What to expect from Apple in 2023

The year ahead will be about resilience, recovery, security, and setting the table for the next big things.

Apple, iPhone, iOS, Mac, mobile
Yeshi Kangrang (CC0)

Sifting through the usual end-of-the-year speculation, I have some thoughts on what Apple’s enterprise users can anticipate in 2023, a year in which Apple will focus on reconfiguring operations and manufacturing for greater resilience.

Building a functional supply chain

Every consumer electronics company has been hit by COVID-related supply chain challenges. The world’s great factory, China, has suffered, while unravelling political consensus, the war in Ukraine and tension in Taiwan all pose existential threats to those firms with deep supply chain connections in the nation.

Apple is one of these, but seems hell bent on reconfiguring its supply chain to become more resilient, sourcing metaphorical supply chain eggs from across multiple baskets. This work is costly, deeply complex, and demands Apple’s teams work closely with suppliers to put new production lines in place.

India has emerged, along with Vietnam, Thailand, and other nations as locations likely to be seeing additional Apple action. There will be unexpected challenges, but the company knows it must get this right to protect its precious hardware sales. This will  continue to be its greatest priority in 2023 – and is likely to be important to every business.

New Macs, the M2 and a first sighting of the M3

Apple chip manufacturer TSMC is expected to begin manufacturing Apple Silicon chips at its factory in Arizona by 2024. There's been speculation these processors may not be the 3nm chips by then, but I’ve a hunch that won’t be the case. Ultimately, TSMC and Apple want to ensure the heart of Apple’s computers can be made in at least two locations to keep the supply chain more resilient. That’s just one component in a literal forest of parts Apple needs to secure, but it’s an important jigsaw piece.

Meanwhile, it seems reasonable to assume a slight delay to some of the company’s original plans, as Apple and its supplier put in place the kind of infrastructure they need for life after China; in Mac terms, that may translate into more limited hardware releases over the next few months. One slice of evidence to support this might be the claim Apple has suspended plans for an M2 Extreme-equipped Mac Pro, ostensibly on cost grounds.

What if simple production challenges are to blame?

That doesn’t mean no new Macs, of course: Expect 14- and 16-in. MacBook Pro models with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips early in 2023, followed by an M2-powered iMac and potentially a slightly less -owerful Pro. NB: Mark Gurman has speculated the iMac could appear with an M3 chip by the end of next year. He also expects Apple to introduce new monitors, including an updated Pro Display XDR.

Given Macs already deliver most of what enterprise professionals need and these processors compete in their class far better than Apple processors have before, the company has time to get its next chips right. With this in mind, you can expect business users will continue to purchase these machines. That’s going to make for an even more buoyant market for service providers supporting enterprises with Apple, and we’re going to see a lot of innovation come from those partners in 2023 — particularly as Apple extends the APIs it offers them to work with.

A good old get-together

Sticking my neck out here, I think Apple will adopt a hybrid approach to next summer's WWDC and most of its big public events moving forward. In part, this is because the format has worked well since COVID-19 struck, but it’s also a lot cheaper and – when it comes to developers, at least, it means the company reaches more people. Expect  the number of people attending these events in person to increase.

When it comes to a return to the office, I expect Apple will continue to face resistance from employees who want and, in some cases, need more flexibility than its current scheme provides. It also seems a unwise to declare the pandemic over — one thing we should have learned about this disease is that it will not disappear without leaving a sting or two from its tail. (Perhaps Freeform can take up some of the slack.)

Security, security, security

Do things seem normal to you? They don’t to me.

We live at a time of unprecedented turmoil and growing tension. That tension translates into various forms of insecurity, including (in the tech world) rapid increases in high-level cyberattacks. Apple seems to be doing all it can to enhance platform protection against exploits, and you can expect this to remain critical to its work in the coming 12 months.

One big conversation likely to crop up will relate to encryption. Apple’s recent decision to protect iCloud users by letting them encrypt more of the information they have stashed in its cloud is really welcome, except among those with an authoritarian outlook. I see the larger discussion about the right to privacy and encryption coming to a head in 2023.

The future comes fast

Apple remains big on augmented reality (AR), and we all expect it to introduce its first mixed-reality glasses in 2023. While this almost feels like a certainty, a lot will depend on component access and supply chain resilience. That means the first-generation products will be expensive, hard to get, and aimed primarily at developers, gamers, first adopters and edge-use cases. The product Apple is most focused on will likely be a mixed reality device you can wear anywhere, rather than the goggles-like hardware it must introduce first.

Powerful as that is (a Mac in your goggles), Apple wants to give you a Mac in your sunglasses, and that tech won’t be ready for a while yet.

Look to the skies…

One more thing will be an extension to the iPhone satellite service Apple now offers with GlobalStar. Introduced with the iPhone 14, this service lets you contact emergency services when you’re otherwise offline.

Apple has spent hundreds of millions of dollars getting this service together, including a whole squadron of satellites I believe haven’t even yet been launched. It makes sense for it to expand with additional services as it works towards making satellite connectivity a profitable option within the next two years. (Apple has said the Emergency SOS service will be free for two years.)

How might the company make iPhone satellite sexy? In part, this will likely focus around FindMy and around access to its media services from anywhere. Perhaps Apple TV will eventually be a satellite-equipped set top box, offering global access to Apple One content to absolutely anyone for a monthly fee.

Services, services, services

The need to build bastions across the supply chain means Apple may slightly slow new hardware launches in 2023. No matter, it will attempt to make up for any softness in hardware sales by beefing up and putting focus into services. Perhaps therefore Apple Music Classical hasn’t appeared yet because Apple wants to introduce it with some crescendo — and a new Home Pod to add a little spice.

Of course, there will be a new iPhone

The iPhone 15 is inevitable, possibly including a new and more costly titanium model, the iPhone 15 Ultra. The entire range should boast Dynamic Island and a 48MP camera, but the Pro version may have a sophisticated periscope lens for brilliant long-range photography. You can also anticipate USB-C to bring these phones in line with EU mandates. And don’t be terribly surprised if highly significant changes in how the App Store operates begin to appear toward the end of the year.

iPads may gain bigger screens, including a 16- and 14-inch models with MiniLEDs and Pro Motion.

Looking back at my expectations for 2022

So, how did the predictions I prepared this time last year shape up?

To me, I think that the invasion of Ukraine and continued challenges of COVID-19 became big problems to Apple’s supply and manufacturing lines, which is why some hardware shipped late and other items didn’t appear at all.

What did happen?

  • Apple introduced an iPhone SE with 5G.
  • Apple introduced the M2 chips and redesigned MacBook Air.
  • Car crash detection was introduced.
  • The iPhone 14 kept a notch, but now it makes more sense.
  • We’ve seen satellite connectivity in an iPhone.
  • WWDC was hybrid, rather than totally virtual.
  • Apple has continued to be hit by various regulatory investigations to the extent the company is now expected to bend with the wind a little.
  • We also saw product availability hit by supply chain problems and we are now seeing big steps toward building chips in the US.

What didn’t happen?

  • The Mac Pro, Mac mini Pro, and 30-in. iMac didn’t appear. 
  • AR glasses didn’t show up. 

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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