The Horn Effect: Why Apple should keep making displays and routers!

I've heard the above quote attributed to Steve Jobs several times and it fits with the "thousand nos for every yes" mantra Tim Cook has been repeating over the last few years as well. It makes sense for a company that, despite its size and last decade of success, still runs like a web of small startups. But that doesn't make it sting any less when some of those "nos" hit the products I love.

Two recent product decisions, one real, one rumored, have hit me particularly close to home lately: Apple Display and AirPort Routers.

Death of the display

When the last Apple Display debuted after the IPS iMac it was a revelation. A gorgeous 27-inch panel that also worked as a hub for the full range of MacBooks. It was updated for Thunderbolt, but as the iMac got thinner, went 5K, and went DCI-P3, bringing sleeker design, better sharpness, and wider color to the market, the Apple Display got left behind.

Last summer Apple announced they were discontinuing the old Thunderbolt Display. This led some to believe Apple was getting out of the display business entirely and others that they were merely clearing the deck for the long rumored Apple 4K and 5K Displays. Ultimately, this past October, Apple announced new 4K and 5K displays… from LG.

I'm sure Apple put enormous effort into working with LG on them, but the industrial design was decidedly not-Apple, and the branding was pure LG.

Rumors on the router

Apple AirPort Extreme Time Capsule

Apple AirPort Extreme Time Capsule (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Rumor has it Apple may be discontinuing the AirPort Extreme, Express, and Time Capsule as well. Though an early driver of wireless technologies and still offering an 802.11ac version that's up-to-date-ish with Wi-Fi standards — and still top rated for customer sat! — there's no denying the AirPorts haven't been updated in years either.

Meanwhile next-generation mesh networking routerss from Ubiquity, Netgear, eero, and even Google have launched that are more robust and even easier to set up — using an iPhone app, no less.

Some have likewise taken these rumors as Apple exiting the router business while others again hope it's Apple clearing the deck for a next gen Home Hub product.

Niche needs

According to numbers I heard bandied about last year, only a very small, single digit percentage of MacBook Anything owners regularly connect to external displays. I don't know what percentage use AirPorts for Wi-Fi, but in a world with multiple vendors, it's inarguably not big business for Apple.

That makes people like me, who've owned multiple generations of Apple Displays and AirPorts, the minority, not the mainstream majority. And it makes it tough to argue, based on numbers alone, that Apple should devote some of their deliberately limited focus and resources on accessories rather than devices.

But not all arguments should be based on numbers.

Making a difference

Apple still offers Magic accessories for Mac, with features like Force Touch that no other vendor can supply. Likewise Apple Pencil. The Smart Keyboard is something that, even though Logitech makes one as well, shows the way forward for iPad Pro. Likewise Smart Battery Case, and even dongles. Not all Apple accessories are things only Apple could do, though, but they're mostly low ticket items like docks and cases.

MacBooks are no longer bound to MagSafe, though, and that means anyone can make a USB-C display. But not the experience.

If, for an end-user, the interface is the app, then the display is experience. I've used Apple Displays with Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, but when I'm using it, the machine behind it disappears. All I see is the display.

Right now, for me, that display still has Apple on the logo and in the design. It makes it apparent I'm using an Apple product, which reassures me and delivers the kind of ecosystem value Apple typically appreciates and optimizes for. It's the type of awareness other brands pay billions for in posters and placements. Giving it away to LG or anyone seems imprudent, especially long term.

Same for the AirPort. Right now I have a Time Capsule that just works to back up my Mac whenever I'm in Wi-Fi range. I'd love one with mesh support, but right now I'm considering my next router with mesh support and without an Apple logo.

Maybe it won't be a concern, and an Apple Home hub will materialize, and it'll have all sorts of "only Apple" benefits like local/cloud fusion for iCloud and updates, and wireless distance charging for the next iPhone, or whatever. But I don't know and I don't like that I don't know.

The horn effect

As profit centers go, displays and routers and their ilk are likely less than a rounding error for Apple. They also pull focus. Part of Apple's success, though, has been the halo effect — once you start buying something Apple, you keep buying more things Apple. Once you get the device, you get the accessories. The opposite — a horn effect? — would be buying non-Apple accessories leading to buying non-Apple devices.

