'll just keep going out to our local sports pub to watch those key games now and are still saving a bundle!

13)  Apple Watch - Will begin shipping in March 2015 (guess), but the limited functionality will result in crashing sales after the first 2-3 months. The high price, expected less than a day battery life, and much lower priced competition will likely limit sales of the first generation device, much as the first generation iPhone was limited for similar reasons. Will likely be 2nd or 3rd generation with battery life of 5-7 days before sales really take off. Hope I'm wrong on this one as I'm developing apps for the Apple Watch!

14)  iOS 9 - With stand-alone apps support for the Apple Watch, the fall 2015 Apple iOS will (hopefully) be mostly a performance and bug fix update of iOS 8. Developers like myself, and I suspect most consumers, just want an iOS 9 that has 100% fixed iOS 8. Still a "free" upgrade.

15)  OSX 11 - Yep, another OSX update in the late fall, but again, we're hoping its just got a better working "Hand-off" integration, Mail and bug fixes. Still a "free" upgrade. 

APPLE - PLEASE JUST FOCUS 2015 ON MAKING 2014 CODE BUG FREE!

WitchAttack! My Latest FREE iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch) Game Available Now

On Monday, August 11, 2014, WitchAttack!, my latest "100% FREE" Apple iOS game, designed for the Apple iPhone (iPhone 4s or newer), iPad (iPad 2 or newer) and iPod Touch (Version 5 or newer) running iOS 7 (or newer), was released on the Apple App Store for download.

WitchAttack! is targeted to all ages and sexes and is designed to bring Tons-of-Fun in as little as 10 seconds of game play.  Designed for those situations where you may only have one-hand free to play (left or right hand) - on the bus or train, in the checkout line, carrying your baby - you just "Tilt-and-Tap" to move your main character and fire your weapon. Easy for all ages to learn and play, yet challenging to get high scores, it will become the "Go To" game when you need 10 seconds of entertainment distraction! 

Stunningly rich graphics are optimized for each Apple device screen size and deep 16-bit stereo sounds will excite all of your senses as you play the game. 

FREE BONUS: You can take a "Selfie" of your face and the app will place your headshot on the main characters shoulders, making "YOU" part of the game!

It's hard being an independent software developer, so I will really appreciate your download and a written review of WitchAttack! in the Apple App Store. Thank you in advance for your support!

Click here to go directly to iTunes and download this FREE app now - Thank You!

Meteor Attack! My 1st FREE iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch) Game Available Now

On Friday, August 8, 2014, MeteorAttack!, my 1st "100% FREE" Apple iOS game, designed for the Apple iPhone (iPhone 4s or newer), iPad (iPad 2 or newer) and iPod Touch (Version 5 or newer) running iOS 7 (or newer), was released on the Apple App Store for download.

MeteorAttack! is targeted to all ages and sexes and is designed to bring Tons-of-Fun in as little as 10 seconds of game play.  Designed for those situations where you may only have one-hand free to play (left or right hand) - on the bus or train, in the checkout line, carrying your baby - you just "Tilt-and-Tap" to move your main character and fire your weapon. Easy for all ages to learn and play, yet challenging to get high scores, it will become the "Go To" game when you need 10 seconds of entertainment distraction! 

Stunningly rich graphics are optimized for each Apple device screen size and deep 16-bit stereo sounds will excite all of your senses as you play the game. 

FREE BONUS: You can take a "Selfie" of your face and the app will place your headshot on the main characters shoulders, making "YOU" part of the game!

It's hard being an independent software developer, so I will really appreciate your download and a written review of MeteorAttack! in the Apple App Store. Thank you in advance for your support!

Click here to go directly to iTunes and download this FREE app now - Thank You!

Thoughts on Apple's Fiscal Q1 Earning Call

One thing you can pretty much "bet the bank on" is that Apple's stock in going to drop the day after any Apple's Earning Call. The call yesterday was no exception. The stock dropped over 8% in after hours trading. Why?

