Over the last couple of weeks, rumors of an Apple Car project have gained a lot of attention. Reaction to the rumors has covered the gamut: We have "Apple will absolutely make a car" on one end, "Apple would never make a car" on the other, and lots of jokes in-between. Often these reactions come from people who at one time famously — or infamously — also said "Apple will absolutely make a television" or "Apple will never make a watch". Both miss the most urgent lesson history has been trying to teach us all — with Apple and future product categories, it's best not to speak in absolutes.
Following the introduction of the iPhone, there were rumors of Apple making a tablet. Following the introduction of the iPad, there were rumors of Apple making a television or a watch. Following the introduction of the Apple Watch, there were rumors of Apple making a car. Whenever we get the new big thing, we humans invariably turn our attention to the next big thing. Doesn't matter if it's a gadget or a cupcake, the future is always more compelling than the present. Apple anticipation is greater than Apple itself.
Dreams are boundless: An unannounced Apple phone or tablet or watch or car can be anything we imagine it to be. The possibilities are endless. An announced Apple phone or tablet or watch or car is what it is — grotesque or magnificent to the beholder. And we humans tend to have loose opinions, strongly held. "Apple would never call it the iPhone 5!" still echoes across the internet, as does "Apple would never make a watch!"
But Apple, being a company we do not control, ultimately gets to do whatever they would like to. They're the most successful company in the history of successful companies. And Apple is very good at focusing on only a few things at a time. In part, this the tension that's helped them become so successful.
That's why insisting Apple must do something or would never do something is folly (or attention baiting). The long arc of time has proven it so, over and over again.
Apple can explore tablets, switch over to making a phone, then switch back to making a tablet. Apple can look into making televisions and watches, but ultimately go ahead with the watch. Apple can check out stylus pens and cars and any number of other, logical things, and then carefully, strategically choose which product the company will put its weight behind — and when.
There's a short list of products which would be negligent for Apple not to consider, and there's an even shorter list that's being particularly considered. Some of those products will end up on the market as new hardware, some will be new services like Apple Pay, or whatever comes after iTunes Radio. And some of those will remain forever locked in the vaults of Infinite Loop.
Instead of thinking about what Apple must or would never do, think like Apple does: What problems exist that the company is uniquely positioned to solve? Where can Apple make a great product that makes a significant contribution, and also increases the overall value of existing products? Whatever product best answers those questions is the product you should expect to see from the company.
And eventually, Apple will hold an event for that product and announce it, we'll all blast the internet with our thoughts and opinions... and a very short time later, a new round of rumors will captivate the world — about what comes after this "next" product, of course.