A few more small yeses help support the bigger yeses. Mind share is invaluable and that makes it feel like key accessories, niche or not, are something Apple should absolutely still be in.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I think this is one of the better articles you've written in a while, no disrespect intended. I've been increasingly suspect of the direction that Apple is intending to go in and while some of their decisions make sense, more and more of them don't. There is a tipping point.
  • I certainly think that it is a mistake not to offer a monitor. The Thunderbolt display was great as it offered a super elegant way to connect up a laptop in a docking station mode and to highlight and educate their customers on how to do this. There didn't seem to be able competing products that offered all the features in this elegant manner. The LG monitors just don't look the part even if they technically do everything you could ask for. Maybe other manufacturers will jump in and fill the gap. Not so sure about routers though. These are much more out of the way kit and my broadband provider gives me one anyway so I don't need to buy one myself.
  • What would it have taken for Apple to do the industrial design of the monitors built by LG? They took the cynical lazy way out. What do you think it takes to engineer a current generation router? This is not a task for 100 engineers. It's a standard. Do you actually think they couldn’t have designed a router for manufacture by a third party with an Apple logo on it? Instead, they take the lazy cynical way of eliminating products, that while not profit centers, certainly contributed to the halo effect and allure of the Apple brand. I have set up many Apple routers for new users by pointing to the setup utility and saying,"you configure it. It's not hard." No, Apple's in a cash grab, with nothing new on the horizon, milking smartphones for profits and building lavish new headquarters. These are all signs of companies in slow decline.
  • The death of Apple branded display is a canary in the coal mine for Mac mini and Mac Pro. Display is the most prominent part of a desktop computer. Apple exiting the display market send a clear signal that the company intends to discontinue two least popular desktops in few years, if not sooner. I may be in the minority, but the death of Wi-Fi routers isn't too surprising. Apple's Wi-Fi routers weren't updated in awhile and the last time they were updated, they were very minor and out-of-date. Meanwhile, many mesh network routers are nearly as easy to configure as AirPort and Time Capsule (if not more so) while delivering significantly better performance and looking spiffy to boot. As for my feelings in general, as a Mac fan, Apple's lack of investment makes me sad. I use MacBook Pro and I am actually pleased with the latest update overall (minus lack of 32GB RAM option). But I am also a fan of using Mac as a server and it's been pretty depressing to see Apple's lack of investment in server market. xServe -- gone. Mac Pro tower -- gone. Mac mini Server -- gone. And now, with the display gone, trash can Mac Pro and Mac mini are probably goners too. And I have no intention of using iMac or MacBooks as a server.
  • "Apple exiting the display market send a clear signal that the company intends to discontinue two least popular desktops in few years, if not sooner." Doesn't signal that at all. Death of the Mac mini & Mac Pro, at this time, are still premature. If you don't see or hear anything by WWDC 2017 then I'd start to worry
  • I totally agree with your comment. I have a Mac Mini (early 2009 Mac Mini 2GHz, 8GB, 750GB drive), 6S & iPad Pro. I have been wanted to upgrade the MM this since 2012 but didn't since I wanted more graphics power than the late 2012 model offered. (BTW- I did buy that model for my wife at the time- who still uses it.) Now that Apple soldered the MM memory & dropped the i7 quad core, I've lost interest in it & have no interest in the iMac. The new Macbook Pro's display & trackpad are improvements but again soldered memory & a hard drive that can't be upgraded are deal breakers, along with a measly 1yr warranty. (BTW- I've owned two Macbook Pros.) The loss of the Mac Mini & its server version, is bigger than it appears. How is someone going to be interested in migrating from Windows if a real option hasn't been made available? Sent from the iMore App
  • "along with a measly 1yr warranty. (BTW- I've owned two Macbook Pros.)" ...since you've owned two MBP, you DO know that they offer AppleCare, which increases the warranty to three full years... right?
  • We all know this. The point is that for devices that are already at the top of the price range, it isn't asking too much for a two year warrantee for the price, without asking another $100 for two years. Another $50 for a third year would be better, and align with other companies products, particularly since in some countries, such as the EU, a two year warrantee is required.
  • While it may make good business sense (?) to leave smaller profit products behind for focus issues, I agree with Rene, once you are forced to leave the comfort zone of the Apple ecosystem by the lack of products to work with your newer Apple products you start to realize that other companies also make fine laptops, phones, and services (music, cloud). Since you are already shopping the other side maybe you try other products and find yourself cutting the Apple ties altogether. Apples integration was what kept you there because it was so easy, everything worked. No you are set free to explore options, who knows what's conclusions you'll come to.
