Everybody's Wondering — What's Next for Apple? Board Member Says 'Intimate Devices'

It's astonishing how much interest there is in what Apple will do next, and how much we cling to every indication of gadgets in the pipeline. Yesterday the blogs were abuzz with a vague hint from Apple board member Bill Campbell. In an hour-long talk to his employees at Intuit, he talked briefly about future products. And while he gave the standard line of not being at liberty to discuss Apple's forthcoming products, he did say he expects "a lot of things going on with the application of technology to really intimate things." Of course, everyone is interpreting that to mean an iWatch or some other wearable device is on its way. You can read more on Bloomberg Businessweek. Or you can watch the whole video. Start watching at 6:00 on the timeline to see just the segment on future gadgets.


Apple, as well as those familiar with its plans, say new products are coming. But investors are nervous, believing Apple can't possibly come up with yet one more disruptive technology or service, as the company has done so many times in the past: the Mac, iPod, iTunes Store, iPhone, iPad, iCloud. Each has changed an industry.

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In Steve Jobs's final on-stage product introduction in 2011 with iCloud, he spoke repeatedly about the "post-PC era" — saying the PC would no longer be the center of one's digital life. iPhones and iPads are no longer tethered devices but are computers in their own right. His words were prophetic: One of the biggest news stories this past week was the plunge in PC sales. Market research firm IDC reported PC sales in the first quarter of this year declined by 13.9 percent, which was the largest decline in all the years the firm has been tracking PC shipments. You can read more in an interesting article on Tech.pinions titled "The Revenge of Steve Jobs." Clearly, Apple's iPhone and iPad have been hugely disruptive to the PC industry.

So, again, what's next for Apple? Blogs were also buzzing this past week with the news that Apple is on the verge of signing an agreement with Universal Music related to Apple's forthcoming iRadio service. Sources told the website The Verge that Apple would be signing the agreement as early as next week, and that an agreement with Warner Music will come soon after. What's the big deal? We already have so many options for music, including purchasing it in the iTunes Store, using Pandora, subscribing to Spotify. What's the import of yet another service? Will it be disruptive?

It's hard to say, but what it tells me is that Apple has the ability to make deals with the big content producers. This is significant. Just a few months ago, the word was that Apple's deals with the major labels were dead in the water. Yet, Apple has won the day. This augurs well for the company's rumored efforts to disrupt the TV industry and suggests to me it still has the mojo to get a deal with the major networks. Apple always does things right, making things easier and friendlier for the user. Apple is now making its foray into streaming media delivery, and that could very well be yet another disruptive technology.

A lot of attention right now is the rumored low-cost iPhone and the iPhone 5S. But in some ways, these other rumored developments are more significant. They tell us that Apple is still on the march, still forging into new areas.

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Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.