The sky isn't falling at Apple, but the company's dreadful fiscal second-quarter earnings, which saw the first year-over-year drop ever in iPhone sales, certainly caused some shaking. The softening in iPhone sales is understandable, given the overall market saturation and the fact that the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus weren't as big of upgrades as the big-screen iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were when they came out.
But that doesn't mean the pressure isn't on Apple to create new hits, especially given that the iPhone accounts for about two-thirds of the company's revenue. There have been reports that Apple is working on everything from self-driving cars to virtual-reality headsets, but here are five products that Apple should make a reality as soon as possible.
A Gaming Mac
Acer has entered the fray with the Predator line, HP is reviving its gaming efforts with Omen and it seems like every PC maker is chasing gamers, because that's where the most excitement is (and where the highest margins are). Apple should do the same, but in its own way, by creating gaming-focused Macs. Apple doesn't have the best history with OS X-powered gaming — anyone remember the Pippin? — but the time is right to strike.
The Razer Blade proved that you can make a sleek and sexy laptop that's also quite powerful. And Steam will run on OS X for downloading the latest titles. So why not expand your market at a time that Macs saw a year-over-year decline of 12 percent? Perhaps Apple could revive the PowerBook moniker for its first bona fide gaming laptop.
Apple would also be able to cater to buyers of virtual-reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive if it made a gaming-focused Mac Pro desktop. The Rift's inventor "called Apple out for not having a "good PC" that could handle VR, but Apple could step up to the plate without much effort. And while I don't see Apple stuffing a desktop-class GPU inside a laptop to do VR, it could go the external-graphics-amp route, as Alienware has done for its laptops, or wait until mobile graphics cards are powerful enough.
MORE: Best Gaming Laptops
An Echo Killer
It has to burn Tim Cook that the Amazon Echo speaker is getting so much positive buzz while Siri remains stuck inside the iPhone. Given that Beats Audio is now under the Apple umbrella, the company should make a smart speaker of its own that will respond to your voice to answer questions, play music and even control smart home gadgets through Apple's HomeKit protocol.
Apple could also deliver an audio feed of its top news headlines through such devices, as well as turn the Apple TV into a smarter personal assistant through an upgrade. (It offers some voice controls already.) With Amazon fleshing out its Alexa product line with the Tap and Dot, Apple should make a move of its own soon.
Apple Antivirus: OS X Protect
Don't laugh. OS X has faced increasing threats from malware and ransomware in recent years as Apple has stolen away more market share from Windows. The bad guys are noticing. There are a handful of good Mac Antivirus tools available today — and, in fact, our top pick, Avira, is free. But Apple could corner the market on protecting its users from new threats while adding to the company's all-important recurring-services revenue.
Apple wouldn't call the product antivirus software, of course. It would have to offer more comprehensive protection and other benefits, such as robust OS X parental controls (which aren't great right now) and maybe a hardened browser for safer online shopping. OS X Protect has a nice ring to it.
A Real Apple TV
LG has the best picture quality around with its OLED TVs, but Apple could make the smartest TV out there if it could find a way to do it at a premium (but not too premium) price. Imagine being able to use Siri to find what to watch, both on live TV and through apps, as well as sitting back and beaming photos and videos to your set from your iPhone without needing a separate Apple TV box.
With the industry starting to rally around HDR 4K sets and as Apple starts to potentially invest in its own content production (a la Netflix and Amazon), it would behoove Tim Cook & Company to have a set that bakes in all of its best technologies for the ultimate binge-watching sessions. I'd also love not having to switch HDMI inputs anymore.
Confession: I use my Apple Watch for running and not much else. The Apple Watch has a pretty good fitness tracker built with an accurate heart-rate monitor but no GPS. That's why I often switch between my Nike+ watch and the Apple Watch. The recent Fitbit Blaze color watch was underwhelming, and the rash of acquisitions in the fitness wearable space has actually strangled innovation.
It's time for Apple to come in and make a more focused fitness tracker that gives you a more complete picture of your health, along with an optional subscription-based workout and diet plan to help people live longer. The Apple Fit [LD1] (my name for it) could also give our physicians a clear view of our condition at any time — with the wearer's permission — and maybe even help us save on health insurance by reaching certain goals.
What Do You Think?
Would you buy any of these Apple products? Tell us what you'd like to see.