  • This, exactly this. I slated Windows for years once I left XP even though while still badmouthing the OS I’d never actually used 7, 8, or 10.
    When I had to use one for work I realised they not only weren’t bad. They were actually pretty good and in some respects excellent.
    As for the routers, I never did love them as they lacked too many features and never ever had a built in modem. At that time, I wanted Apple products and only Apple products. I bought a netgear and it was really good.
    I’m after a new display, my 2004 30”er is really showing its age now and with no alternative. I’m looking at other OEMs. The halo effect is real, (at least is WAS for me - I was happy to spend £1350 in 2004 for that one ACD as it was Apple yet I have trouble spending £700 in 2016 on an LG).
  • I do hope that some of you guys understand that the price of the new LG models is pretty low, if they meet professional graphics monitor standards, which I expect they do. NEC, and others, make graphics monitors. Their lower resolution models, which is all they have so far, cost a fair amount more than these do. While I've already commented, in the earlier article, announcing these decisions by Apple, unhappily, it bears paying attention to the fact that there are monitors that re just as good as Apple's.
  • I do hope that some of you guys understand that the price of the new LG models is pretty low, if they meet professional graphics monitor standards, which I expect they do. NEC, and others, make graphics monitors. Their lower resolution models, which is all they have so far, cost a fair amount more than these do. While I've already commented, in the earlier article, announcing these decisions by Apple, unhappily, it bears paying attention to the fact that there are monitors that re just as good as Apple's.
  • I suspect that a big chunk of users who use external monitors are pros in the photo/print design/video space. Those users require one common thing from their displays: color accuracy. Apple's displays, while nicely matched to their other products, were terrible in those scenarios. The horrifically glossy glass made accurate calibration difficult and judging colors difficult in normally lit work environments. Out of the box, the displays are tuned to have a nice pop and pleasing color rendition, but that is not the same as accuracy. So, I think many of the potential customers for a pro display were already buying ugly but high performing gear from other companies. I know I was. As far as Wi-Fi, I trepedatiously switched from an Airport to a Netgear router this year. The difference in performance and reliability was shocking. I was constantly restarting my Airport when the signal would get weak or die - this thing (again, though ugly) has been running like a champ for months. I think if Apple isn't willing to create best-in-class components beyond the external industrial design, it's best that they stop production altogether. When I buy something with their logo, I expect it to be above and beyond and many of their peripherals and add-ones were not.
  • Very well said. Apple no longer cares to solve problems others haven't in fancy packaging. Or making a product that's better than the status quo, yet cheaper and more layman-friendly than previous high end products. They only care about selling f'n stickers and other useless digital crap you don't need. (Black Mirror, s1e2)
    We need another company to come in and fill this role. There are many out there making neat little trinkets, bobbles & tchotchkes, but not many actually solving problems.
    I suppose most of my tech problems have been created by the neat little services and conveniences I've come to rely on, but now reliability of core functionality is being lost to development of a new way for you to spend one more "merit".
    I'll spare you my laundry list, but if I could make money from complaints & grievances, I could afford to start that company that solves all the problems. Sent from the iMore App
  • I will say one thing about glossy displays and proper color correction. It seems that too many people these days have no idea how to do proper color correction. Those are the people whining about glossy displays. The truth is, if anyone these days is willing to spend the slightest bit of thought on it, is that matte displays are terrible for any graphics work. Yes, you're shocking g at that, but it's true. The problem is that it's NOT true that matte displays eliminate more reflection based problems. In reality, they increase them. In my own commercial film lb, we used displays properly. That is, in a room with little lighting, and no lighting in front of the display. The problem with all displays, but particularly matte ones, is that the reflections are also spread inside the display, in addition to the light reflected out to you. While glossy displays have a sharper reflection that matte displays, that's because almost all the light is focused on that reflection out. Tate displays spread that reflection over a much greater percentage of the display,at, and fool you into thinking that there is less reflection. In reality, matte displays have a lot of internal flare, just like a lens. The entire display is reflecting, instead of just that sharp reflection of the glossy model. Because of this, matte displays have poorer blacks, with smeared detail, and are undersaturated. These are inherent problems that can't be fixed with monitor adjustments. The best way to do color and b/w work is with a glossy display in a dark room, wearing dark clothes. Yeah, yeah, the current generation of people working this field don't understand this. A reason is that most of them aren't doing critical color work. I actually have read someone say that they use iMacs in a bright room, with windows behind them, because, you know, that's how people read the magazines they're correcting for! God, sheer ignorance.