The "Why" is the topic of much speculation on numerous blogs, podcasts and news reports last night and today. The two top reasons seem to be the fact that Apple "only" sold 51M iPhones versus the street's estimates of around 55M. The other what that the forecast for the current quarter (Jan-Mar 2014) was lower than expected by the street. 

I believe both guesses are "true" but for a possibly a different "root" reason. 

All markets approach "saturation" at some point. Automobiles have been there for many years. TV's have been there for at least 3-5 years. As market saturation is reached several things happen. First, the number of manufacturers shrink. Think of the diminishing market presence of Motorola, HTC, Blackberry as examples. Second, the number of world wide unit shipments flatten. Worldwide smart phone unit sales from a number of analysis firms support this. Third, the usability life-span of the product being shipped gets longer and longer. Cars are now expected to be usable for 10-20 years. TV's are lasting 5-10 years. By the same token, many people who have iPhone 4s's or Samsung Galaxy S3's are still very happy with their phone and feel no need to go spend $200+ subsidized (or $600 to $900 unsubsidized) to buy the latest phone. Vendors need to supply a strong "emotional reason" to buy a new phone now. Both Apple and Samsung have so far failed to do this is a sufficiently strong manner to restore a strong upward unit growth rate for either company.

Many analysts and consumers have been unimpressed with Apple's iPhone 5, 5c and 5s. While the screen did grow from 3.5" to 4.0" from the iPhone 4s, it only grew longer, not wider. The switch to a metal back from a glass one was a positive step from a user breakage perspective and getting lighter was a nice plus, but Apples' sales would have grown overall regardless of either of these "improvements" as there were still large world-wide markets that Apple was not even selling in at the time of the iPhone 4s. 

I applauded Apple's introduction of the iPad Mini with Retina last December for one key reason. They gave me hope that they had figured what many of us already know - consumers wanted a 7.9" iPad that had "exactly" the same processor, camera and other "internals" as the larger 9.7" iPad. Consumers didn't want to "step down" in features "just because" they were buying an iPad with a smaller screen. Most HD TV's that you buy have the "same internals" and feature sets, you are just picking your preferred screen size and the manufacturer is not forcing you to give up on features based on screen size. Samsung hasn't figured this "feature parity" importance out at all from what I see in their broad phone line. If you have smaller hands, or just want a smaller 4" screen phone for whatever reason, but with the "same internals" as their larger 5" Galaxy 4s, forget it! Samsung doesn't have it to sell to you. Neither does Apple.

I am still hopeful that what we have seen Apple do with the iPad line at the end of 2013 will carry over into the 2014 iPhone line. For this to happen, Apple needs to introduce a slightly larger screened 4.5" phone (in about the same footprint as the current iPhone 5s) and a larger "Phablet-sized" iPhone at around 5.5", both with identical internals and feature sets, so users are only deciding on which screen size they prefer -  exactly as they do with the iPad Mini with Retina vs. the iPad Air.  Doing these two screen size distinct iPhones will allow Apple to add the "sweet spot" of the larger "Phablet" sized iPhone to their product portfolio that Samsung has with their Galaxy Note series, that is sorely missing from Apple now. Both of these new iPhones will give more consumers a strong emotional reason to upgrade to a new iPhone in late 2014 through 2015. If Apple doesn't, I believe iPhone unit growth will flatten further, if not outright decline, even with China Mobile.

Some people will think that I'm suggesting that Apple needs to copy Samsung. I'm definitely not as Samsung has NOT done what I am suggesting. I'm suggesting Apple be "first" in the smart phone space to duplicate what Apple was "first" in the tablet space to do - give consumers their choice of screen size WITHOUT any change in electronic internals (other than battery size) or feature set. 

What do you think Apple needs to do to return to a more rapid iPhone unit growth rate while maintaining their brand identity and margins?