Apple stays in its lane, announces no 'new product categories'

Apple stays in its lane, announces no 'new product categories'

Summary: While 2013 has reverberated with recurring rumors of the next big Apple product, the company's October 22 event featured no new unveilings. Where does that leave some of the most popular rumored products?

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple
Tim Cook waves goodbye to the crowd at Apple's October 22 event. | Image: James Martin/CNET

Looking for an iWatch? Try the new Nike Fuelband. How about an Apple phablet? Leave that to Nokia. Whither the Apple-branded HDTV set? You may have to wait for the 4K revolution.

Apple took the wraps off a flurry of iPad updates, Macbook Pro updates, the redesigned Mac Pro, and a bunch of free software on Tuesday. But overall, the company stuck to improving its existing product lines and keeping them at roughly the same prices—other than dropping the price tag of the OS X Mavericks upgrade and some of its apps to "free." 

We didn't hear anything about the "new product categories" that Tim Cook said the company is working on. In the poll that ZDNet ran on Tuesday morning, 56% of readers predicted that a smartwatch was the most likely new product that Apple would announce, while a phablet and HDTV set were deadlocked at 22% each.

As mentioned this morning, Apple could still be working on these products but didn't have anything ready to announce for the October 22 event. Apple does not typically hold product announcements in November or December since the lucrative holiday shopping season is already in full bloom by then. So, it's unlikely that we'll hear an announcement about any major new Apple product until January 2014, at the earliest.

Another possibility is that Apple has merely explored these products and decided not to enter these markets, or at least not yet. And, of course, there's the alternative that Apple has no interest in these markets and the scuttlebutt is off the mark. 

However, with all of the iWatch trademarks Apple has filed around the world, I think it's most likely that we'll see an Apple smartwatch in 2014. An Apple phablet is the next most probable 2014 market that Apple could enter, since it has certainly lost some of its early adopter crowd over the larger screens on Samsung, HTC, and Nokia devices. But that would also mean splintering its phone/tablet market into even more SKUs, which belies the company's core value of simplicity. The least likely of the three possibilities is the Apple HDTV set, since the TV business is such a low-margin, brutally-competitive market. However, if Apple was to make a high-end 4K 65-inch model with a ground-breaking gesture- and/or voice-based interface, then that could be an Apple product that might make sense. 

The other disappointment on Tuesday for many business professionals who use the iPad was that Apple did not announce a fancy keyboard cover to rival Microsoft's Touch Cover. For now, Apple appears content to let Logitech and the rest of the accessory vendors make all of the money on iPad keyboards, and to let Microsoft own the innovation crown for the best tablet keyboard.

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Topics: Mobility, Apple

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  • Yes but...

    Most of us only predicted that watch because you didn't give us a none of the above option.

    These announcements are so predictable, I just don't understand the hype anymore!

    "What do you think Apple is going to do?" Reply, "Oh I dunno, maybe a higher res screen, faster CPU/GPU, more RAM, Thinner, Lighter and the same battery life."

    Seriously, their biggest innovation on the phone was a lock that stored the key on the same device! I expect nothing but more of the same weak upgrade cycle from this group. At least when Steve was alive, he kept things interesting even if you didn't like him.
    • Predictable, but still outstanding

      The new iPad Air is dramatically lighter, thinner and faster, all while lasting the same 10 hours.

      You can not possibly fathom any bigger update than this.

      By the way, iPad Air is twice faster than any Adreno 330 device (which is about as fast as iPad 4/iPhone 5s/iPad mini Retina).
    • get real

      hmm... as if apple is the ONLY company that pushes out "new" products every year (or even every quarter) which are only marginal upgrades of existing products? and yeah, they all honestly DO NOT wish their customers to dump their still-functioning-alright-but-is-one-generation-older products to buy their "new" products... get real mates, all companies are after your $$$ in your wallet, no one is exceptional.
    • new products

      Apple does not exist to please your techno-masturbation needs.

      Considering how many people *want* Apple products, there is perhaps something you had not considered yet.
  • Apple is busy riding the cash coweieio into the barn

    • Hmm

      Is that when the cow kicks the lantern over and burns the whole damn thing down?
  • First Real Article on ZDNet about the Apple Event

    Thank you Sir for writing the first realistic article on what really happened today at Apple's event. Deliver the facts, cut the sensation; Great stuff. Nothing to see here moving along...

  • People are executing two much & don't understand the subtle nature of Apple

    Stop inventing things that Apple should make, and then cry when they don't do it. If you think Apple is riding the cash cow, um thats' something they have been doing from 1979. Occasionally, and I mean 3 times a decade, they create a new category, not every year. Tell me, who doesn't ride the cash cow, when they can? It's not bad or a mistake, and doesn't hurt anyone.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Apple has done to this point. If you like what they have, buy it. If you don't, then buy something else. However don't be angry with them if they don't put what you want on on their menu.

