What Will Apple Dream Up Next?
Steve Jobs is gone, but the dreams haven't stopped coming from the visionaries still trying build Apple (NAS: AAPL) into the world's first trillion-dollar company.
Speaking at the All Things Digital conference this week, CEO Tim Cook teased audiences by proclaiming his amazement at things he can't openly talk about now.
"The juices are flowing," he said. "We have some incredible things coming out."
Combining the visions of the brainy Cook, the design-minded Johnny Ive, and the countless other Cupertino stars bridging consumer tech with mass appeal, Apple really will have some incredible things rolling out in the future. Like a real-life version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, Apple's dream factory never sleeps.
You're turning violet, Violet
We're now less than two weeks away from WWDC 2012, the powwow for developers where Apple is expected to make plenty of news.
One report indicates that Apple has slated 40 different sessions for the Worldwide Developers Conference, so obviously there are going to be a lot of new things introduced that the world's most valuable tech company wants to begin pitching to developers.
It's time for new MacBooks, and they couldn't come at a better moment, as revenue from Apple's portable Macs declined in its latest quarter. Rumors of new features and surprisingly low entry-level prices could be huge in winning over new converts.
Apple probably wants to get its new MacBooks out before Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) turns heads with its Windows 8 update. Mr. Softy's new operating system could be a game changer with its tablet-centric features, and Apple needs to arm itself with as big a base as possible.
Strike that -- reverse it
The refreshed Macs aren't going to be enough to get Apple's shares moving in the right direction again, of course. MacBooks accounted for just 9% of Apple's revenue in its latest quarter, and all Macs accounted for just 13% of the sales mix.
The real difference-makers for Apple will be the iPhone 5 and iTV.
The iPhone accounted for 58% of revenue in Apple's latest quarter, and that's before the iPhone 5, which is likely to be Apple's first 4G iPhone. Many also believe that the update will make the popular handset compatible with China Mobile (NYS: CHL) . Despite the iPhone's booming popularity in the world's most populous nation, earlier versions don't seamlessly work on China's largest wireless carrier.
Between 4G connectivity and broader carrier compatibility, the iPhone 5 will be huge even before we begin considering the possible bar-raising features that may help Apple eat into Android's growing market-share lead.
I'll be the first person in the world to be sent by television
A full-blown HDTV -- iOS on a monster screen -- would be an entirely new opportunity for Apple.
Apple hasn't been the video darling that it can easily be. According to market-research specialist iSuppli, Apple's share of the online movie market through iTunes shrank from 60.8% in 2010 to 32.3% last year. It wasn't so much that Apple slipped as Netflix (NAS: NFLX) -- now that it's charging for streaming as a standalone service -- exploded from 1% of the market in 2010 to 44% in 2011.
An Apple HDTV may not return the online video market to the tech behemoth right away, but it would place Apple in a stronger position to reach TV watchers and lead the consumption experience.
I said "good day"
The neat thing about Apple is that in a few year, we'll probably be talking about more than just iOS TVs, tablets, and smartphones. These are the products that we may be getting in a few months, but Apple works on products for years before they see the light of day.
What if Apple launches unlimited music and video services? They exist elsewhere, but you just know Apple would put its own spin on a Napster or Netflix type of service. Apple's App Store has already turned the company into a major player as a gaming marketplace. What if it takes things to the next level, especially as the processing power of its gadgets increases in ability?
As iPads infiltrate classrooms this fall -- and that's happening in a lot more places than you might think -- aren't there educational tech opportunities outside the tablet waiting for Apple optimization?
The factory tour is just beginning, and by the time we know what Cook knows now, he's going to know about a lot of even cooler things that we'll have no inkling of.
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At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of China Mobile, Netflix, Apple, and Microsoft.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple, Microsoft, and Netflix and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.Longtime Fool contributorRick Munarrizcalls them as he sees them. He owns shares of Netflix and is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.