Some Apple Predictions for 2013: Cheap iPhone, Apple Television, and MacBook Air iOS

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The year is coming to a close and analysts, pundits, and even simpler scriveners like me are starting on their crystal ball gazing predictions for Apple next year. Boy Genius Report quotes analyst Adnaan Ahmad’s predictions for next year including a cheap iPhone, an Apple Television, and a MacBook Air running iOS. Thoughts? Read on.

The BGR post starts off with a sentence that I just have to include because it’s so true (and has the delightful touch of irony given how secretive Apple is):

Predicting the future when it comes to Apple has been fairly easy lately thanks to the company’s component suppliers in the Far East, which have been leaking like sieves for years.

First up is the cheap iPhone. Gene Munster predicted 2014 (or rather by 2014), but Adaan Ahmad thinks 2013 is the year:

“We think that it is inevitable that Apple launches a tailored, low-cost iPhone in 2013 to address the burgeoning mass market opportunity. We note that there are over 150 million subscribers in Europe on pre-paid contracts whom Apple is not really addressing today,” the analyst wrote in a research note. “The issue that Apple faces is one of growth. Given that the high-end is a maximum 20-25% of the market and that Apple’s global smartphone share is in the 15-20% range, it can only grow by another 5% in this market category unless it prices its existing product cheaper (read lower margins) or develops a completely new tailored solution.”

The cheap iPhone rumor comes up pretty often. Right now we have “cheaper” iPhones and they are called the previous generation models. However there are solid arguments for making a cheap iPhones for growing markets (which North America and Europe aren’t). Since Apple makes so much money from app, music, and other purchases having an iPhone that is a loss-leader could make sense. Lose a little money on each device, make it up in iTunes revenue. Apple did just open up iTunes music to over 50 new countries this week, and many of those in “growing markets”, so the stage could be set for a low profit iPhone that is essentially subsidized not by carriers but music.

I’m still not 100% convinced of an Apple Television next year, but given Apple’s success with displays of various kinds, streaming content, and entertainment, why not. It would make expanding their media empire easier. Gene Munster guessed we’d see an Apple Television this time next year—An Apple Television for Next Holiday Season?—which meshes with Ahmad’s thoughts:

“[Apple] can obviously implement some of its differentiated design characteristics to the TV, but the latest Samsung (005930), LG (066570) and even Sony (SNY) TVs are very appealing,” he wrote. “So differentiation could come through a combination of hardware, software and services – i.e. the existing iOS subscriber base is obviously the targeted initial market for such a product, but to gain lots of traction, a subscription-based services model with differentiated or unique to user/adjusted to user/à la carte content is the way to go.”

And couples with the iTunes-based subscriptions media offerings that are very profitable for Apple.

The last of Ahmad’s predictions gets this reaction from BGR:

Last — and least — the analyst thinks will launch a MacBook Air powered by iOS in 2013. His logic is sound… his reasons are well thought-out… and we give this one a 0% chance of happening.

We already have a MacBook Air running iOS. It’s called the iPad 4 with an external keyboard. Between better apps and improvements in iOS, I could certainly go all iOS for a day without skipping a beat. I might have to put my money where my mouth is on that.

Granted a MacBook Air running iOS isn’t too much different from a Chromebook running Chrome OS (which I’d still like to try for a while), an iOS MBA would really confuse the iPad line. Is it an iPad or is it a MacBook?

We’re working on our own predictions, but what do you think of these? Did they miss a big thing you think is coming next year?

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