Sorry for the pun…but as the expression goes, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” and Apple does has a number of things cooking at the moment. Not even going out on a limb with the title of this post; first up – Apple announced this week at the Geneva Auto Show – CarPlay – as described by Apple CMO Philip Schiller “CarPlay: iPhone on Wheels.” (See Apple official press release – a video demo – commentary from MacWorld.) While this is a new product, the impact on the balance sheet will be negligible: Apple sells more iPhones in a month than total yearly auto sales and this is probably some small nominal fee to the auto manufactures to get iOS in the dashboard.
In other Apple news from the most recent Annual Shareholders Meeting, CEO Tim Cook slipped out that Apple TV had revenue of over $1 billion last year; that’s starting to sound less and less like a hobby. This could be the year Apple takes the training wheels off Apple TV and gives us a better remote control and interface, as well as, an App store of unique Apple TV Apps.
Perhaps the most interesting of all is what Apple has up its sleeve (sorry, bad pun again) with wearables. To say the least, I would be stunned if Apple did not do something in this space this year. Just look at the people Apple hired in the last 12 months:
- Kevin Lynch: Former chief technology officer at Adobe. Joined Apple last March. Now manages a large in-house team of former iPod and iOS developers.
- Jay Blahnik: Fitness expert. From Nike. Worked on the FuelBand; known in the field as a trainer and motivational speaker.
- Roy Raymann: Scientist. From Phillips. Expert in non-pharmaceutical methods for improving the quality of sleep; developed miniature sensors for monitoring sleep.
- Paul Deneve: Former CEO, Yves Saint Laurent. Worked at Apple for several years before leading one the most valuable brands in fashion.
- Angela Ahrendts: Former CEO, Burberry. Credited with Burberry’s tech-heavy turnaround. Tapped to head Apple retail, both brick-and-mortar and online.
- Ben Shaffer: Designer. He was the director of Nike’s “Innovation Kitchen,” the R&D lab that produced the FuelBand and the Flyknit shoe.
- Ueyn Block: Was director of engineering at C8 MediSensor, which developed a non-invasive way to glucose levels and other vital signs.
- Nancy Dougherty: Hardware engineer. At Proteus Digital Health she worked on smart patches and ingestible, Bluetooth-connected smart pills. Most recently, she worked as a hardware lead for Sano Intelligence, whose tagline reads “the API for the bloodstream.”
- Todd Whitehurst: Hardware development. As Senseonics’s VP of hardware engineering, he ran the engineering team for a wireless, smartphone-connected body sensor for monitoring glucose levels in real time.
- Michael O’Reilly: Former chief medical officer for Masimo, which markets a wireless pulse oximeter for the iPhone.
- Ravi Narashamian: Expert in biosensors and wireless communications. At Vital Connect he focused on sensors for measuring respiration and activity levels with wearable devices.
I would call this a lot of smoke! Moreover, this is on top of a leaked report from the New York Times that Apple executives were in Washington DC in December 2013 to get FDA approval for some medical functionality for an Apple device.
To wrap up – wearables and TV will definitely need new App platforms and I believe CarPlay would also need some modification as well. That means, Apple will have to make a number of announcements around early summer for their World Wide Developers Conference to get the Apple software community on board.
Something to watch this year…
Associate Professor of Marketing
Stillman School of Business
Seton Hall University