Forecasting Macworld & CES

Posted by Ian Fogg

The usual predictions, rumours, hype, scaremongering are all in full force this week for the two early January shows. Pundits speculate on what will be announced ahead, and then attempt to retro-fit what products are launched into their world view. It's a dangerous game, and not only because so much of what is written is wrong, and worse, is proven wrong within hours of going online.

 
Much speculation before and during the event has been on the impact of the economy on new products to be announced. The reality is that the major product launches we are seeing now were on final approach when the economy hit the rocks last autumn. Product managers have had time to make small tweaks, or make brave last minute no-go decisions, but not to build from scratch for the 2009 world.
 
This deafening noise of speculation and numerous launches obscures the key strategies with which the most successful companies operate. Too much writing focuses on tactics, such as the specifics of individual new products. But very launches are really ground-breaking. This is why so much media attention focuses on Apple: It's their ability to do something radical and apparently revolutionary which delights headline writers.
 
We'll see later today what Apple launches.
 
Apple has repeatedly demonstrated that it is pursuing the long game. Each individual product meets a need and looks to be profitable but simultaneously ties into other parts of Apple's product range to together move the company forward. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. There are few companies for which that is true.
 
My forecast: Half of peoples' predictions for new Apple products will be completely wrong, a further third will happen but months or years later, and no more than one fifth of the product guesses will come true this week. The most innovative Apple products will come from the spoofers.