2014 was a good year for Apple (AAPL), containing as it did the release of several new products and services, among them their first wearable device and their new mobile payment service. The year also saw updates to tablets and Mac devices, and software updates for mobile devices and computers. On top of all these changes, Apple also made their largest acquisition to date of the headphone manufacturers, Beats.
So, a busy and successful year all round, which experts are predicting will continue on into 2015, and in fact, in the last month Apple achieved a milestone by being the first $700 billion company. What’s more, it is predicted that the company value will soon be in the trillions of dollars. Let’s examine the proposed products, services and other changes for 2015.
The Apple Watch
Although this first Apple wearable was announced in 2014, it will not be a retail sale until 2015 at a date yet to be announced, but predicted to be ‘early’. The release of this product may be somewhat problematical, as potential consumers will probably wish to try it on prior to purchase, but however Apple choose to handle that issue, it will be a significant release under the proprietorship of CEO Tim Cook, who describes the product as a breakthrough.
There are 3 designs of Apple Watch in the offing – with a choice of a stainless steel case, an aluminium case or an 18 carat gold ‘Edition’ version. Prices start at $349 and the watches must be paired with a suitable iPhone model, which includes iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
The iPad Pro
It is rumoured that the iPad Pro will be made bigger and completely revamped to increase sales which have been lower than ideal for the last 3 quarters. In fact, the iPad is struggling for sales as tablet sales overall have declined from 53% in 2013 to only around 7% in 2014.
A larger screen could be the saving grace for the iPad, making it more attractive to business customers, and it is in order to tap this market segment that Apple is collaborating with IBM. A larger screen and detachable accessories such as a keyboard could enable to iPad to be a real replacement for desktop computers. Current Apple tablet models have a maximum screen size of 9.7”, but the revamped device may go up to 12.9” which is closer to Apple Mac computers – the MacBook Pro goes from 13” to 15” and the MacBook Air has an 11” to 13” screen.
The MacBook Air
Sales of computers generally have been falling recently, but the MacBook Air has been instrumental in helping Apple to buck the trend. In September, Apple had its largest share ever of the US market for computers, shipping 5.5 million units, and sitting in number 5 position – experts say the MacBook Air laptop which costs from $899 has been the machine that made this possible.
The New Services
HomeKit was announced in 2014 and when available to the general public will enable users to control home automation smart devices, such as locking doors, dimming lights and other iOS device functions. HealthKit was made available in September 2014, and is aimed at people who wish to monitor health and fitness, as it gathers and stores information such as how many calories a person has eaten or burned, how many steps they have taken and other health related data.
Apple Pay makes it possible to pay for goods in-store using an iPhone or an iPad.
All these products are aimed at increasing the Apple ecosystem, and the great advantage that Apple has is that it has control over services, hardware and software, and can therefore improve user experience by integrating software, a situation that none of its rivals enjoys.
The Sale of Patents
A number of high tech companies sold off 4,000 patents for a variety of smartphone technologies to RPX Corp, a San Francisco located clearing house, in order to bring to a close a long-running patents battle with Android smartphone makers. The ‘Rockstar’ group, led by Apple and containing a series of other high profile firms including Sony, Ericsson, BlackBerry and Microsoft realised $900 million from the deal over the patents which initially cost $4.5 billion in 2010. The patents covered a wide range of technologies such as internet access, data networking and document navigation, and their sale is being seen as the end of the line for a whole series of lawsuits.
2015 is going to be a big year for Apple, with plenty of product and service releases; AAPL is definitely one to watch.