So I’m reading my own goosebumps and tea leaves, here’s what my purely-conjecture product announcements for the holiday season will be:
In September Apple will announce an update to the Apple TV that will make it a full-fledged media server, available in the same 1TB / 2TB combos that we now see for Time Capsule, along with content agreements with Big Media to bring more television shows to the iTunes store. Apple will position itself as Cable 2.0. This would also be where we see a Netflix app debuted, if there is to be one.
To coincide with an Apple Media Server, the iTunes program and store will be rebranded to reflect the ubiquity of what iTunes does nowadays. It’s so far away from music now, playing movies, syncing mobile devices, managing and distributing Apps from the App store… it should have been renamed a long time ago. I don’t know what that would be, but I can’t see Apple releasing an iTunes Media Server.
The artist-formerly-known-as-iTunes will get a makeover to interoperate better with multiple devices in the home. It’ll be more optimized for server/client operations. Mac computers would get instant access across wifi to the AppleTV Media Server, with the option to sync selectively or entirely to the computer (essentially turning the Mac into a giant iPod) or, if the user is a Mobile Me member, access the media across the Internet.
Updates to the iMac lines in October maybe to bring them up to speed with i5 processors and Unibody enclosures.
The iTablet will surface, being powerful enough to run a suite of productivity apps, including iWork, as well as have carrier-neutral 3G Internet access, a stylus to allow the user to take notes on the device, be optimized to display textual content (eBooks), and play true HD video. It may re-invent the brand by being labeled “iBook.” Probably not, though, since Apple tends to look forward and not backward. It’ll run iPhone apps and will heavily focus on developers tying the device into third party hardware. Apple will use an app developer that has been secretly working on a home automation system to showcase the environment in a demo on stage. The highlight will be pressing a button to turn down the lights in the house, kick the air conditioning up a notch, turn on the television, and, using the Tablet as a glorified remote, begin a movie playing. Plus lots of other industry-redefining stuff that Apple tends to do and nobody sees coming.
MobileMe will get a significant capacity bump and will gain the ability to sync only the changed parts of a file, rather than the entire file. It’ll be promoted heavily with the iTablet/iBook/Tablet Mac as a solution to keep one’s computing environment consistent across the entire spectrum from the living room to the office.
Early next year, Apple will introduce updated notebooks with 3G internet connectivity to catch them up with the Tablet, and add more powerful i5 processors.
Sometime between April and June, updated iLife and iWork editions will emerge and fully 64 bit solutions that take advantage of the Snow Leopard features. Seeking to increase the validity of iWork in a mixed office environment, Apple will either make OOXML the default format (as much as I’d like them to go ODF instead, it wouldn’t make much market sense for them to do that) or will release a version of iWork for Windows. The gauntlet will fully be thrown against the costlier Microsoft Office on Microsoft’s home turf.
Finally, in 2012 Apple will reveal what it’s been working on with the billions it’s had in the coffers: a spherical space station the size of a small moon, called the iBall, that it will use to quash the rebel alliance once and for all. It will destroy the earth on December 21 of that year.