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Thursday, July 25, 2013

What Are Apple’s ‘Amazing’ New Products?

On Tuesday, Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, again teased tech blogs about new Apple gadgetry.

“We are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014,” Mr. Cook said at the company’s earnings call.

What could these elusive “new products” be? Here are a few possibilities:

Since at least late 2011, Apple has been trying to figure out how to reinvent the television. At that time, Apple employees and people close to the company, all speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a television “was not actively being built, but Apple would eventually make a television.” But they did say it wasn’t a question of whether Apple would expand into the television market, but a question of when.

Since then, many reports have indicated that the company continues to explore television-related products. In March, speaking at the D: All Things Digital technology conference, Mr. Cook said Apple had ”a very grand vision” for the television.

Just making a fancy television set with an Apple logo on it would be underwhelming, because there are plenty of nice TVs already. But the way people find things to watch with a clunky remote control or a cumbersome channel interface is ripe for disruption. Apple is collaborating with distributors like Time Warner Cable and some content providers on fixing these problems on set-top boxes before moving further into TV land.

A new product that is most likely to come in the near future sounds less than revolutionary: a less expensive iPhone. Apple already sells older-generation iPhone models for less than the latest model, but the company’s devices are struggling to gain traction in some big markets overseas, namely China. Apple still has not struck a deal to sell iPhones with China’s biggest cellphone carrier, China Mobile, which has 600 million subscribers. A cheaper, new iPhone model â€" perhaps one with a plastic back instead of metal â€" could be the card Apple needs to play in order to persuade the carrier.

And, of course, there’s the so-called AppleiWatch. The iWatch, as it has been nicknamed, is expected to have a curved screen and would be Apple’s first serious foray into wearable computing.

All of the right pieces seem to line up for the iWatch, too. Corning, the maker of the ultra-tough Gorilla Glass that is used in the iPhone, has scaled the engineering challenge of creating bendable glass that could be used in the iWatch.

Recent reports by Forrester Research predict that the next devices and platforms that companies should focus on will be based on wearable computing.

Or Apple could enter an entirely new product category. But that seems unlikely. As Philip W. Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said last year, Apple executives once talked about making “crazy stuff,” including an Apple car.