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The five products Apple must make

What ought to be Apple's next leap of faith? Here are a few ideas for where Apple should go next. What are your ideas?
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Written by Jo Best on
Apple made its latest big move into new territories last year with the launch of the now ubiquitous iPhone, expanding beyond the desktop and into the choppy waters of mobile. What ought to be Apple's next leap of faith? Here are a few ideas for where Apple should go next.

Handheld gaming console
Now Apple's an established mobile phone brand, why not go the whole hog by taking the games-and-mobile functionality of the iPhone into the world of gaming proper with a dedicated Apple branded console, à la DS Lite or PSP with an N-Gage type device that people might actually buy?

While the iPhone SDK has opened up the possibility for developers to bring games to the Apple mobile, the offerings released for the iPhone to date haven't been the stuff of gamers' dreams. A dedicated device could persuade the gaming big boys to get on board and bring their users with them.

What better way to woo the big-spending gamer market than with a dedicated handheld gaming device?

Tablet
Rumors of the Apple tablet have been doing the rounds for some years, fanned by the occasional patent filing from Cupertino which seems to suggest such a device is on the way.

Surely it wouldn't be too much of a leap for Apple to consider bringing this rumor to reality. When Apple got into the touch screen game with the iPhone, it introduced a whole host of nice touch screen touches - the ability to zoom in on an image by moving your fingers to either corner of the screen, for example - making a full screen tablet is an appealing prospect for Mac users.

Apple's also proved that thin is in with the Mac Book Air - and dieting skills could rather cleverly be brought in to turn tablets into the lightweight devices users always hoped they'd be.

iPhone nano
The iPhone earned its cachet with geeks and the average Joe alike by following the Apple 'reassuringly expensive' model - it speaks volumes about the device that a developer created an application intended purely to show off the wealth of the iPhone user that downloaded it.

While the strategy has worked a treat so far - sales of the iPhone are reckoned to be in the five million ballpark - it's only a tiny fraction of the potential mobile market out there for Apple's picking.

Good sense would dictate that the iPhone's future development will follow the historical path of the iPod's. After the first geek-love inducing, big-storage packing model, Apple debuted the nano, a smaller, less flashy item for those not weighed down by a massive wallet.

An iPhone nano might even go down better as consumers trim back their electronics spending.

The device called for here is a smaller, less feature-heavy device, with less storage and a daintier screen size. Admittedly, that would almost necessitate a removal of the touchscreen element that makes the iPhone so appealing to its users, but by the time such a device would be brought to market, the iPhone brand should be strong enough to sweep up would-be buyers into the type of frenzy that could make them forget that nagging feeling of touchscreen jealousy.

Netbook
Who doesn't love a good netbook at the moment? HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung - the list of vendors scrambling onto the bandwagon goes on.

Apple, however, has resisted so far - but for how much longer? With many of the netbooks on the market at the moment bearing a distinct resemblance to the white plastic of Apple's traditional design, it would seem an obvious step for Apple to take on its rivals at their own game.

Apple, after all, has indicated it's not scared of the portable PC - its Mac Minis have been part of its hardware line-up for years and the One Laptop Per Child project could have had its XO machines running on Mac OS X if it had opted to take the closed source route.

With the company reporting its best ever quarter for Mac sales, it's time for the company to take on the low-cost, ultra portable market or remain a hardware also-ran.

Mac OS X for any machine
The last time Apple thought about opening up its software, it came up with Boot Camp - a method of running Windows on a Mac, a move that prompted wags to praise a combination that brought together the affordability of Mac hardware with the reliability of Windows software.

Surely what Joe Public is craving is the opposite combo: Mac software without the associated ties of a Cupertino branded machine. Yet, Apple hardware and software remain as inseparable as Doctor Who and the Tardis.

A platform that's locked down is a strategy that's worked for Apple so far in brand building, but it's one that's confined the company to a niche. A fat and profitable niche but a niche nonetheless - by opening up the Mac OS X platform to other manufacturers, there's a huge growth bump to be had.

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