Apple's Next Big Hit
There has been a lot of talk about stagnation at Apple. They had the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and now what. Talk of a TV is constant, but always has some trepidation about it. There are rumors of a watch. But other than that, no one is quite sure where the next big revenue stream will come from. Most analysts seem to be blaming this situation for the lack of stock performance.
Here are my thoughts on where they will go -
TV: They are going to keep building Apple TV as it stands now with a huge focus on the content and not the hardware. I think there is a lot of room for them to enter the smart TV market, but I don't think they will. I don't understand why because I think the margins are there, they could hurt their competition, and they could likely win at a price point that is 20% higher than the competition. Lastly, there is a nice tiered system in TV's that Apple could help clarify and profit from. They could offer 32", 42", 50". All 1080p, all with Apple TV installed. And all with at least a $100 mark up over the competitor because of their design and simple marketing as well as interactivity with all other Apple products.
Watch: They might do it, but I don't see the value or that it will help the business much. Unless it is something that we just can't even think of that has features that go well beyond Pebble and other smart watches, it seems the market is small and the revenue stream non significant.
Gaming: This is an area that no one seems to be talking about, but seems ripe for entry. I doubt it would come in the form of a traditional gaming system like the Xbox, but I could definitely see the next version of Apple TV being opened up for more robust gaming. All they'd have to do would be add Blue Tooth controllers and get game studios on board (which most already are because of iOS). There is a ton of money, it integrates with their game center service as is, and would help them close the gap in the living room experience where they are vulnerable against Microsoft, Sony, and TV manufacturers as well as Roku (and Amazon, Netflix, hulu via proxy)
Services: They seem to be building a foundation with passbook that could set them up to take on the virtual wallet market in a way that leapfrogs paypal and square and groupon (they're building a POS system for this reason). I can't quite figure out how it would all come together, but if the next iPad and iPhone have NFC, it isn't too hard to imagine buying clothes at Gap with an iPhone and iPad as the checkout processor.
Automotive: Siri is already being offered in partnerships with automakers. I'm not sure how else Apple could get involved, but it seems plausible that they could offer iOS to the automakers and open up a new kind of app development for cars. That market is lagging behind personal mobile technology in a bad way and it may take someone like Apple to think through it clearly enough to provide guidelines and boundaries in order to build safe and successful interactions in the car.