See you later, 2023–don’t let the door hit you on the way out. While the year might have ended with a bit of a question mark (who had Apple Watch patent fight on their bingo card?), 2024 is poised to be a big year for the company from Cupertino: new products, major updates, and perhaps even a surprise or two along the way.
So, to whet your anticipation for the 12 months to come, I’m running down what I think will be the most significant Apple-related stories of the upcoming year–the ones that we’ll be looking back on next December as the big moves of 2024.
I think, therefore iPad
One thing that was missing from Apple’s lineup in 2023? The iPad. The tablet has had a surprisingly rocky time over its decade-plus existence: its sales have been up and down more than maybe any other Apple product. Lately, it’s been plagued by challenges of hardware that vastly outpaces its software, a confusing product line-up, and inconsistent feature rollouts (landscape camera orientation on the tenth-generation iPad, for example).
With an iPad-less year behind it, Apple is poised to make some updates to the tablet in 2024. But the big question is whether those will be minor tweaks, slowly pushing the models to the next generation or a more significant rethinking of where the iPad fits into the company’s mix.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Either way, every model—from the 10th-generation iPad and iPad mini to the iPad Air and iPad Pro—is due for an update in 2024, and it will be fascinating to see if Apple can–or even intends–to get its ducks in a row. Rumors suggest a larger iPad Air may join the mix, while the iPad Pros get OLED screens to set them apart, but for Apple, the key is always in the story it wants to tell.
At your Services
In a year where most of Apple’s business segments did fine (if you can call raking in billions of dollars “fine”), the company’s Services division continued its steady upward trajectory. But that doesn’t mean Apple can simply afford to kick back and relax.
What’s interesting about the Services business is that its continued growth is predicated on a couple of factors. First, and perhaps most importantly, increased volume: the more customers there are of the App Store, iCloud, Apple Music, and so on, the more revenue Apple brings in. Some of what drives that is not directly under Apple’s control, such as what content is available on the App Store or Apple Music, while other parts of it—Apple TV+ and Apple Fitness, just to name a couple—are more directly tied to the company’s investments.
And of course, there’s a third element too: what the company charges. Apple raised the prices of several of its services in late 2023, which will no doubt help improve the bottom line but also might increasingly find customers wondering if they’re getting their money’s worth. As subscription fatigue for digital services starts to set in, it’s up to Apple to make its products both valuable and competitive. That may prod the company to add more partnerships, such as its recently announced deal with The Athletic and The Wirecutter, or introduce additional services to its Apple One bundle in an attempt to retain existing customers and entice new ones.
Vision Pro of the future
Okay, okay: I know I mentioned it in the list of biggest stories of 2023, and I’m loath to double dip here, but there’s no question in my mind that the Vision Pro is going to be the biggest Apple story of 2024, no matter how it plays out.
Poorly received, it could solidify the criticism–always waiting in the wings–that Apple has lost its way, forgotten its roots, etc. There are plenty of factors stacked against it: an expensive version 1.0 product due to ship in small quantities that looks a bit wacky and doesn’t have a clear use case–and did I mention it’s expensive?
Done right, though, it will be a brand new platform for Apple, with all the benefits that entails. Not only is that valuable in and of itself, but it could open the door for new services, or significant updates to existing services (3D content in Apple TV+, more interactive Apple Fitness workouts, Vision Pro-specific games). And as uphill a climb as that might be, no company is better positioned than Apple to pull a rabbit out of its virtual hat.
One way or another, we’re going to be talking about Vision Pro a lot in the next year.
Petter Ahrnstedt / Foundry
Those are, of course, just the headlines. I’m expecting plenty more in 2024: on the Mac side, that means more new computers powered by the M3 line, with perhaps even the addition of an M3 Ultra chip. (Though I don’t think the Mac’s 40th anniversary next month will get too much attention from Apple.)
Elsewhere the company still has to contend with changes to digital markets in Europe that could fundamentally alter how it does business, big platform updates that are rumored to at least partially focus on generative AI, and of course, there will always be a new iPhone until the end of time.
I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next year brings, and I hope you’re ready to sit back and enjoy the ride, whether in the real world or the virtual one.