Apple has plenty planned for 2016 in what will be an extremely important twelve months for the corporation. The consumer electronics giant has had to tolerate its share price falling by around 20 percent in the latter half of 2015, and the bean counters at Apple will want to get on the right track immediately this year.Image: Jay Rogers, Flickr
Mixed 2015 for Apple
On the other hand, despite the relatively negative sentiment from the city, Apple still achieve a great deal in the calendar year that has just passed by. The company became the first corporation to achieve a $700 billion market capitalization – although this figure has now dipped below $600 billion – and additionally finished the year with a share price in excess of $100. AAPL has now established itself as comfortably the most significant consumer electronics company on the planet, and the iconic nature of the its brand was underlined by its topping of the authoritative Interbrand survey.
Sales were also strong for Apple in 2015, and indeed CEO Tim Cook described the calendar year as its most successful ever. Revenue at the Cupertino-based company grew to in excess of $234 billion dollars in 2015, which was an increase of around 28 percent from the previous year.
One concern for Apple, though, is that the iPhone remains absolutely central to the financial success of the company. This is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, after all many major corporations across the world would love to have such a bankable product as the iPhone, let alone other consumer electronics manufacturers. But it is Apple’s reliance on established product lines that has led to the share price of the company slumping somewhat. There is scepticism that AAPL can generate new revenue streams, and this doubt was certainly reflected in the financial results of the company in 2015.
Aside from the iPhone, sales of the Apple Watch, iMac and App Store were all positive for the company as well. And a pattern that was picked up by numerous analysts was the importance of China for the corporation. Apple is now shifting more units in the world’s most populous nation than even the United States, and a $12.5 billion revenue growth during Q4 alone indicates that this is an increasingly important territory for the consumer electronics behemoth. China is a particularly strong market for Apple Pay, and this will be critical for Apple going forward.
The first big release for Apple in 2016 will be the 4-inch iPhone 6C / iPhone 7C that has been anticipated for some months. The latest prediction comes from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who anticipates an iPhone 6C release in the early weeks of spring. The iPhone 6C is unlikely to feature the 3D Touch included in premium iPhone devices, but a faster A9 processor than the iPhone 5S, coupled with competitive specs and an affordable price point, will doubtless make this a popular device.
Apple Watch 2
The second iteration of the Apple smartwatch is also expected this year, as the company launches the Apple Watch 2. The initial smartwatch can be described as a qualified success, with shipments having reached 7 million units by early November last year. Nonetheless, improvements are expected in the Apple Watch in 2016, with Apple possibly able to include some of the health-tracking functionality that was logistically impossible last year.
In addition, the Apple Watch 2 could also add new features such as GPS capabilities and water resistance. It is thought that Apple will generally emphasize the dustproof and waterproof qualities of its products in the 2016, as the corporation focuses on the fitness-related features of its product range.
It hardly needs to be said that Apple will release an iPhone 7 in 2016; naturally, its most iconic and profitable product niche will be updated accordingly. With the iPhone 7 allocated sthe status of a next generation device, it is expected that there will be significant design and specification changes in this particular smartphone.
Early design predictions for the iPhone 7 include the idea that the company will produce a super-slim body, with the 3.5mm headphone jack likely to be eliminated. An edge-to-edge screen with the Home button scrapped completely is also possible, with patents supporting this prediction. Wireless charging, a waterproof design, a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a quad HD resolution phablet have all been linked with this device as well.
iPad Air 3
Apple is also expected to update its iPad range in 2016, with the iPad Air 3 expected in the first quarter of the calendar year. With AAPL likely to host an event in March to announce the smaller iPhone and the second iteration of the Apple Watch, the iPad Air 3 could debut at this time as well.
The aforementioned Kuo believes that the iPad Air 3 will not feature the 3D Touch capabilities already included in the iPhone range. So improvements in this flagship tablet will instead be focused on improving processing capabilities, memory and probably resolution.
Finally, the iOS operating system is always one of the most important Apple products of any year, considering that it drives the entire Apple mobile product range. Although there were glitches in the iOS 9 release last year, It was generally a well received update, and provides a good foundation for iOS 10 this year.
It is expected that the next generation mobile operating system will be announced at the 2016 Worldwide Developer Conference, with a full rollout occurring in the fall. This would obviously coincide with the release of the iPhone 7, which is largely anticipated to be in September.
Apple always packs iOS with a series of new features, and while it is difficult to entirely anticipate them at this point in time, we do have a few possible clues. AAPL could make it possible to hide default apps, providing further customization to the iOS application. There is also testing underway on iCloud voicemail at Apple, according to reports featured in MacWorld. This would enable the Siri Personal assistant to speak directly with people who contact you, later translating the messages into readable text.
iOS 10 may also include a Home app for IoT-connected devices via HomeKit.