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What's up for Apple in 2012?

Ryan Faas | Dec. 30, 2011
2011 was a big year for Apple.

Less dramatic steps Apple is sure to take will include increasing the capabilities of the features (hardware and OS-level tools) that developers can access under iOS and improving mobility management. Apple has given developers access to a greater range of APIs in each iOS release and that seems destined to continue -- both for Siri and other technologies.

The company will be looking to continue to improve device and data security, as well as the capabilities of MDM systems for monitoring and managing iOS devices in business environments -- an area where Apple has an advantage over most Android devices at the moment.

iCloud improves

It seems impossible to count out an update to iCloud in 2012. The big issue Apple needs to address is syncing between Macs and PCs. Right now, syncing third-party app data between iOS devices is decent, but limited. If Apple is going to challenge other companies in the cloud, it needs to be able to integrate with desktops better. And what Mac user wouldn't want to see iCloud bring back Mobile Me's ability to sync system settings?

Apple TV becomes more than a hobby

With a recent estimate that 8% of U.S. households have an Apple TV (with Apple capturing 32% of the connected TV market), it's hard to call the current Apple TV a hobby -- though Apple has done so since the original model was announced five years ago. 2012 seems poised to be the year that the Apple TV becomes a major product and revenue source for Apple.

Rumors have been rampant that Apple would eventually produce its own HDTV line instead of the current Apple TV set-top box. Those rumors began flying more than ever this fall after Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs was released -- largely because of a brief passage in which Jobs says that he "finally cracked it" in reference to the television market and/or industry. That comment -- along with the release of Siri on the iPhone 4S (and its ability to control TV content when paired with Siri Proxy) -- has been taken by many to mean that Apple is planning a next-generation HDTV that utilizes voice control. Many HDTV manufacturers have actually begun work on voice-controlled models as a result of those reports.

If Apple does develop its own HDTV line, 2012 will probably see a small rollout of a limited number of models to test the market.

Regardless of whether Apple is planning its own line of televisions, it's pretty certain that we'll get a new version of the set-top box, probably with an updated interface and features. The current Apple TV user experience hasn't really changed much in a few years, and I can envision Apple revamping it. Given Netflix's gaffes this year, I also wouldn't be surprised to see Apple offer additional streaming services like those from Hulu+ or possibly Amazon.


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