Innovative and disruptive products have defined Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) since the stock began its magical run in the early 2000s. Today, Steve Jobs is gone, but the core of the team that developed these products is still there, and it's about time the company began disrupting markets again. Here are three things the company can -- and should -- be working on.
Killing cable TV
The cable industry has created a distribution network that allows little choice for consumers and high prices to boot. Channels are bundled in packages that include dozens of channels we're not interested in watching, and there's often only one company offering service.
The Internet could change all of that if a company could create the leverage to break the hold cable has over us. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Hulu have tried to do this through their streaming services, but they don't have business models that scale well for content owners, and they still haven't proved to be profitable enough to take on cable.
Apple has the scale and has already proved it can disrupt media after conquering the music industry. It could offer a la carte or subscription services tailored to consumers' needs so we get only what we want. Rumors have swirled for years that Apple is going to introduce streaming content deals, but so far it hasn't happened.
It's actually Disney (NYSE:DIS) that holds the key to breaking cable through its 80% ownership stake in ESPN. Steve Jobs helped build a strong relationship with Disney and was Disney's largest shareholder and a board member before he died. The Steve Jobs tie is gone, but Disney is still close to Apple, and if the two can collaborate, millions of people may take cord-cutting seriously.
If Apple is working on an "iTV," it can't just be any old TV. It has to be super-thin and incredibly high-quality, and it has to offer a "wow" factor that no one else can. If Apple is taking a totally new look at TV, there's really no reason the television as we know it has to remain the same. Why mount a TV on the wall when placing it on the table or bringing it outside might be more convenient? Why have two TVs if you could just move your TV wherever it's convenient to use? For years we've been hindered by cords and the inconvenient form factor of TVs, but Apple could change that.
If Apple uses OLED technology to create a very thin, light TV, it could change the way we look at TVs, much as Apple changed the way we look at computers after it introduced the iPad. The computer is no longer a stationary device, but rather one that's free to move about the house.
An iTV that allows app development and AirPlay would be an entirely new world for developers to design in, creating an even stronger ecosystem for Apple. An OLED may even bring about the possibility of a flexible screen to go along with lightweight and portability. OLED has been the future of TV for more than a decade, and Apple should be using this technology in an iTV.
3-D for everyone
Hollywood has used 3-D special effects for years, but it's time to bring 3-D to consumers in a serious way. We know the technology exists to create 3-D holographic images because Tupac did a concert last year -- 16 years after he died -- by using holographic technology. Apple should be working on mastering this technology for use on the iPad or iTV.
Imagine Apple Maps with real 3-D technology. Exploring cities on your iPad would be an immersive experience that might make people actually want to use it.
If we combine 3-D with and OLED iTV on a large screen, the possibilities are endless. App developers could enter a whole new world of possibilities by entering three dimensions, and Apple should lead the way. The technology is there; someone just has to perfect it.
Apple's next disruptive move
No one outside Apple's walls really knows what Apple has up its sleeve, but I think these three ideas are both feasible for Apple to make and attractive to consumers. Google and Samsung are breathing down Apple's neck in smartphones and tablets, so it's time to separate from the field with something new. Any of these products will do that.
Time will tell if Apple feels the same way.