I've had several conversations with my friend who is an open Apple Fanboy, and we've been discussing "what's next" for the company. Obviously future iterations of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad will happen. Indeed they are happening right now. But its tricky to imagine what the next major piece of hardware will be. The standard thought was that Apple invented the iPod, then added touch, which led to the iPhone, which then led to the iPad. But reading Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs reveals that the iPad was conceptualized and prototyped before the iPhone and iPod touch, but touchscreens the size of an iPad were restrictively expensive, so smaller ones were developed first. So it sort of muddies the water to imagine that the order was iPod, iPad, iPhone.
So what's next? Here's my guess. Take a look at a standard consumer's work day. What electronics do they use? Their phone and computer, that's obvious. A portable music player? Obvious too. But what other electronic devices does a consumer use? The first one I can think of is a car. Oh, and look, it has a stereo in it that plays music.
Right now, the standard method of getting your iTunes or other device's media to play out of your car stereo is to either have an aux jack cord or use one of those horribly unreliable radio transmitters then tun your stereo to the right radio station. An elegan solution, like Ford's Sync technology, is not readily available.
So here's my ('guaranteed wrong or your money back', as Easterbrook says) guess: the iCar is next. Imagine an Apple-manufactured car stereo that seamlessly connected to your iCloud, ran iTunes, and bluetoothed into your iPhone seamlessly. Imagine you can mount screens in the back seat of the car that are multi-touch capable just like an iPad (1080p!). Imagine the whole system runs flawlessly on iOS. All of a sudden your car is an iPhone/iPad heaven-zone. Frankly the technology wouldn't be hard at all to develop. And by connecting to your iPhone the user could take/send phone calls without a separate phone data plan. The car stereo could handle GPS/navigation, could have Siri connectivity, could run apps, and could play movies.
I wrote a while back that Google's work on driverless cars makes a ton of sense to me because the time people spend commuting every day is time they could instead be spending sitting there with Google's ads in their faces, so making them not have to concentrate on driving is good business. The same seems true here for Apple. I can see Apple stopping A2DP bluetooth support and making their own car stereo systems.
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