Apple’s (AAPL) Worldwide Developer Conference — WWDC 2014 — is fast approaching, and as the June 2 start day draws near, the Apple rumors are flying.
The latest news suggests Apple will announce a home automation platform, starring the iPhone as a remote control for all your connected devices.
While Apple is remaining close-lipped about the speculation, it wouldn’t be a shock for the company to make a surprise announcement. After all, past WWDC editions have featured hardware reveals like the iPhone 4 and the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. At the same time AAPL is under pressure from its Board, investors and customers to ramp up innovation with new product lines.
The time seems right for WWDC 2014 to be about more than the next OSX and iOS versions or confirmation of a Beats Audio acquisition. Here are five of the front-runners when it comes to Apple rumors for new product announcements at next week’s keynote, including the game-changing iHome.
Apple Rumors: iHome
The iHome is the big rumor of the moment. Home automation is a hot category. Connected lighting, thermostats, appliances, cameras and security systems are proliferating and most have an iOS app to control them … sort of.
What’s lacking is a platform to standardize and integrate all these devices. I have a door lock, web cams, Philips (PHG) Hue LED smart lights, connected light switches and a smart thermostat installed in my home and I can control each of them with my iPhone, but they each use their own app. Having a single iPhone interface to control all these devices would go a long way toward popularizing home automation.
Dubbed “iHome” in the Apple rumors, this WWDC reveal would be Apple’s play to control the home with its own standard an an iPhone remote control for everything. This could be a profitable and high growth new line of business, but it faces competition from other tech giants.
If AAPL is going to make a play for the connected home, it needs to do so soon before Samsung and Google establish a big lead and it’s likely to bake “iHome” functionality into iOS 8 — which we know will be on display at WWDC.
Apple Rumors: iPhone 6
We’re pretty sure that Apple is releasing two iPhone 6 models this year and there are strong indicators one of those will be delayed due to production issues.
Using WWDC to unveil the first of the iPhones would let Apple do an early release, overcoming the traditional slow quarter as iPhone faithful hold off waiting for the traditional September release. The resulting numbers would undoubtedly please AAPL investors. Doing so would also give a few months for the excitement to settle down before priming the pump again with the second, larger iPhone late in the year.
And don’t forget, the iPone 4 was a WWDC 2010 reveal, so it’s possible Apple could break with the fall announcement tradition this year.
Apple Rumors: Apple Television
We’ve heard about an Apple branded television for so long that it’s basically an urban myth at this point.
Still, AAPL has showed renewed interest in the living room as its Apple TV streaming box sales have taken off. At the same time, video game console makers as well as Google and Amazon (AMZN) are also flexing their muscle and making the current generation Apple TV (reviewed here) look dated.
It’s possible that a refreshed Apple TV streamer — one with video game capability that takes advantage of the vast iOS app ecosystem — could make an appearance. Maybe this time they’ll ditch the mini remote (the one that keeps getting lost in couch cushions) and go with an iPhone remote by default.
A very, very long shot is a glimpse of an actual Apple-branded television. Stranger things have happened….
Apple Rumors: iWatch
Rival Samsung is now two generations into its Galaxy Gear smartwatch line, and CNET’s Scott Stein is among those who think the company may be prepping a version for this summer that acts as its own cell-phone as well.
At the same time, Google, Microsoft and others are hard at work on their own versions.
Apple needs to get its iWatch out there before it’s buried in a sea of options. Giving Samsung three times to get it right before even making a first attempt could turn out to be a big mistake and those standalone smartwatch rumors may be enough to force Apple’s hand and see Tim Cook finally take the wraps off the iWatch at WWDC 2014.
Apple Rumors: Retina MacBook Air
Although Apple recently released refreshed versions of its incredibly popular MacBook Air subnotebook (read our review here), the only upgrade was a slight speed bump. The MacBook Air not only looks identical to versions from three years ago, it still sports a low-resolution display.
Compared to competing UltraBooks — many of which offer Full HD or better resolution, touchscreen capability and come with cheaper price tags — the MacBook Air is falling behind.
Then there are the expanding field of Chromebooks and the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Both aimed at the MacBook Air, both offering display options that blow away Apple’s offering.
With the back-to-school laptop buying season only a few months away, WWDC would be a good time to reveal the 12-inch Retina Display MacBook Air Apple fans have been clamoring for.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.