Apple Products Not Announced

I couldn’t possibly be the only one struck by the new iPod nano, released yesterday, pictured here. The old nano was more or less square, and about the size of a watch face. In fact, it looked so much like a watch face that Steve Jobs on stage suggested that people might want to make watch straps for it. And they did, many of which would up being carried by Apple’s own store. It was an extremely successful product. When they last updated the nano a year or so ago, I asked a friend what he thought the update would be, and he responded “I can’t imagine, it seems perfect as it is.” And indeed, it’s hard to imagine improving on it.

The increased size is in no way an improvement. Yes it has bluetooth, which I was hoping to get in the previous form factor. But instead they made it rectangular, like for playing video. So what’s going on?

Here’s what I think is going on. Apple is planning to release a watch, and probably an iPhone nano as well.

Let’s start with the watch, which I think is more likely. When Apple introduced the square nano and Jobs suggested it could make a nice watch, that was a trial balloon, to see what would happen. From my vantage point, it would appear to have been a successful trial balloon. Not only are there no shortage of watch bands for the nano, but there is now a newfound interest in smart watches, lead by the rather unbelievable success of the Pebble watch on Kickstarter, of which I am a backer. Clearly, there is an interest in a product like this.

One thing which struck me about the Pebble watch was this fact right here:

Android users can also receive Text Messages (SMS) on their Pebble. Unfortunately iPhone does not expose this data.

Now why would that be? My guess is that is because it’s being reserved for the actual Apple iWatch.

Tim Cook has repeatedly said that Apple would only enter a market where Apple can bring significant innovation, and which is large enough on a global scale to warrant entering. So can Apple bring innovation to the watch market? I think they can. Let’s try to figure out what features an iWatch might have:

  • Bluetooth Connectivity, to play music and stream content via the iphone which remains in your pocket, and display and dismiss text messages, calendar reminders, scroll through and view emails, and other items from your notification center
  • Local Storage to be an iPod on its own.
  • Airplay, to be able to send music out to boomboxes and the like
  • Front Facing Camera, to do Facetime over bluetooth to your iPhone
  • Accelerometer, for fitness and other items
  • NFC for payments
  • Apps, not native, but ability to interface to apps on your phone

There may be other things I’m missing. Such an item would be almost a must have for anyone currently carrying an iPhone. And even for people not carrying an iPhone, just as an iPod in a watch form factor, it would be an extremely attractive piece of electronics.

So how about the second criteria for entering a market? Is the watch market big enough for Apple to want to enter it? Well the global watch market is $46.5 billion annually. That looks big enough to me. My guess is we could see a watch announced, maybe even before the Christmas season. Imagine if that were the “one more thing” announced at the iPad mini/air event? It would be truly explosive.

The other thing that i think Apple will release is an iPhone nano. I use the term nano because it will be comparable to the iPod nano, same basic form factor. Analysts have been calling for Apple to release a cheaper smaller version of the iPhone since the original was released, and I think the new nano portends of its imminent arrival. In fact, I think the iPhone 5 was elongated precisely to make the newly coming iPhone nano seem just that much smaller. I suspect that this new iPhone will be more or less app free, namely it will run on iOS, but it will be more like the original iPhone, what you see is what you get. It will also work with the new iWatch, but more or less it’s target market is the price conscious android buyer, who never loads apps on their phone anyhow, and just wants something small, pretty and easy to use. This is not for the hard core Apple geeks, it’s for mom and dad. Or even for kids whose parents don’t want to monitor which apps they purchase. And it will eliminate any price umbrella that the iPhone currently provides.

I’m guessing the new iPhone nano comes out after the Christmas season, so as to not bigfoot on the sales of the iPhone 5.

And that’s it. Let me know what you think.

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