  • I sincerely hope the router rumor is NOT true. I would completely be SICK about it. I have a three-level home in which I have the 3TB Time Capsule, along with several airport expresses. I use the Airport Expresses to not only extend my wireless network, but also stream music simultaneously to the speaker systems on each level of my home. It is FANTASTIC for parties, as the music is heard throughout my home. There is possibly another way to do the same thing, but I made the investment within the last year to set things up this way. I'm really nervous about Apple's "perceived" direction. For the first time in 20 years, I bought a Windows laptop last week (Lenova Yoga 910) and I'm kinda liking Windows 10. Not being able to have the full Apple experience I'm so accustomed to will definitely help pique my interest in the "other" platform.
  • Just because they are getting out of the router business doesn't mean your setup just stops working. Jesus, the hysteria is amazing.
  • Although eventually he won't be able to buy anymore without getting them second-hand, I think that's more his issue. His existing setup won't work forever
  • Nothing last forever in tech, best learn it now.
  • Given Apple's gigantic pile of cash it is very perplexing to me why they don't invest more in creating more devices. Google is developing phones, tablets, laptops (if you can call a Chromebook a laptop), a connected speaker, mesh routers, devices for TV, and probably more that I can't think of. Amazon is a leader in the connected speaker space and IoT. Even Microsoft is starting to beat Apple at their own game. The Surface Studio is awesome for designers. The Surface Book is the 2 in 1 Apple should build. Heck even Window's is starting to look more enticing than macOS. Lots of tech companies not named Apple are coming out with some cool stuff. Meanwhile Apple is cutting the number of product lines they have. It is getting harder and harder for me to stay committed to the Apple ecosystem. First I dipped my toe in the water with an Echo. Then when I didn't want to fork over another $140+ for a 3rd gen 4 Apple TV I went with a Fire Stick (I need to be able to run Plex - can't do it on a gen 3 Apple TV w/o jail breaking). If you asked me 6 months ago if I would be getting the iPhone 7 and a new MBP the answer would have been heII yes. Today, meh. Don't get me wrong, I like both devices, but I feel less sure of Apple's entire ecosystem and whether I should invest thousands of more $$ in it. Apple continues to send mixed messages. Including a touch screen on a laptop is a poor use of the technology. But buy the iPad Pro which is, according to Apple, the future of computing. Last I checked the iPad doesn't have a trackpad so if you need to navigate you are left with taping the screen or using the keyboard (terrible if you have a ways to scroll). The spent $3B on Beats but seem to be AWOL on one of the top speaker technologies out right now (connected speakers). They were a pioneer in the area of AI with Siri, but now Siri is arguably the 4th best digital assistant. Alexa is a lot better, Cortana is not far behind, and Google's AI sounds like it is going to be a lot more capable (albeit at the expense of selling yourself and your info to Google). Google offers tv programming through Google Fiber and Apple gives us the TV app? Seriously? And lastly, automation is finally starting to get really cool and available to main stream users and Apple seems to be closing up shop. If they put their heart (and their piles of cash) into any of these technologies they could dominate like only Apple is capable of doing. It just seems like their heart isn't in it anymore. Sent from the iMore App
  • This is the basic argument I make. Instead of Apple throwing tens of billion away on stock buybacks, which do nothing to raise the price of the stock, despite popular opinion in the financial community that it does, Apple should be investing that money in new technologies, or even buying some companies that build high quality products that would benefit Apple overall, and spend more money on marketing themselves. How often does anyone see an Apple Ad on Tv these days, other that ones for iPhones, and rarer ones for iPads? Why stop advertising the Mac, or other products?
  • "Hey! 'Member the clear plastic monitor Apple made to match the clear plastic PowerMac?"
