Mark Gurman: What Apple has cooking in the labs

A foldable iPhone? A HomePod-Apple TV-FaceTime-camera combo? True AR glasses?

From “Should you buy an iPhone 13” mailed Sunday to Gurman’s Power On ($) subscribers.

While the new devices have excited many Apple fans, the upgrades left some people itching for more—and they may have to wait awhile. While I’d still expect new MacBook Pros and AirPods by the end of 2021, I don’t anticipate anything groundbreaking for at least another year.

2022 is certain to be a stronger showing, with as many as three new Apple Watch models, a major iPhone upgrade, revamped Mac Pros and MacBook Airs with Apple Silicon, new AirPods Pro earbuds, and an updated iPad Pro design. Oh, and don’t forget a potential preview of Apple’s future mixed-reality headset.

Also don’t ignore what else the company has cooking in its labs: an all-new home device that combines a HomePod with an Apple TV and FaceTime camera, Apple Watches with even more health sensors, a foldable iPhone and true AR glasses. I wouldn’t start clamoring for any of these yet, though, as all of them are probably still between two and four years away.

My take: Gurman is pretty darn good on Apple, but I draw the line at the foldable iPhone.

9 Comments

  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. My take: Gurman is pretty darn good on Apple, but I draw the line at the foldable iPhone.”

    Gurman was explicit on the foldable iPhone saying, “… I wouldn’t start clamoring for any of these yet, though, as all of them are probably still between two and four years away.”

    I am confident Apple will compete in the foldable iPhone category. They will compete, though, on their time schedule. A foldable iPhone would be in demand by many consumers, if the foldable iPhone is reliable, dependable, functional and designed with sophistication. It affords larger screen real estate in a compact case. Most all ages desire larger screens for gaming, visual assistive devices for aging baby boomers and larger screen for commercial purposes. One reason the phablet took off in Asia so quickly years ago was its utility for use in commerce and gaming. Now we have face timing. I see a very prosperous future for Apple having a foldable phone that is compact in its mobility, but highly functional in its commercial, gaming, and social/communication uses. Apple will take its time and get it right. It’s not if Apple brings us the foldable iPhone; it’s when.

    2
    September 19, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      IMO, a Foldable iPhone will only happen when

      1) it’s perfected to Apple’s quality levels as you mentioned

      2) the market it for one is MUCH better than a paltry 3-4M units currently estimated for Samsung and all others’ Fold and Flex models combined (which may be never, even the iPhone mini can outsell that, volume and revenue wise)

      3) Apple can get the manufacturing costs down to the price it wants to pay, for the margin it’s needs, at least 30%, which will dictate the price category it will sell at.

      I do not believe Apple would charge a starting price much higher than 10% more than an iPhone Pro Max model ~$1200, if that, and it must have functionality at least equivalent to the regular Pro model except having a folding display. I believe this keeps the unit within the ultra-premium range. There’s a better than outside chance Apple could introduce a pair of iPhone AirFold ™ or AirFlex ™ and keep them at the upper edge of the current price tiers.

      2
      September 20, 2021
  2. David Emery said:
    I’m very much sure “# of prototype efforts” >> “# that actually become products”… 🙂

    I’m still waiting for a compelling use case for a foldable phone. But a foldable iPad, the form-factor of a paperback book, has that built-in use case.

    AR has an obvious set of use cases, I’m kinda surprised Apple hasn’t done some early AR built on Maps. But as someone who has worn glasses since he was 7, I’m not really interested in AR glasses.

    3
    September 19, 2021
    • John Blackburn said:
      AR is broad. Apple patent’s covering variable focus could transform tradition glasses as well. It would be quite transformative for instance to look at a product label and zoom in to read its contents.

      1
      September 19, 2021
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Foldable? Maybe.

    First, no pressure. Nearly no one will switch to Android to get this.

    As Jerry says, is has to be reliable… It has to be rock-sold durable as in 4 years or more. Meanwhile, for $1,398 one can buy an iPnone 13 Pro and an iPad mini, vs. $1799 for Samsung’s latest foldable.These days, with trade-in, the iPhone could cost below $1,000.

    There are pros and cons here. One big advantage is that one can upgrade the iPhone each year, while the iPad remains great as it for years.

    Last year’s Galaxy fold 2 now sells for about $900 used. Expect similar 50% price decline for the fold 3.

    4
    September 19, 2021
  4. Fred Stein said:
    Meanwhile Apple and TSMC are working on chip, storage and screen technologies. That will keep the upgrade cycle going for many years, while Apple grows the size fo the IB and the value of the iPhone the 3rd party App developers.

    1
    September 19, 2021
  5. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    I consider Apple’s recent product announcements to be compelling and incredibly attractive from a consumer’s vantage point. In fact, it makes holiday shopping quite easy. Much of it will be one-stop shopping from my iMac with 3% cash back on the purchases. Whatever Apple introduces next week, next month or next year I’m not concerned about now. The fact is, the iPhone 13 Pro Max will fit nicely in my pocket. I don’t need my iPhone to fold. Apple doesn’t need to chase a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

    3
    September 19, 2021
  6. Gregg Thurman said:
    probably still between two and four years away.

    Before Apple introduces a Home Pod/AppleTV hybrid I continue to believe we’ll see a 5G AirPort Extreme/Express for indoor use and communications with 5G satellites before we see the HomePid hybrid (if we ever see that).

    The 2-4 year time frame fits nicely with that device.

    1
    September 19, 2021
  7. Under the screen fingerprint sensor are likely. Improved AI, voice commands, dictation, lip reading and other advances towards hands-free operation.
    Hybrid onboard power generator. A few drops of water runs your phone for hours. Micro hybrid power sources are already in existence.
    I still expect to see an iPhone with a built-in LED pico projector one day. The applications are limitless. Besides projecting high resolution video/games it could project an image of a keyboard. Motion sensors tell the device which key you tapped. Existing Galaxy Beam was too clunky. Then again, Aiptek makes a pico projector you can add to an iPhone.
    Frankly, folding screens look like a complicated, easy-to-break solution in search of a problem.

    0
    September 20, 2021

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