Apple held its public shareholder’s meeting at the Steve Jobs Theater Friday, giving major investors the opportunity to ask Tim Cook and the executive team some direct questions. While a resolution regarding the diversity of the board dominated the discussion and the headlines afterward, there were a few interesting notes regarding current and upcoming products and services that also came out of the event.
Bloomberg shared the following quote from Tim Cook regarding future features and products from Apple:
Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said he has “never been more optimistic” about where the company is today and where it’s heading. In a pep talk to investors, Cook said the iPhone maker is “planting seeds” and “rolling the dice” on future products that will just “blow you away.”
Ok, so what does this actually mean? In the short term, I am sure the company is banking on their new video and news services bolstering their growing services business. However, I think Cook is pointing further down the road with this comment to things that we haven’t seen yet. Thanks to supply chain leaks, job advertisements and some insider reports, it’s easy to guess that Apple’s work in AR Glasses and autonomous driving figure heavily into this comment. Like the iPhone at the time of its release, they represent brand new business opportunities for Apple. Big ones.
While we know that Apple is pouring money into both AR and automotive ventures, they are both more than a year away from a potential first release. However, the health and wellness features that Cook also alluded to during the meeting are likely much closer to reality today. He specifically mentioned that there is a long roadmap of products related to the highly successful Apple Watch and AirPods.
The Apple Watch got its new EKG feature and a more refined design with the Series 4 late last year, so it will be interesting to see what Apple may be planning to add in 2019. While the hardware design will likely stay the same for a year or two, it will be interesting to see what direction they choose for their next health feature. As for the AirPods, we should see the first upgrade to one of Apple’s fastest growing devices ever within a month.
However, it will likely be the next update to the AirPods later this year or sometime in 2020 that will bring an updated design and new health features of its own. It will interesting to see how Apple follows up such a successful first-gen device, especially with some competitors finally closing in with really good products of their own. There have also been plenty of rumors of Apple-branded wireless headphones, as well, so we may finally see some new hardware in Apple’s wearables category. Considering the company’s success with this line of hardware, it would be a surprise to me if a new device doesn’t come out in 2019.
There were a couple of other interesting tidbits from the investor meeting. First of all, Tim Cook specifically mentioned that Apple is working to lower the price of the new MacBook Air. That’s good news, since it raised the starting price of the device over $200. The rumors of a less expensive MacBook last year never materialized and the laptop that was Apple’s most budget-friendly mobile Mac went the way of all Apple’s recent product releases- up.
The other interesting bit from the meeting came from Craig Federighi’s answer to a shareholder’s question about the limitations of the iPad Pro’s USB-C port. He let it be known that new features are under development that will make file management easier on the device. He even went as far as joking around with Cook about per-announcing them. Jokes aside, I don’t think this comment gets made unless said features were coming this year.
To me, this is more evidence that Apple had planned to match the redesigned hardware of the iPad Pro with suitable software features last year. Remember all the rumors that iOS 12 was scaled back in favor of a focus on stability? That some iPad-specific features had been bumped to iOS 13? Remember all of the positive reviews of the iPad Pro that had that “but…” at the end? It looks like those file management features that will FINALLY allow users to access external storage devices and move files both directions are coming very soon. It’s about time.
It is good to hear Tim Cook giving shareholders vague promises that good things are coming and that Apple’s future is bright. We Already have a pretty good idea of some of what Apple is working on for the future. We also know how much they are putting back into R&D, which is actually a substantial amount, these days. However, this last bit about the iPad Pro is still the best news to me. I LOVE Apple’s tablet hardware and it still mops the floor with the few remaining competitors in the space. However, file management is one of those last areas that is holding the iPad Pro’s really powerful hardware back. Apple getting this checked off the list at this year’s WWDC is news all iPad fans are waiting to hear.