Apple is set to dominate the consumer electronics industry once more in 2016, and it is intriguing to assess the device releases that are likely from the corporation. This will be a massive twelve months for the California-based company, as the Apple share price has slipped significantly in the final months of 2015.
Central to the Apple strategy as always will be the iPhone range. Apple will deliver its next-generation iPhone 7 in 2016, with question marks hanging over the iconic range for the first time in many years. Although the iPhone 6S sold pretty well for Apple, it was noticeable for analysts that the consumer electronics giant experienced flat growth in the Western marketplace.
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Apple is increasingly reliant on China and East Asia in general in order to generate growth for the iPhone, and with the Chinese stock market experiencing a dramatic contractions over the last week or so, the Cupertino-based corporation will doubtless be assessing the situation closely.
So Apple needs to deliver something outstanding with the iPhone 7 in order to communicate to the city that the smartphone niche is still exciting and relevant. As technology develops, diminishing returns are inevitable, and this is emphatically the case with the smartphone industry at present.
Nonetheless, Apple is expected to deliver an iPhone 7 with improved display resolution, wireless charging, a dual-camera setup, dustproofing and waterproofing included, and a whole host of new features as well. There is no doubt that the iPhone 7 will remain the market-leader in 2016, but it remains to be seen whether it can restore the mojo of the iPhone range.
Apple Watch 2
The first Apple Watch smartwatch has been something of a double-edged sword for Apple. On the one hand, it has emphatically established Apple as the market leader in the smartwatch niche, single-handedly accounting for 95 per cent of the overall marketplace. Conversely, the relatively mediocre sales of the Apple Watch perhaps communicated to the market that this will not be a central product niche for Apple, and cannot be considered a major new revenue stream.
Apple would love to obliterate this assertion in 2016, and is already planning the release of the Apple Watch 2. This new smartwatch competitor will need to build on the progress made by its predecessor, while also convincing skeptical consumers and critics that this device is truly necessary and has a clear purpose.
With this in mind, Apple is expected to resurrect a great deal of the health-tracking functionality that was excluded from the original Apple Watch. In addition, more face and strap options are anticipated, while some analysts have also suggested a higher mid-range variant of the Apple Watch will be released, in order to plug the gap between affordable and premium options.
iPad Air 3
The iPad Air 3 will be another extremely important release for Apple, as the consumer electronics giant attempts to freshen up its range of tablets. Again, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the iPad series is the most important and successful tablet in the world, but this doesn’t alter the existing situation with this device range. Sales of tablet computers have certainly been in decline over the last couple of years, and Apple must deliver a new device that entices consumers once more.
There was no iPad Air released last year, so an upgrade to the existing model is certainly anticipated in 2016. Apple is expected to improve the processor and camera in the iPad Air 3, although there is some debate over whether the 3D Touch technology introduced in the iPhone last year will make its debut.
While the general consensus of opinion at one time was that this was inevitable, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t think 3D Touch will make an appearance, apparently due to production issues. However, support for the Apple Pencil would certainly be worthwhile and welcome. Early reports suggest that the iPad Air 3 could launch alongside the second iteration of the Apple Watch in a special event in March.
iPhone 6C / 7C
Finally, possibly the most anticipated device release of 2016 from Apple will come in the shape of the iPhone 7C. That is, of course, if Apple does not decide to name it the iPhone 6C! This is not yet clear at the time of writing, but what is anticipated is that this four-inch smartphone will hit the stores at some point during this calendar year. And it looks increasingly likely that we will see it early in Q2, as Apple spices up its product range with a new tablet, smartwatch and smartphone.
The iPhone 7C should be seen as very much an affordable alternative to the more premium iPhone handsets. It is not likely to include the 3D Touch technology that is such a central feature of the iPhone range now. But the spec list linked with this more diminutive version of the iconic smartphone is roughly on a par with the iPhone 6. A price tag of around $450 is also anticipated, and the iPhone 7C is expected to make serious penetrations into both the affordable Western marketplace, and developing economies.
Apple may also update the iPad Mini range in 2016, release a second-generation iPad Pro, and update its acclaimed MacBook laptop. After Apple produced new 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs recently, no new desktops are anticipated.