) innovation is sputtering," Trip Chowdhry, the Managing Director
of Equity Research at Global Equities Research, proclaimed
. "Why is [it] that Apple, the company that brought touch to
phones and tablets, stopped just there and did not bring touch to
notebooks and iMacs? Why is it that Apple brought high-resolution
screens to…some MacBooks and not to all devices? High-resolution
screens are a commodity today." Chowdhry was providing a response
to the company's first full year without Steve Jobs. He took
issue with the departure of Scott Forstall, the former senior VP
"Our contacts speculate that Apple executive leadership may
have rushed Scott Forstall to deliver products prematurely," said
Chowdhry. "This may also indicate that Apple may be lacking a
three- to four-year product road map, because if a roadmap
existed, engineers would not be pushed to ship products
prematurely -- especially when they are not fully tested."
Chowdhry's comments spark an interesting debate about where
Apple is headed over the next few years. During the company's
most recent press events, senior executives unveiled a host of
new products -- new iPads, new iMacs, new MacBook Pros and a
refreshed Mac Mini. It was enough to make even the most
optimistic analyst wonder if the company had saved anything for
the next two quarters.
Apple has gone all-in, pleasing some with its revised iMac
(which incorporates the unique and promising Fusion Drive
concept) while disappointing others with a fourth-generation iPad
that some believe came too soon. Whatever the case, Apple seems
to be on a mission to sell as many products as possible this
Still, it is not unreasonable for Chowdhry to question why
Apple is not doing more.
In all fairness, it may be too soon for the company to bring
the Retina Display to all of its devices without raising the
prices too high. Chowdhry knows this better than anyone. In June,
he estimated that if Apple made a Retina Display television
today, it would retail for a
bare minimum of $25,000
. He also said that the price of Retina Displays should go down
over the next five to seven years.
for Apple's four-year cycle. The company does not need to build a
TV yet, but it does need to incrementally update its product
line. Apple could have gone ahead and added the Retina Display to
its iMacs. But if it had, the starting price would have been a
bit higher than $1,299. During a bad economy, this would have
made it harder for Apple to sell the computer.
That was only one reason for Apple to wait, however. By
postponing the Retina Display another year, it gives Apple
another hyping point for the next iMac refresh.
The same goes for any addition that people have been waiting
for, including touch. Right now, Apple can afford to wait on this
feature. It may risk a lot in the process (if Windows 8 takes
off, Microsoft (NASDAQ:
) could reduce Apple's market share), but that is a risk Apple is
willing to take. In doing so, it ensures that the iPad -- which
is already in the hands of 100 million consumers -- will continue
iPad sales will come to a screeching halt the moment that
Apple starts to add touch screens to the Mac platform. In doing
so, the MacBook Air could quickly and easily become an incredible
iPad-killer. It would be a lot more expensive than the iPad, but
it would also allow users to do so much more than they can with a
tablet. Instead of buying an iPad and a MacBook, consumers would
simply buy a MacBook.
Apple does not want to exist in a world where people lose
interest in iDevices. It is not enough for consumers to upgrade
their iPhones annually. Apple wants the world to own and
frequently upgrade every product it manufactures.
By stretching out the release schedule of its products, and by
stretching the time in between important upgrades, the company
hopes that it can continue to earn record-breaking profits.
Thus, the next 12 months should involve the following product
- iPad Mini with Retina Display.
- iPhone 5 tweaks with a faster processor, new camera
gimmicks, a new version of Siri and a revised Maps app.
- MacBook Air with Retina Display
- An enhanced Apple TV.
In 2014, Apple fans can expect another slate of upgrades:
- iMac with Retina Display
- A smaller Mac Mini
- A standalone Retina Display for pro users who want an extra
screen (this will be the company's first true step into the
world of TV manufacturing, but it won't actually be a TV).
- Sixth-generation iPad with a larger display (like the iPad
Mini, the screen will go almost all the way to the edge).
- iPhone 6
- Another enhanced Apple TV -- this time with a new user
interface, and maybe a new remote control.
By 2015, Apple should be ready to release the following
- Another iteration of the iPhone 6.
- Retina Displays will come to all of the company's devices
(if they haven't already).
- iPad Mini will receive its first significant overhaul.
- One or more iPod iterations will be eliminated because of
lagging sales (by 2015, everyone who wants an iPod Touch will
probably have one) and because Apple wants users to buy the
iPad Mini instead.
- The MacBook Pro will receive a slight (but somewhat
significant) overhaul that makes it nearly as thin as the
- Apple TV will begin to transform into a home gaming
In 2016, Apple will release yet another slate of upgrades:
- The company will introduce its "lightest and most powerful
MacBook yet" (that's a paraphrase of the quote Tim Cook is
likely to utter during a press event).
- iPhone 7 will receive a surprisingly significant
- Mac OS will receive a tweak that seems to make it
touch-friendly, hinting at the future.
- Solid state drives will be cheap enough for Apple to
abandon the Fusion Drive concept, enabling the company to build
its "fastest iMac yet" (another anticipated quote).
- All remaining iDevices -- iPad, iPad Mini, iPod, etc., will
receive minor upgrades.
- Apple will upgrade Apple TV with high-end graphics
processors, allowing it to power next-gen video games from
Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:
) and Activision (NASDAQ:
). The company will hold itself back, however, by insisting
that it does not need to build an actual game controller. This
will inspire hundreds of manufacturers to fill the void with
their own gamepads, most of which will turn out to be
(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.