    With that being said, most of the other products, phablets, watches, TVs, don't necessarily hit the mark for the category they are trying to reach. They are the best of the breed, but if you expect Apple to do it, then expect they will wait for two reasons. One, they still have product in the pipeline they want to get out first, or two, they have a lot more work ahead, before they release that product, some of which they will never release because it doesn't make sense to anyone, or at least sense to Apple leadership.

    Can't anyone be a least a little excited over iterative changes? You don't have to buy the same thing over and over again. You could wait one two or three years. Stop feeling like a victim, and start being a educated thoughtful consumer.

    Apple watching can be a little fun, but when people are upset because the predictions didn't come true, well, that's poor sportsmanship. Think about this, we get 64bit hardware and OS. No one ever guessed that, but since that's an intangible, people forget it's really big news.
    • agreed

      Absolutely agreed. here's my thought:
      "hmm... as if apple is the ONLY company that pushes out "new" products every year (or even every quarter) which are only marginal upgrades of existing products? and yeah, they all honestly DO NOT wish their customers to dump their still-functioning-alright-but-is-one-generation-older products to buy their "new" products... get real mates, all companies are after your $$$ in your wallet, no one is exceptional."
  • I would just love it if iWatch

    was the Apple brand for their own version of Netflix.

    The real story here is that all the tech pundits were wrong. Again.
    • makes sense

      Until the media (distribution) monopoly is broken, we will not see any real benefit from "smart TVs" etc and it makes absolutely no sense for Apple to invest there. When (note, I didn't say if) Apple finally are ready with that stuff, they might make an iTV, just because they can and it will be useful appliance.

      So yes, iWatch might be just that. Let's hope they can cover more countries, not only the US..
  • It's just you guys

    I don't think Apple is interested in producing a lot of things that you guys writing BS to attract clicks pretend they are developing. An alternative view is that Apple leaks fake information so that Samsung immediately scrambles and develops a knock-off to an imagined Apple product, hoping to scoop them and avoid the accusation that they stole the idea. Example: iWatch. Samedung read Apple was possibly on the verge of releasing such a product so they threw resources into making their own compuwatch. It is a calculated subterfuge on Apple's part to make them waste resources while Apple is developing real products.
    Christopher Isto
    • Really?

      You pick on Samsung with an offensive name but fail to mention either Pebble or Sony who both brought out watches before Samsung.

      You also are negligent in your understanding of smart watch development where companies like IBM were developing Linux based smart watches way back before Android was a twinkle in anyone's eye, let alone iOS. They are not, in themselves, ground breaking devices.

      My issue with smart watches is whether or not they are actually worthwhile. I have no doubt that Apple are capable of making a watch which is more functional and probably prettier than anything currently available. However, the question Apple need to answer is whether the market really wants smart watches enough to make Apple some money.

      The picture you seem to paint is not one of scurrilous copy-catting but Apple being incompetent or negligent to its share holders. I don't believe either. I think it more likely that Apple are sensibly waiting to see if there is a market to tap into.

      You saw Apple do exactly this with the iPad mini and you're starting to see the same thing with larger iPhones. Apple knew there was a market for the mini because the sales of smaller Android tablets were good.
  • One must keep investors happy, and the best way is to not rock the boat

    by introducing new products that the buying public may not purchase to the levels of the products they did invest in.

    There is no reason to move resources away from an established product line that sells well, one that is giving investors what the only thing they are interested in: stock profits.
    John Zern
  • Which is Easier?

    which is easier? - to copy a great product and then make differernt sizes of it and add some superficial features/gimmicks on it and sell it like hot cakes? - or, to spend many years to research, study, and design, in order to create a completely new category of products?
  • apple has lost the plot

    Makes tons of money, only invests in Law firms. - will end up like Blackberry - the company that made it big and. Thought that. Was enough!
    • nope

      BlackBerry failed, because they made too many complex deals with various parties, from Governments to Telcos... and those deals eventually backfired at the end. There is no saving BlackBerry from this.

      You should not sit on two seats at the same time.
  • So many Apple lovers with their heads down today,

    so disappointed, while trying to hide their grief by stating that, it was just the tech bloggers wanting for Apple to come out with some dramatic new development to wow the Apple faithful, and with which they could thumb their noses at the Apple competition.

    No doubt that, if Apple had come out with something that so many were expecting, that the Apple faithful would be running around and telling everybody about how Apple is out-innovating the competition again. In fact, those Apple fanatics would be lined up outside an Apple store and/or at Best Buy, waiting for weeks, trying to be the first to own a new iWatch or a new iTV or a new iPhablet or a new iGamePlatform or a new iSomethingOrOther, even if the device wasn't going on sale until Xmas or later.

    The Apple fanatics are so predictable, and pathetic.