Originally Posted by Marvin
Tim Cook said he wasn't in it for the long haul and planned to be retired long after Steve was still at the company. That may change now but he could step down in 10 years and pass the company to Scott Forstall after some mentoring at which point he will be around the same age as Cook is now.
So many companies have been ruined by a transition to bad management that I think it is rational to worry about who is at the helm. Apple appears to be in good shape right now, but you never know how somebody with real talent for one position will perform in another.
In terms of products, there are some technology jumps we can expect based on what we've already seen. From 1990-2011, CPU power jumped up by a factor of about 32: 2^5 (doubles every 2 years) - this is borne out in benchmarks. GPU power in the same time jumped Geforce 2 MX (Doom 3 = 10FPS) -> Radeon 6750M (Doom 3 = 400FPS) around the same amount but it's more than that really as modern GPUs have fully programmable shaders.
Also one has to realize just how much cooler hardware runs today. That allows for a great deal of performance in a small package.
In terms of storage, we have gone from entry models at 64MB RAM and 40GB HDD to 4GB RAM and 500GB so almost 100x RAM and 10x storage.
Now, if we compare a desktop from 2001 to a 2011 iPhone, the iPhone 4S is faster, has the same storage but much faster and 10x the RAM. The GPU raw performance is on par with the GPUs in desktops 10 years ago but again does more advanced things.
It pleases me to no end to realize that my iPhone is more powerful than my first four or five computers put together. To realize that all that power ends up in ones pocket running on a little battery all day is sweet.
So, applying this to another 10 years, I expect that Apple will have a phone with a CPU and GPU on a single chip that runs as fast as the current 15" MBPs with the 6750M GPUs. They should have 256GB storage and 2-4GB RAM. This is all in a phone that is passively cooled. I actually expect them to cut back on performance so it lasts multiple days on battery.
At some point in the near future an iPhone or iPad will be all the computer most will need. It isn't there yet, though the iPad comes close for some. Once Apple is able to integrate a Thunderbolt port into "I" devices and drive large monitors from them, desktop hardware will become niche hardware.
I expect the Mac Pro to no longer exist. There will obviously always be a need for high performance computing but imagine a Mini that is 32x faster than what we have now and a giant box just isn't necessary, especially when they will have 100Gbps Thunderbolt connectors.
This one I don't buy! There will always be demand for high performance workstations and frankly they will sell into the same markets. The Pro might come in a radically different box but the products goal will be to offer up all the compute potential possible at a given point in time and at a given price point.
Imagine exporting a 1080p H.264 now and see that time drop from an hour to 2 minutes. They might move on to UltraHD or whatever but I think Apple will keep moving to smaller and thinner products and more wireless connections.
I agree with the move to thin but worry very much about the transition to wireless. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense.
The concern will be that everyone will be able to do this so Apple may find it hard to set itself apart. You can see this happening now with the tablets and UltraBook laptops.
But everybody hasn't been able to do this as can be seen with tablets and UltraBooks! Apple has a huge lead in tablets and can secure that lead for another couple of years just buy building an A6 chip with Thunderbolt built in. Further they can customize that chip with a rather large engineering team, this gives Apple a significant advantage in and of itself.
While iPad 3 might be a bit early I can see this product eventually becoming extremely powerful and even more difficult for others to match. When you are able to tailor the product to the application you put yourself ahead of the competition. Considering the volumes Apple is moving just with Tablets it is easy to justify fully custom chips on an economic basis. As long as they can spread those developments across the other I devices going with custom chips is a no brainier. I don't see this advantage going away anytime soon as the other suppliers of custome ARM chips take the kitchen sink approach to draw as many customers as possible.