Macworld 2014 opened with a bang this year. As the biggest Apple-dedicated tech conference began, five industry analysts got together to talk about Apple's products and their future. In the hourlong round table talk, Apple’s biggest products were discussed; from iPhone to Apple TV, nothing was off limits. Moderator Jason Snell, senior VP and editorial director of IDG Consumer, asked opinions of Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies, Christina Bonnington from Wired, Rene Richie, editor-in-chief of iMore.com, and Dan Moren, senior editor of Macworld. Here is what they had to say.
The overall feeling for Apple’s set-top box was good. Even though Rene Richie lives in Canada, he expressed that the content agreement with Comcast may be a good thing for Apple and the device. Dan Moren echoed that sentiment, saying, “Apple TV is the most Apple can do without cable providers.” Ultimately, broadcast is still a major part of the television experience for most of America, noted Jason Snell, and bringing that content to Apple’s device would help Apple bridge the gap from iFans to the mass consumer.
Ben Bajarin shot down the idea of an Apple television set, saying that it’s more of a “dumb glass, smart box” mentality. Apple doesn’t need to compete with television manufacturers when they can specialize in bringing content to that same set. “If you're not in the business of making the glass, why would you want to get into that?” asked Snell. Rene Richie agreed, stating, “It’s Occam’s Razor for these things.” When supply chains rumored that they were working on a 27-inch screen, it turned out to be a 27-inch iMac, not a television, Richie said.
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Most of the discussion about Apple’s computer line was positive, with all five people agreeing that Apple has a pretty solid offering right now. The discussion moved to the MacBook Air, as it is most likely to be updated soon. With the most recent update to OSX, Mavericks has helped overcome waning battery issues. This led Christina Bonnington to speculate that the MacBook Air could get a Retina display. Currently the MacBook Air is the only device without the bright and colorful display, mainly due to the power consumption of the screen.
Snell queried the panelists if the computing line would merge with the portable iOS offerings. Bajarin stated it simply, “Keeping the lines diverged is a good idea as it doesn’t cause confusion.” If you want something basic, get an iPad; if you want something more powerful, get a Mac.
They panel started off joking about the “rumors” of an iPhone 6. “I know an iPhone 6 is coming because I can count,” Snell said. But whether the iPhone 6 will be offered in a larger screen is still somewhat unclear. Bajarin postulated that the larger-screened device might do really well in emerging markets, where consumers only have a single device, but won’t do nearly as well in the United States and Europe since customers aren’t seemingly that interested in the phablet market.
Richie agreed stating that people have been choosing iPhones over larger- screened Android devices. Bonnington also agreed that Apple doesn’t need a larger iPhone, stating that she needs a phone to fit into her pocket as well as her hand. However, Bajarin countered by showing that Apple offers all of its devices except the iPhone in “small, medium and large” sizes.
The iPad was resoundingly hailed as near perfect already. For what it does, the iPad doesn’t need much improvement, according to the panel. Richie stated that customers won’t see a big update later this year because the iPad Air just launched. The five suggested that the next iPad will most likely include Touch ID and will be faster and lighter. Bajarin speculated that Apple may include a camera update and possible 4K video. Moren said he would like to see multiple profiles and a better, truer multitasking solution.