Having wrapped up the fairly well-thought-out and fairly grounded predictions for 2010, we thought it would be a good idea to try to take a look further in to the future of Apple. Now, before you proceed, you should be aware that looking beyond a one-year outlook is notoriously difficult. After all, at this point 10 years ago, Apple was more than a year away from shipping iTunes software, let alone making iPods and disrupting the mobile phone industry. So you should be aware that I refuse to stand by any of these five predictions over the long haul and expect to be wrong. With that, let’s take a look into the far future. All the way past the year 2000.
In the Year 2012, Apple Will Buy Both Yahoo! and TBWA/Chiat Day, Simultaneous Entering Both the Internet Services and Ad Industries at the Same Time. I actually don’t think this one’s insane. Yahoo! continues to struggle against Google, the ad industry is in need of grounds-up reinvention, and Apple has more cash on hand than pretty much anyone else. At this point, Steve Jobs is running out of challenges in both Apple’s existing and immediately adjacent businesses. To cement his reputation as the best CEO of the next decade, he should create a juggernaut capable of challenging Google.
In the Year 2014, Steve Jobs Will Step Down as CEO of Apple to Take on a New Role as Chief Creative Officer/Chairman. It’s abundantly clear that the operations of culture of Apple are incredibly healthy, even without Steve coming into the office. Steve’s one piece of magic is being involved with the creation of every single one of Apple’s most revolutionary products. Tim Cook’s recent stint as interim CEO is clear evidence that Steve could devote all of his time to innovation and marketing without hurting the stock price. There’s no chance Steve will actually retire before the end of his life, but it will be for the good of the company for his health to never again be a factor in the stock price.
In the Year 2016, Apple Will Announce the End of Desktop Computing, Bring Blade Computing Home. Ever since Intel brought real power to portables with the original Core Duo, the desktop computer has become an increasing anachronism for everyone but professional media producers. Though the iMac’s sales remain strong, within the next six years, the difference between mobile and desktop chips will be utterly irrelevant. Apple, as it has many other times, will be the first in and first out for the market, eliminating desktops completely in favor of an elegant system of portables plus docks, offering the best of both worlds. Please note that I didn’t say “laptops”. If all goes well, the Tablet will be the next generation of portable computing, capable of turning into a laptop or a desktop with the right supporting hardware. And the coup de grace? The ultimate replacement for the Mac Pro. The hottest thing going in servers right now are blade systems, which allow users to configure dozens of low-cost modules (storage, networking, processors) into a custom, monstrous beast of a computer that suits their particular needs. The next great leap forward in workstations will do the same, accomodating a variety of modules in a stylish enclosure to make a killer audio/video/graphics machine with a removable portable for remote use. As Steve will remark, “The workstation is dead. Long live the Works Station.”
In the Year 2018, Apple Will Introduce the First Computer Made of Self-Healing Metal. We all love the unibody Macs. They’re ridiculously strong and stylish, and you could easily through them through a brick wall without much visible scarring. But it’s still vulnerable, and when one falls to the ground, we still cringe. All that will change in 2018, as Apple introduces the iShift, a remarkable device that changes shape to accomodate a variety of uses. The iShift uses a new kind of selectively malleable metal to transform and heal for different applications and in the event of disaster.
In the Year 2019, Apple Will Launch Skynet, Begin Systematic Destruction of Human Race. John Connor, you’re our only hope. Seriously.