    "Yeah, I 'member!" Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple's game is to make it simple.. Simple to use, simple to buy, and when get it, u don't need to go though a host of options just to disable allot of stuff compared to tot her third party routers. but I guess they see there is other routers out there, and for one reason or another they'd just rather go in a different direction.. They may make displays again as well, and they may not. I think the biggest mistake, in all this is "Apple devices just work well together" If they suddenly get out of selling their wirless products,,, users would be foced to find other third party manufactures to fill in the gap... More problems will come as a result, because if u used Back to my mack with a third party router like i have, u'll know if murder to get it working always :P For one u cannot wake a mac because of the poor implantation of Bonjour in third party routers. Apple ones just "work" because its their products u'r using. You could also say Tim is loosing it...... Apple is going in all sorts of directions.... I would say the way more like a centipede, the legs just spouted out in the years following,
  • By forcing their customers to search for a 3rd party just works solution, they are condemning the majority of them to not finding a good solution which will lower the overall experience with the Apple products. They also give up a segment where customers will gladly pay a premium for just works to avoid having to find that in a 3rd party product.
  • It might be a good idea to remember market leader Nokia. (who? you ask) Its such a shame. Apple was a great company with great products. But when Apple:
    - discontinue pro apps and provide dumbed down basic apps in their place
    - discontinue servers, displays, airport routers / access points and time capsules (**** funny for a company that says wireless is the future), head phone jacks (but still no wifi "AirPod" replacement),
    - deliver the (to say the least) disappointing MacBook Pro (no MagSafe, no SD card slot, no Ethernet, limited RAM, needs a bag of dongles, etc etc) I guess the writing is on the wall. I converted my company from MS devices to Apple in 2006 in order to improve reliability and performance. But Apple might want to consider that Microsoft is not the company that was producing such gems as Vista any more either... in 2017 they are more of a competitor than they were in Steve Jobs era. Take a look at the W10 and Microsoft Surface Studio by example. But I don't think Apple selling smart phones, tablets and watches will be enough. Ah well, everything ends I guess. PS: I am sick of pundits saying "its just a small team" when defending Apple. They employ 115,000 permanent full-time employees as of July 2015.
  • agree i bought an iphone than imac macbook airport extreme and a watch. but the last year it was a hard one. there are not really anything i need. i still got my iphone 7 plus but only because i needed for work. there is nothing i really need or spend on so what is that mean maybe apple does not the special product for me? why would i upgrade from my imac or macbook? the new watch? NOOOO is not really an improvement and now apple does not make a display or a router. so next time i want to upgrade .... there is so much possibily with a router and thats what we want.
  • brilliant, sir!
  • Years ago I got rid of a perfectly adequate router and replaced it with an AirPort Extreme for one reason only: Apple Music. I set up one music node in the living room (Airport Express, amplifier and a pair of excellent large speaker enclosures). I enjoyed that so much, I set up a second node in the dining room. Then a third in the Master bedroom. Next a fourth on the deck. Then a fifth node in the east-side garden. And my always-on IMac with music collection aboard also had an excellent set of speakers in the den. I could play all my music through any single node, or all six at once, and each with individual remote volume controls. Apple's Remote app allows me to control music to all these sites on my iPads, iPod touch or phone, anywhere in wifi range. And now, will I have to lay in a stock of Extremes and Expresses to ensure against inevitable decline and failure of devices Apple chooses to no longer make? This is not a question of hardware at risk, but of a function that I and I am sure many others find precious. And no, I don't want to do it all over again in Sonos or some other system. I want to keep the functionality I have, which is part of the ecosystem that weds to me Apple. Remove enough bits from an ecosystem, and it collapses. And those who relied on the ecosystem move on.
  • Despite my having fewer nodes, my concurrence with your situation and thoughts is similar. However I will not stock airport hardware for swap out. If the device fails, I will look for another solution outside Apple.
  • I found the same experience. When my preowned Lexus didn't come equipped with Bluetooth audio, I set up an Airport Express to feed its aux port.
  • test. somehow my comment is getting blocked. posting this to see if it goes through.
  • whatever. something i typed hit security something or other. well no comments today i guess. oh well.
  • "I'm sure Apple put enormous effort into working with LG on them, but the industrial design was decidedly not-Apple, and the branding was pure LG." It is so ugly and cheap looking.
  • Long time Windows user who moved to the Mac about 10 years ago. Part of the allure was Apple offering a rather complete ecosystem that all worked together very well (Constant incompatibility issue with Windows was more than annoying). Assuming Apple continues to discontinue various peripherals, the allure of them being a complete ecosystem is greatly impaired. The halo affect is real. Measuring the need to offer monitors and routers in terms of revenue only is short sided. Now, I'm off to research Netgears new mesh router - the Apple store has nothing comparable.
