Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had a pretty good 2017, all things considered. And so did investors in AAPL stock.
Sure, there were some low points. The company’s decision to not tell customers it was intentionally slowing older iPhones led to some seriously negative PR, as well as a costly discounted battery replacement program. There was controversy over the iPhone X, including reported production issues, the oddly timed staggered released date, the ditching of Touch ID in favor of Face ID, and the lofty $999 starting price. And then there was the delayed release of the HomePod smart speaker.
Despite the challenges, AAPL stock hit record highs in 2017, gaining 46% on the year.
So after 2017, what should we expect from Apple in 2018?
Here are 10 things to watch for.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: HomePod Smart Speaker
This first one is a no-brainer: the $349 HomePod smart speaker.
First announced last June and scheduled for a December release, the HomePod was pushed until 2018. That meant Apple missed the crucial holiday shopping period. Meanwhile, market leaders Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) racked up another 11 million smart speaker sales.
Apple announced the HomePod will be in stores February 9 (pre-orders have started already). The speaker will be missing two key features, however, stereo pairing and multi-room audio.
Once expected to move the needle for AAPL stock due to massive demand for smart speakers, the question now is whether the HomePod is arriving too late to catch the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: iPhone X Plus
The iPhone X appears to be a hit with Apple fans. So how does the company keep the excitement going in 2018 without a complete redesign?
Apple’s go-to strategy has been to add a larger “plus-sized” model to the lineup. And although the iPhone X already has the largest display in an iPhone, that’s based on diagonal measurement not actual screen area. With its edge-to-edge OLED panel, Apple has room to make the iPhone X display even larger without the resulting phone being cumbersome to hold.
Look for a 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus in 2018, carrying a premium price — even compared to the $999 iPhone X.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: iPhone 9
Don’t count out Apple’s more pedestrian iPhones in 2018.
The ‘lowly’ iPhone 8 seems to have outsold the iPhone X during the holiday quarter. So don’t expect Apple to leave money on the table in the form of potential iPhone buyers who aren’t prepared to drop $999 or more on an iPhone X.
That’s where the iPhone 9 comes in.
Rumors about new Apple products are always sketchy, especially when it’s many months before they go into production. However, speculation is that Apple may offer a 6.1-inch model with a TrueDepth camera, but a less expensive LCD display. That could well be the iPhone 9.
With iPhone sales being the engine behind AAPL stock growth, an iPhone 9 is virtually guaranteed to join the 2018 iPhone X and iPhone X Plus this fall — whatever it ends up looking like.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: TV Shows For Apple TV
Apple TV once held a lead in the living room as the most popular video streaming device. But competitors — including Roku Inc (NASDAQ:ROKU) — have long since passed it by.
In 2017, Apple began to push back. New Apple TV hardware with 4K and HDR support was the starting point. Then, the company started to move into original TV programming and is rumored to be spending $1 billion on up to 10 original TV shows in 2018.
Plus, the exclusive content will help to make the Apple TV hardware more attractive to buyers.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: The Death Of MacBook Air
Apple’s MacBook Air laptop turns 10 in 2018. And it may not survive the year.
The MacBook Air was one of those new Apple products that spawned many competitors. But while revolutionary in 2008, the MacBook Air now is far behind the competition –and Apple’s own MacBook. In particular, its low resolution display seems incredibly dated.
Apple killed the 11.6-inch Macbook Air in 2016, but kept the 13-inch model as its most affordable laptop. Current speculation is increasingly pointing to the MacBook Air finally being killed off entirely this year in favor of an entry-level 13-inch MacBook.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: AirPods 2
Apple’s AirPods wireless earbuds have been on the market for over a year now. It’s time for AirPods 2.
Although their unusual design was mocked when Apple first showed them off, a surprisingly affordable price, decent performance and clever marketing paid off. In 2017 –a year when Bluetooth headphone sales were taking off– the AirPods sold like hotcakes.
By July, they were estimated to have grabbed a remarkable 85% of the money spent on wireless headphones in the U.S.
Look for the AirPods 2 in 2018. If nothing else, Apple will at least offer additional color options for those who are tired of white.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: The New Mac Pro
Apple’s Mac Pro is a professional desktop computer that starts at $2,999 — but it’s filled with four year-old technology and lacks the expansion capabilities these users need.
To rectify the situation, senior Apple executives held a rare round table discussion last year where they promised an all new Mac Pro in 2018.
While the iPhone is king, Mac sales are still important to Apple’s bottom line and AAPL stock. They accounted for over $7 billion in revenue last quarter.
A new Mac Pro is important for keeping professional users in the Apple camp, so expect it to be a big deal in 2018.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: iPad Pro With Face ID
Face ID has become a signature feature of the iPhone X. It only makes sense the technology would make its way into other new Apple products.
The iPad Pro is a natural place to start. Removing the Home button and replacing Touch ID with Face ID gives Apple the ability to offer more display space without increasing the size of the device. And with the iPad Pro, screen real estate is very important.
With iPad sales staging a comeback in 2017, look for Apple to keep the momentum going in 2018 with a Face ID-equipped iPad Pro.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: Apple Watch Series 4
After a bit of a wobbly start and a re-focus on health and fitness, the Apple Watch has turned into a genuine success. Last year it hit multiple consecutive quarters with sales increases of 50% or more.
Last year also saw the Apple Watch Series 3, the first version of the watch to offer LTE connectivity for use without an iPhone.
It’s a safe bet that this September will see an Apple Watch Series 4 debut. The big question is what new features Apple could possibly incorporate. The company has been hard at work on health-related technology, but improved battery life remains high on many current owners’ wish lists.
10 Things To Expect From Apple In 2018: New Records For AAPL Stock
With a slew of new Apple products expected — including the iPhone 9, iPhone X Plus and Apple Watch Series 4 — 2018 is shaping up to be a good year for the company.
And despite late 2017 challenges like the iPhone battery scandal and HomePod delay, AAPL stock is still up over 3% since the start of the year.
At this point it seems safe to predict that AAPL stock will once again set new records in 2018.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.