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The consumer electronics company of the year 2005 is Apple -- hands-down. Leveraging the iPod's status as the hottest CE product for a generation, Apple rolled out a full menu of iPod devices (the Shuffle, Video and Nano were introduced), energized a music/video download center that's now the fastest growing retail website, built the finest desktop PC on the market, and saw its stock jump 120%. Indications are that Apple sold no less than 100,000 iPods a day in the holiday season.

So what can we expect from Apple in 2006? Predictions from Om Malik:

  1. Apple will finally take its [PC] market share to over 5%.
  2. iPhone, the real thing, comes to market sometime in the September 2006 time frame.
  3. Mac Mini finally becomes Apple’s CE platform for the living room.
  4. Apple releases iPod-inspired devices for the home.
  5. Apple will get closer to Cingular in terms of wireless music.

From Les Posen:

It’s for this reason ['net security] amongst others that 2006 will be the year of the Switcher for Apple and Microsoft. Apple’s previous Switcher campaign was clever and got lots of eyeballs, even to the point of being parodied, but I doubt it actually generated much switching.

From Michael Parekh:

Apple is poised to employ a variety of strategies this time around that could result in increased market share on consumer desktops and laptops against the Windows world, for the first time in years...

...most of the current media focus is on how a PC-based operating and applications platform may give way to a network based operating and applications environment across many types of fixed and mobile devices, via wired and wireless connections. That is true, and will take at least the next five years to come to fruition.

But these changes also present opportunities for a shift in the HARDWARE platforms consumers use as well... We've BARELY BEGUN to break away from the relatively rigid HARDWARE computing framework that's defined that interaction for the past thirty years. Next year offers an opportunity to more clearly see this shift, assuming Apple continues to try and do for general computing what it's done for music to date.

David Jackson finds room for improvement in Apple's I/O for VoIP:

Apple's failure to understand the growing importance of IP Telephony is odd given the company's focus on usability. Apple's PowerBook notebooks, for example, have an audio line-in port that only takes a powered audio source, and is thus unusable with almost every off-the-shelf $15 telephony headset. Moreover, the internal microphone on Apple's PowerBook notebooks is placed between the speakers, so if no headset is used at all the sound is destroyed by feedback. So while PC users have been able to use cheap headsets to get great sound quality while using Skype, AIM, Yahoo Messenger or other IP-telephony software clients, Apple users have been frustrated. Yet instant messenger-based IP telephony has been one of the fastest growing PC applications in the last year.

Source: Apple in 2006: iPhone? Massive Windows Switchover? Some Predictions (APPL, MSFT)