What’s next for Apple? My guess:

It has happened before. Apple has released a new product line and the stock price is going down a bit. These days, following the iPad Mini Special Event, the stock price is sinking just like that but a lot more than usual. Mostly, because Apple is sending mixed signals. Sure, the iPad mini is selling like crazy, 3 million units in three days, but that doesn’t count enough. Read more about those signals at Business Insider: Scott Forstall was fired, customers aren’t upgrading as quickly as they used to, Android is vastly outpacing iOS, Apple missed the iPad sales goal and so on and so on. People are leaving Apple products, once a lovebrand, for greener pastures.

The first thing that seems to be on everybody’s mind of course is that Apple without Steve Jobs is losing it. “Maps would never have shipped under Jobs.” “All product lines are now updated at the same time which means there is a 6-9 months window without a big bang.”

Well, this is not going to be a fan boy post, but I don’t see it as black as e.g. Nils Jacobsen writing for Manager Magazin. Yes, FaceTime was probably not the best way to spend money and resources and maps could have used a bit more time (after all, the Google contract was valid for another year). But there is more than the stock market. The company is still growing. The growth trajectory was bound to decrease, this shouldn’t really surprise anybody. Apple is still selling product like crazy, so fast in fact that the manufacturer Foxconn has problems keeping up. And so what if Android is growing faster at the moment, Apple at the moment still has the after sales market meaning the App Store that is generating much more revenue than Google’s Play Store.
Also, I belong to the group of people who thinks that Apple Maps isn’t all that bad. Sure, there seem to be some funny images and parts where the data isn’t as detailed yet, but so far when I was using it: Rock solid and the tin lady giving me directions? Wonderful. Finally hands-free driving again.

But the truth is, there is indeed an empty window coming up. What is Apple going to launch in the next 6 months? I think they have a couple of things on their sleeves. The first guess is the much talked about Apple TV. Will that come? My guess is yes. After the Isaacson Steve Jobs biography quite a few pundits had projected it for February of this year (2012). I think Apple is working on it and with the same intensity and secrecy they were working on the iPhone in 2007.

Secondly, I think Apple’s music offering needs a huge rework and I can imagine they are working on that. Will that be a revolution? There is potential I think. First off iTunes is heavily outdated and no longer adept for the landscape now compared to what it was 10 years ago when it launched. Syncing over several devices, different formats, several accounts, iTunes Match – at the moment this is not a good user experience and if Apple were to reinvent it to the point of “it just works” again you suddenly have a selling point back. In addition, Apple’s status with labels at the moment put it into a great position to solve the streaming business as well. Maybe they buy Pandora or Spotify and enable logging in and payment with Apple credentials.

I have read speculation that Apple would come out with a fitness device but I don’t think so. It’s too small and would undermine the relation with Nike and Nike+. If Apple were to enter the health market they would go bigger. Rather than that I think search and video are two areas where one could look. Google is concentrating on other important areas and has managed to finagle around with their search experience enough so that it is still dominant but not as dominant as it used to be – market share is dropping a bit. Maybe this is a good time to try to make a dent there.

I don’t think that a watch will be the solution, another rumor I have seen. There have been two successful Kickstarter projects in that area and the smartphone has become the watch replacement for many people – I don’t think that the “phone in watch”-product has enough legs to follow in the footsteps of the iPhone.

To conclude I think two things are necessary: Cut the nonessential. Follow out to the Blue Ocean again, get rid of the clutter (like FaceTime, and please let me decide whether I want the stocks app). Secondly, I think they’ll make a big splash. Like buy Square for example. Or, wait for it, the new MySpace if that turns out any good. And thirdly, just one more thing, there will be a new product. But I don’t know what it is yet 😉

Now please rip me.

Subject: Why is the iTunes Store so little optimized to sell? and so little for not downloading?

Hi Steve,

I’ll keep the intro short: PowerBook G4, White MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPhone 3, 3GS, iPods… iPad: for sure!

I actually buy quite some music and TV shows in the iTunes Store. And I wonder: Why is it so, well, 1999? The only thing it seems to remember is my name. Certainly not my previous purchases. If it did, it would tell me at login that there is a new episode of House ready to download. It should do that whether I have a season pass or buy every single episode.
You know which music I buy – why don’t you automatically show me new releases? Why does the Genius feature not work on your end and present me with “you might like to listen to this too.” It doesn’t have to be on my machine, could be in the cloud and thus much faster. I would probably purchase even more…

Do you know what the worst part of buying TV shows at the Store is? The ever-returning Downloads which I can’t delete.
Example: I bought season 1 of West Wing and later got the DVD box set. Obviously, I didn’t need to download all episodes. But that is what the Store intends me to do every time I purchase something. A year later still, because it won’t start downloads in reverse chronological order as it should, but chronologically. To make matter worse, I got How I met your mother Season 4 which had Standard D and HD for one price. I only downloaded one definition yet, but iTunes Store wants me to download the rest.
Which means that every time I buy a new TV show the Store automatically starts downloading old West Wing episodes. To-be-downloaded-items that I can’t permanently delete. Do you really want me to download 20 GBs just to get rid of this?

Still, looking forward to the iPad…
sebastian

iTunes 9 Killer-Feature: Comments on podcasts

In yet another revolution, Apple grabs “podcasts” forever with integrated comments.
Whether you call it ‘podcast’, ‘vidcast’, ‘vlog’  or video show, Apple one-upped competing podcathers with one new feature in iTunes 10. Publishers can now connect their blogs with the iTunes Store and let the audience comment from iTunes, without them ever having to visit the publishers site.

Research has shown that a lot of podcast viewers still do so at their computers. Now they won’t even have to leave the iTunes application to interact with the content providers. They can input their comments with email-address, name and text in iTunes and the information is automatically transferred to podcasts publishing site. It works the other way round, too, with iTunes being able to pull in the already present comments to a certain podcast episode, thus enabling a dialogue often lost.

//Well this is made up, iTunes 9 probably will not feature this feature. It is, however, a statement I gave in an interview at the Techcrunch Berlin MeetUp last year which unfortunately was never published. I still think it would be a killer feature, being huge for Apple directly of course, but also able to kick podcast interaction into new spheres.