In early March, Apple Inc. (AAPL) held its “Spring Forward” event, where the Apple Watch got a release date and the ultra-thin new MacBook was unveiled. The rumor mills are now heating up about another Apple Event planned for March 2016.
If it happens in early March, as it did this year, that spring Apple event is only two and a half months away. Here’s what we’re expecting to see Tim Cook and company announce.
Apple Watch 2
If there’s a no-brainer new product announcement for a March 2016 Apple event, that would be the Apple Watch 2.
March would mark one year since the official debut of the original Apple Watch, and with holiday sales over and watchOS 2 released, AAPL will be ready to prime the pump on its smartwatch.
According to IDC, sales of wearables were up nearly 198% in the third quarter, and AAPL remained in second place for worldwide sales. If you narrow that wearable category down to smartwatches, the Apple Watch is No. 1. Consumer interest in wearables is accelerating, and while the original was an excellent start — even if it didn’t hit 40 million units, no one can say holding onto first place in smartwatch sales from the point of launch is a flop — AAPL is going to do everything possible to cement and extend its lead.
Mac Rumors is looking for the Apple Watch 2 to include features such as a dedicated camera for FaceTime video calling, and an improved Wi-Fi chip for more functionality without being tethered to an iPhone.
It’s known that AAPL has been experimenting with additional health and activity sensors, such as one for detecting blood oxygen levels. Further, I wouldn’t expect AAPL to release an Apple Watch 2 without chipping away at two of the primary criticisms of the original iteration: its bulk and short battery life.
iPhone 6c (or iPhone 7c)
When AAPL moved to larger displays with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, many iPhone fans were thrilled — but not all of them.
There is still demand for iPhones with a smaller, 4-inch display. They are easier to operate with one hand and fit in a pocket more easily. There is also continued demand for an AAPL phone that’s less costly than the iPhone 6s line. The current iPhone 5s option is aging, with a two-year-old CPU and no Apple Pay support.
Announcing an iPhone 6c at a March Apple Event (or possibly the iPhone 7c, depending on which generation Apple decides to slot it into) would ensure the company has a viable 4-inch smartphone. The iPhone 6c would provide a less expensive alternative to larger iPhones, an option for those who prefer a smaller size, and would also support Apple Pay — which is important to Apple’s mobile payment ambitions.
Look for the iPhone 6c to be a big upgrade from iPhone 5s, possibly including an A9 CPU, but it’s likely to keep some previous generation hardware (such as the 8MP camera) to prevent it from eating into sales of more expensive iPhones.
A March Apple event announcement would be canny timing for the iPhone 6c, helping to smooth out Apple’s iPhone sales cycle (which tends to dip early each year after the fall upgrade rush subsides). It would also steal some thunder from competitors such as Samsung (SSNLF), who typically release new flagship smartphones in the spring to avoid being buried under new iPhone news.
New Apple TV
It’s a long shot for a March Apple event, but there’s the possibility of a new Apple TV being announced. 9 To 5 Mac reported that Chinese industry tracker Digitimes claims a scoop on a fifth-generation Apple TV with new chips that “drastically improve the hardware performance” while adding new functionality. Digitimes is calling for a launch six months after the current Apple TV’s debut, which falls within a March timeframe.
It would be unusual to announce a new Apple TV just six months after the fourth generation was released. However, AAPL has done this sort of hurry-up release before, launching the iPad 3 in March 2012 and then announcing the iPad 4 in October of the same year.
Will an Apple event happen next March? The timing would fit if the company is planning to follow the iPhone/iPad model and offer yearly updates to the Apple Watch. It’s also perfect timing to disrupt the traditional Galaxy launch window of rival Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones with a new iPhone 6c. And while the company skipped a few years before holding last year’s Spring Forward, previous March Apple events in 2011 and 2012 saw the introduction of the iPad 2, the first Retina display iPad, and the Apple TV 3.
So, it’s entirely plausible. Once the holiday season is over, the watch will be on for those Apple event invites.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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