  • I don't know if you've made your router decision yet, but AC just posted a pretty interesting review of the Google mesh router the other day. Check it out if you're still shopping around.
  • I have converted from Windows to Apple in 2007 - out of frustration of trying to get three cheap WIFI routers with poor instruction manuals to talk to each other - got three Airports and was deligthed with simplicity of set up, they were miles ahead. Macs, Macbooks, iPhones and iPads followed - but the Airport was what converted me to Apple. I would buy an Apple Display for work just for the pleasure of having Apple display there to make the place less corporate and boxy Windowsy. Wonder if the bean counters at Apple HQ figuring the "business cases" for routers and displays would have considered this - and I am saying this as an accountant myself!;-)
  • IMO, Apple is moving in the right direction. There are many great companies out there who make displays and working with them to create amazing displays is a much better way to go forward. Thunderbolt displays were launched when scenario wasn't as vibrant and competitive as maybe right now.
    As far as shutting down the router division is concerned, I am quite surprised personally but i have a strong hunch that APPLE has not exited this business completely. I believe they are working on a new product. It has already been rumored that they are testing devices to compete with ECHO and Google HOME. I think they might incorporate the wireless router tech into these devices as well as the Apple TV. That would allow them to create a home assistant environment as well as wireless mesh networking, all via a single device. Considering Apple has been making custom chips for many things now, they might create custom silicon for this as well which might give uninterrupted and excellent performance.
    I really hope my thoughts become true as there seems to be no point in exiting wireless market when things are going wireless and Apple is promoting itself as a proponent of it.
  • Jobs was famous for pushing Apple to focus on making the best! Modern Apple seems to be splitting its focus between that ideal and chasing profit. The result is blurry vision.
  • The important piece I'm missing from a lot of the punditry is what the product lineup *story* is. When Jobs came back to Apple, he threw away all the accessories and tertiary computers and left them with the famous 2x2 product grid: Consumer laptop and desktop/Pro laptop and desktop. That made sense for then. A lot of what we've seen since is iteration on that matrix, new products added and iterated on, but no cohesive story about what product is for who anymore. I'm not so sure that the consumer/pro delineation still makes sense as even Apple's weakest machines are fulfilling the needs of more and more "professionals". That word used to mean you worked on your Mac, but nowadays machines are so powerful that only video editors and 3D modellers need the highest end. This story about who needs what needs refinement. The world has changed too much for us to keep on with the iterations on existing product lines. I've been thinking that Apple can afford to make more products, but perhaps the user stories are students, entry, luxury, and enterprise (but maybe there's something better). This is a far more interesting conversation and far more in keeping to what the MacBook Pro has become. It's not necessarily a "pro" machine, since it can fulfill almost everyone's needs, but it is a luxury Mac. Do iMacs still make sense? What about this:
    Apple's inroads into the enterprise with iOS act as a beachhead for a headless Mac solution. Like the Mac Mini, but more expandable, less expensive and, software and services-wise, they have a more Microsofty offering. Exchange, cloud services, deployment in partnership with IBM and Deloitte. A Mac at every office desk. They'd make less money off each, but potentially the only place they'd see significant growth, because that's not going to happen from the consumer market. Make it up on volume. Offer a cheaper version of the iPad that's ruggedized and can still accept pencil input and offer complete suite of software/service tools for schools. Make it turnkey for school boards to deploy and feel comfortable that they don't have to piecemeal their own app solutions. Pages, Numbers, iMovie, and Keynote are a good start. So are iBooks, but what about attendance, field trips, newsletters, permission forms, fundraising. I'm sure teachers could come up with a dozen more use cases that need solving. AR is still something that needs solving and Apple is well positioned to come in again and win here. Reducing the bulk of headsets, coming up with a dedicated OS for it, having retail locations to try it out, media partnerships and a vibrant app community for content, making it beautiful.... Apple's expertise couldn't be better suited to fill in all the holes. That my ideas for execution are good or bad aren't the point. It's that Apple needs to get clear about what the story is for each product again. Then people will know what to buy and you've removed decision-making friction.
  • The only little one i'll be sorry to go which would really be useful out of the house would be the Airport express.