Brace yourself for a scary fact: 2022 is coming to an end. Yes, there is still some time before we have to turn the calendar to an entirely new year, undoubtedly with its own strange challenges and unpredictable events. Who knows: some of it might be even better!
The calendar is, of course, an arbitrary inflection point. But it’s one that people (and companies) stick to. For example, Apple has a handful of things tied to 2022 — with varying degrees of precision — that haven’t come out yet, and may not be at this late date.
Is this inability to hit targets purely derived from the challenging environment the world is in? Or is even a very large, highly profitable company struggling to deploy its resources accordingly?
Get your chip together
When Tim Cook announced the switch from the Mac to Apple silicon at the company’s 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference, it made a bold statement that the product line would switch over the course of two years. It started off on a good note with the release of the M1 MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini in the fall of that year; the iMac followed in the spring of 2021, with revamped MacBook Pros appearing in the fall of that year.
Within a year of the company’s first Apple silicone Macs being released, almost the entire product line had been moved; the company has even released a new model, the Mac Studio, with some very powerful chip configurations to boot.
But as 2022 draws to a close, there are still a few Intel laggards in the pack. The Mac mini has switched to the M1, yes, but a more expensive Intel model is still on sale. More importantly, the company’s most powerful machine, the Mac Pro, is still nowhere to be seen, except for a faint hint during the Mac Studio announcement in the spring of this year.
That the Mac Pro is still coming is a good bet. Rumors of its specs continue to circulate, with some really impressive reports of the power it will bring, so it’s no surprise that this, the most powerful machine the company has ever made, will last a little longer than expected. But even at the most charitable “two years” lecture, Apple’s time is running out.
Hardware is one thing: there are supply chains to manage, and we all know there have been many disruptions in recent years. But software and services seem like something that should be well under Apple’s control. So it’s also a bit surprising that another new product from the company that is set to release in 2022 also doesn’t seem to make it to the date: Apple Classical.
In August 2021, Apple acquired Primephonic, a prominent classical music streaming service. This filled a major gap in the company’s music app, which for many years has captivated classical music listeners for failing to provide a solid listening experience.
At the time, Apple stuck a stake in the ground and said:
Apple Music plans to launch a dedicated classical music app next year combining the classic Primephonic UI that fans have come to love with more added features. [emphasis added]
Apple is clearly working on the service code as it has been spotted in iOS 16 releases, but the most likely time to announce the service has come and gone, and it seems unlikely that it will appear in the final weeks of the year. That said, I tend to think that most Apple acquisitions usually take a few years to fully settle in (see Dark Sky), so maybe the timeline was just too ambitious.
The fly in the ointment
But here’s the thing with Apple: The company usually doesn’t like to make future predictions unless it’s ridiculously certain it will achieve its goal. Witness the company’s growing reluctance to make financial forecasts for the coming quarters; even if it does provide guidance, it is accused of sandbagging and providing numbers it will surely meet (and likely exceed). It’s the same reason the company tends not to pre-announce products, despite the prevalence of reports of “delays” in releasing things that never had a date in the first place: it wants to be in control of its story.
I’m sure Apple would ideally like to hit its timeline for all of its products, but the company has even more keys in the works this year. Just last week, it had to release a statement about manufacturing problems in the iPhone Pro lines due to a COVID outbreak at a factory in China.
While pandemic and supply chain issues are undoubtedly at the root of most of these problems, at times it can seem like Apple is struggling to walk and chew gum at the same time. The good news is that even missing these predictions is easily forgiven when the product in question eventually becomes a reality, especially if it delivers the promised performance. Some things are worth waiting for.