In Ten Years: Apple
Still sleek in 2018.
Back in May, Forrester Research envisioned what Apple (AAPL) -- a company with unlimited potential and exposure -- might look like in 5 years.
Their grand prediction? Digital picture frames and clock radios.
Call me an optimist, but I suspect the company that redefined portable music and the capabilities of mobile phones might drum up better than bargain-bin items fit for Radio Shack.
For journalists and bloggers, predicting the future of Apple products is akin to sport. Countless articles have mused about what revolutionary gizmo CEO Steve Jobs might pull out of his mock turtleneck next. It could even be a drinking game: "Tablet computer? Everybody chug!"
But what makes those Apple product conferences so exciting is their sheer unpredictability. Jobs is so notoriously secretive, non-disclosure agreements must be passed around the company's Cupertino, California headquarters like so many paper napkins. No one could accurately predict what gadget will be unveiled next.
But it's fun to try.
It's safe to assume Apple will push forward with its computer line. MacBook and MacBook Pro models will live on -- perhaps in name, too -- in their unibody structure. Battery life will increase. So will hard-drive space. However, as cloud computing gains prominence, the 2018 laptop will rely more on online storage and less on what's under the hood.
In 10 years, depending on the speed and ubiquity of wi-fi, a high-capacity hard drive might be totally unnecessary - allowing the MacBook Air to break the 48-ounce barrier.
It's no coincidence that the iPod Touch and iPhone models share an uncanny resemblance. Once the iPhone boasts storage space of 120 GB, it's unlikely the iPod will stick around. Soon -- within the next 5 years, perhaps -- the iPod Touch will be phased out in favor of the iPhone and iPod Nano.
Apple will undoubtedly incorporate online storage and access into its precious iPhone line. Solid-state drives may reach the terabyte mark, but high-definition audio and video will push the limits of what 1000 GB can hold. Along comes remote storage, which will sync wirelessly with the iPhone and allow a user's entire music and film catalog to stream effortlessly on its new and improved widescreen.
In the presence of a television, the iPhone will become a wireless media library that easily takes the place of DVD or Blue-Ray players. Same goes for audio and a set of surround-sound speakers.
Beyond updating existing products, Apple may want to try its hand at digital camcorders. As more and more directors opt for cheaper alternatives to film, innovations in digital video will continue to explode - paving the way for amateur filmmakers to achieve the same quality as professionals, but for far less.
If Apple released a portable, high-quality camcorder, it could very well ignite a boom in independent film by 2020.
And maybe, just maybe, the iPhone will have cut-and-paste functionality by then.
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