Yesterday we found out that the iPhone 3G was subsidized, for sure this time, and with that we know that when the next iPhone comes out everyone who buys the iPhone 3G will not be able to purchase it at its lowest price. Before the iPhone 3G was announced I predicted that their wasn’t going to be another iPhone until next year (I was really just doing some wild speculation and clearly it was a little miss guided) but, this time I think it is possible that we won’t see a new iPhone for another 2 years.
The iPhone 3G has everything you could want in a phone, GPS, 3G, good battery life, a (fairly) decent camera, and a good SDK so why would we need a new one before all of the iPhone 3G contracts run out? I truly think that (just like Snow Leopard) Apple is going to spend the next two years building out and refining the platform and software for the platform, and of course, lowering the price even more. I don’t think it would be a very smart move for Apple to release a new iPhone next year and all of those who purchased the iPhone 3G (if they wanted to upgrade) would have to pay $399 for the new one. It would be much smarter if Apple improved the software experience on the iPhone and waited 2 years to release a new device.
So then I started thinking about what Apple could possibly be up to in the next 1-2 years. It’s clear (to me at least) that Apple will only be doing software improvements to the iPhone and iPod Touch, possibly also making it cheaper. The traditional iPods will most likely just be getting hardware makeovers. And, OS X won’t be getting any user focused features in this next version, Snow Leopard.
So, what does that leave us with, Mac hardware, the AppleTV, and other software. It is very reasonable to think that Apple could have a major redesign of one or more of their Macs in the next couple of years, the notebooks have looked basically the same for about 5 years or so, they’re hasn’t been much change in the Mac Pro since the G4’s, the Mac Mini has stayed practically the same since it had a G4 processor in it, and they’re has only been slight improvements in the iMac design.
The AppleTV just got a new software update earlier this year so unless they release an SDK for it or redesign it there isn’t much to do there.
The final piece of the puzzle is Apple’s non-OS software. There has been no mention of a new version of iLife or iWork but what I’m going to speculate on is the idea that Apple would release these two software suites for Windows. Apple has already released, Quicktime, iTunes, and Safari for Windows, so why not the rest of their software? Many people that I talk to wish that their was equivilent software suites on Windows but no one has really released one that is very good and Apple is someone that could do that.
Many people believe that it would be smart for Apple to release OS X for regular PCs and although in terms of making money they would probably start raking in cash but in a very short period of time the experience of a Mac would become less and less favorable to those who enjoy it today. The OS would end up getting buggy because of all of the hardware that it would need to run on, Apple would no longer control that hardware the way that they do today. And, with the movement of applications from the desktop to the browser the OS is going to be less and less relevant in the coming years.
I think Apple has a good road ahead of them but I’m worried that they might not have much left up their sleeve. I’ll leave you with one last thought, is Steve Jobs trying to wrap all of the current projects up for retirement, getting all of the products to places where he would feel comfertable finally leaving the company?