Apple's Verizon iPhone is almost a lock for a launch this year, according to Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster. Also, expect an iPhone 5, iPad 2 and iTunes streaming service in 2011.
A year ago at this time, the world was wondering whether
Verizon Wireless would launch Apple's iPhone on its leading network.
Now, it's not a matter of if--but when--as Piper Jaffray
analyst Gene Munster put the probability that Verizon would launch a CDMA
(Code Division Multiple Access)
version of Apple's iPhone by the company's March quarter at 95 percent.
Munster further expects
Verizon will activate 9 million iPhones in 2011, comprising 36 percent
of Verizon's estimated 25 million smartphone activations.
That long-anticipated launch--the iPhone has been on
AT&T in the U.S. since its inception in 2007--will lead a number of key
Apple announcements. Many of them will directly compete
with Google's own Android ambitions in the mobile computing space.
While Munster does not expect Apple to enter any new
product categories this year, he believes the company will unveil new versions
of all its major products.
Munster, who likes to put probability figures on his
predictions, expects with 100 percent certainty the Mac App Store launch to
happen Jan. 6. He is less certain about new Mac computers.
"We have moderate confidence that Apple will release redesigned
MacBook Pros in 1H11 [the first half of 2011] and redesigned iMacs in 2H11 [the second half]," Munster wrote in his
Jan. 3 research note. However, Munster does forecast that the
next-generation Mac OS X Lion version will surface this summer.
The iPad, which Munster believes shipped 14.5 million
units in the U.S. in 2010, is currently sold in 30 countries. He expects the
device will roll out to more than 100 other countries at a 100 percent
He, like the rest of the world, also expects an iPad 2
coming in the spring. The iPad 2 is expected to be thinner, lighter and will sport
front and rear cameras to enable FaceTime video chat.
The analyst has a 90 percent probability rate on the
iTunes cloud services, which would likely compete with any Google Music
offering the search rolls out for Android smartphones this year.
Further borrowing from Google's cloud playbook, new Apple
Web services could include expanded support for document storage in the cloud
(like Google Apps), or remote computing capabilities for Macs and iPads via the
cloud (like Chrome OS).
Looking forward to summer 2011, the analyst expects Apple
to introduce the iPhone 5 with NFC (near field communications) technology to rival
Google's recent Samsung Nexus S device
The Nexus S
an NFC chip and runs Android 2.3, which has native NFC support to enable
short-range wireless communications between gadgets and contact terminals.
"We believe the new Nexus S, like the Nexus One,
will set the standard for new high-end Android devices, suggesting NFC chips
could be included with growing frequency," Munster wrote.
In the near future, the market will see applications that enable
payments via the simple swipe of smartphones within inches of a checkout
appliance. Google and Apple will effectively be in a mobile-payment
arms race by the end of 2011.
Polishing his crystal ball some more, Munster
said Apple could enter the television market in earnest by the end of 2012.
The new Apple TV has shipped 1 million-plus units in a
short period of time, but Munster expects an Apple TV set with a full Mac OS X
operating system and a Safari Web browser.
"While Apple's commitment to the living room remains
a 'hobby,' we continue to believe the company will enter the TV
market with a full focus, as an all-in-one Apple television could move the
needle when connected TVs proliferate," Munster noted.
This means even tougher competition for Google TV, Roku,
Boxee and others trying to meld the Web world with the TV world. It also means
more choices for consumers.