Several years ago, I predicted the iPad's business success, even when detractors were claiming the new tablet was better suited as an entertainment device. Because so many Apple product launches generate universal appeal, predicting Apple successes isn't very difficult. What is challenging, however, is identifying new trends, specifying actual sales numbers, and accurately forecasting an Apple failure. With 2015 fast approaching, here are three predictions for Apple technologies in the coming year.
1. Apple will sell 20 million Apple Watches, boosting Apple Pay adoption
I'm already on record stating Apple will sell as many as 12 million Apple Watches in the first half of 2015. While other predictions estimate Apple will sell anywhere from 10 to 30 million units of its new wearable next year, I believe actual sales will come in around 20 million.
The sales number itself isn't seemingly that important, but it is — and here's why. Watch sales have seriously eroded. When was the last time you really considered buying a watch if it wasn't a Pebble or device also offering FitBit-type functionality? While there's no doubt the Apple Watch will create considerable buzz and many will purchase the new gadget just to gain immediate digerati credibility, what's most telling is Apple's ability to reinvigorate an essentially dead market segment.
Then there's Apple Pay. The Apple Watch will prove to be an important conduit to Apple Pay adoption. So, as Apple sells millions of Apple Watches and continues along its well-documented path of converting customers of other Apple products to its computers and smartphones, the company will also grow the Apple Pay army. Look for the payment option to grow in adoption exponentially in 2015 as a result.
2. The MacBook Air will receive a Retina display
Here's a two-in-one prediction. Look for Apple to discontinue the non-Retina display MacBook Pro. The model is already becoming obsolete. Look for the trend to continue when Apple adds its Retina display technology to its MacBook Air line. While the upgraded display and impressive corresponding resolution may challenge battery life and increase production costs (whereas Apple worked to lower the MacBook Air's price in 2014), Apple's clearly pushing its products, including iPhones, iPads, and iMacs, to using Retina high-resolution displays.
3. Apple will lose its iBooks lawsuit appeal
In July 2013, Apple was found to have violated an antitrust law and engaged in collusion with book publishers when pricing iBooks products. Of course, Apple kind of did the same thing with music when it launched iTunes with $0.99 songs. But the devil's in the details, and the United States Justice Department already won the District Court ruling to support the feds' argument that Apple's iBooks pricing strategy constituted price fixing, and Apple's already previously agreed to a $450-million eBook pricing settlement entered into with states attorneys general in a separate but related lawsuit.
While there's no reason to believe the Court of Appeals will overturn the original ruling, the case could be turned by Apple's claim the pricing coordination was necessary to enable competition with a monopolist Amazon. Personally, I'd like to see that happen and prove my prediction wrong, as I believe Apple's done well forcing competition within a tight eBook marketplace that was previously essentially owned by Amazon. As an avid reader who possesses multiple iPhones and iPads within my residence, it's nice knowing an eBook alternative exists. I think it's great that Apple is attempting to break a potential logjam that could provide commuting business users — who wish to read eBooks on their iPhones and iPads — with another eBook reader that possesses integrated purchasing capability and reasonable pricing for titles.
What other things do you predict will happen with Apple in 2015? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.