Steve Jobs famously was Apple. He ignored focus groups in favour of his own gut instinct and, as such, the latest rumour doing the rounds could well turn out to be completely true.
The Times newspaper in the UK has reported that before his death last week, Steve Jobs left a clear four year product roadmap for the company.
The newspaper claims that the next generation iPhone, due in late 2012 or 2013 will be a Jobs 'legacy device'. and that he had been working closely on Apple's next generation cloud services platform during his last few months with the company.
Of the products reportedly part of this four-year roadmap are a touch-screen television that would supersede the underwhelming Apple TV and a new iCloud to take on rivals Google and Microsoft.
To be honest all of this could just be idle speculation and guesswork, as it is relatively simple to determine what Apple's product roadmap will realistically be in the next few years. There will definitely be an iPhone 5 announcement sometime around Q4 2012 and Apple will inevitably announce a product to try and capture back some of the living room that Microsoft have so successfully made its mark in during recent years.
It could turn out to be the iCloud that becomes Jobs' legacy however. Currently the cloud is owned by Microsoft with it's SkyDrive, Office Live, Office 365, Hotmail and Xbox Live services being the only truly connected set of cloud services available. Not even Google, with all of its experience and might in cloud services, has been able to produce something that comes close to rivalling them.
The popularity of Apple's mobile platforms however could mean that a revamped iCloud of music, photo, backup, sharing and communication, could very well be the next big thing for the company. It pretty much rests on how interconnected such services would be, how deeply integrated they would be with both OS X and iOS and whether they would be free. Apple's previous attempt to charge for their cloud services haven't proved popular.
Any rumours and speculation that Apple may in the next 12 months release a product with a name or branding specifically aimed at being a tribute to Steve Jobs, such as perhaps a special edition iPhone 4SJ, are just that, pure speculation. Apple will need to prove that the company is much bigger than one man, something the markets will have little doubt of given the strengths of individuals in the top team that Jobs put together including Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive. Consumers however might find a Jobs tribute product rather more an admission of how much the company really needed him.
It will be interesting to see where Apple take their products, not in 2012 as these would be things in which Jobs would have been directly and personally involved, but in 2013 onwards, and how they respond to competitors products such as Windows 8. Will the magic leave Apple with the death of it's co-founder? Probably not, but there will still be a fight on by the current top team to prove that this isn't the case.
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