Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) product pipeline is loaded -- maybe even more so than ever before. Not only has the company expressed great confidence in the products it has in its pipeline, but the rumor mill seems to think that Apple could be developing hardware -- in not just one, but several new categories, including phablets, wearables, and the "Internet of things."
All of these products have the potential to be completely revolutionary -- even the iPhone 6.
The iPhone 6 is rumored to be launched as a bifurcated lineup, with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch versions of the device -- both larger than the 4-inch iPhone 5s and 5c. While Apple may be late to the large-screen smartphone party, its dominating entry could have lasting effects on the tablet market as a whole.
Apple's alleged phablet-like 5.5-inch iPhone 6, for instance, could be the beginning of the end for smaller tablets. We're already seeing the effects of the phablet on mini tablets at Samsung. A recent press release from the Korean-based company said that "demand for 5-to-6 inch smartphones also cannibalized the demand for 7-to-8 inch tablets."
Analysts are pretty much already in consensus that the iPhone 6 will set record iPhone sales.
Then there's Apple's rumored iWatch, an Internet-connected device to be worn on the wrist. It reportedly will have a 2.5-inch touch display and run a version of iOS.
If Apple brings its massive resources to the wearable game with an iWatch, the already fast-growing category may get a rocket-like boost. Smartwatch shipments will exceed 8 million units sold this year, Canalys predicts. But in 2015, thanks to Apple, Canalys predicts shipments to hit 23 million. A number of research companies and analysts have even bigger expectations for the impact Apple's smartwatch device will have on the broader smartwatch category: One analyst thinks Apple could ship as many as 58.5 million iWatch devices in its first year of availability.
While the iPhone 6 and the iWatch have received a good amount of attention in the media, one possible upcoming product from Apple has mostly gone under the radar. We'll call it iHome.
Apple sees "mainstream" opportunity for hardware it's working on targeting the Internet of things category, according to a recent report from 9to5Mac. What could the product be? 9to5Mac's sources assert it could be something like an advanced speaker system or a control panel for the smart devices in your home.
While the smart control panel seems more likely, Apple's recent acquisition of Beats Electronics would fit the bill for an advanced smart speaker system. Whatever the hardware is, 9to5Mac says Apple is "beyond the exploratory phase of development."
The new hardware would likely tap into Apple's HomeKit, or a hub on iOS for smart home devices.
While it's downright impossible to pinpoint the potential sales of Apple's upcoming products, especially the iWatch and a possible "iHome" device, the sheer volume of possible new hardware in Apple's pipeline, combined with Apple's history of successfully entering new categories, make it a great time to be an Apple shareholder.
Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.