Predicting the future when it comes to Apple (AAPL) has been fairly easy lately thanks to the company’s component suppliers in the Far East, which have been leaking like sieves for years. Even still, analysts love playing the guessing game when it comes to Apple’s product roadmap. Berenberg Capital Markets analyst Adnaan Ahmad recently offered his predictions for Apple’s coming year, and there are definitely a few reaches to say the least.
First up, Ahmad thinks Apple will launch an entry-level iPhone in 2013. This is a perennial guess that is made each year by various analysts who think Apple needs to participate in the perpetual low-end land grab in order to grow, but it hasn’t happened yet.
“We think that it is inevitable that Apple launches a tailored, low-cost iPhone in 2013 to address the burgeoning mass market opportunity. We note that there are over 150 million subscribers in Europe on pre-paid contracts whom Apple is not really addressing today,” the analyst wrote in a research note. “The issue that Apple faces is one of growth. Given that the high-end is a maximum 20-25% of the market and that Apple’s global smartphone share is in the 15-20% range, it can only grow by another 5% in this market category unless it prices its existing product cheaper (read lower margins) or develops a completely new tailored solution.”
Next, Ahmad sees Apple launching an own-brand HDTV in the second half of the year. Again, this is in line with dozens of earlier predictions made over the past few months.
“[Apple] can obviously implement some of its differentiated design characteristics to the TV, but the latest Samsung (005930), LG (066570) and even Sony (SNY) TVs are very appealing,” he wrote. “So differentiation could come through a combination of hardware, software and services – i.e. the existing iOS subscriber base is obviously the targeted initial market for such a product, but to gain lots of traction, a subscription-based services model with differentiated or unique to user/adjusted to user/à la carte content is the way to go.”
“Given that 85-90% of Apple’s revenues are based on the iOS operating system (iPhone, iPad and iPod), it has to make business sense for the company at some point to shift its iOS to its MacBook range,” Ahmad opined. “We think it is highly likely that Apple will start this shift in 2013 with an iOS version of the MacBook Air. That is not to say that it will not continue to support an OSX version, but we feel that Apple – a company that prides itself on simplicity – will in the mid-term want to consolidate onto a single platform: i.e. Apple will aim to merge both operating system environments over time. Recent management changes at Apple – i.e. iOS and OSX are now under one executive and there is now a team focused on semiconductors – point to this potential.”