The software upgrades, new services and beefed-up Macs unveiled by Apple on Monday are sure to please hard-core brand loyalists such as designers, photographers and video professionals -- as well as the millions of developers who create its applications.
Yet, it's far from certain whether the latest enhancements to the company's technology portfolio will be enough to prompt fickle consumers to wait for new Apple hardware on which to use them.
With no new versions of the iPhone or iPad to show off this week, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook may be hard-pressed to blunt the momentum of the company's rivals in the smartphone and tablet computer markets.
The newest versions of Apple's desktop and mobile operating systems will have better sharing tools, multi-screen capabilities and the ability to juggle multiple apps at once.
Those are all long-awaited advances that were greeted with loud cheers by attendees of the company's developers conference here.
But the newest version of iOS 7 -- Apple's smartphone OS -- won't be available to consumers until the fall, and Cook needs to garner the spending money of new hardware customers soon to reignite the company's revenue and profit growth.
The biggest news for consumers was not a handheld device, however, but a new Internet radio service -- one that will help the company's bottom line significantly only if users listen to it using Apple's own devices.
While the digital music business is more of a loss leader than a cash cow for Apple, the iPhone contributes slightly more than half of the company's revenue and -- along with iPads and Macs -- most of its profit.
As Samsung Electronics, HTC and other makers of smartphones and handheld computers powered by Google's rival Android software release their own new products, Apple is facing intense pricing pressure.
That's why its gross profit margin plunged to 37.5% of revenue for the quarter ended in March, a drop of almost 10 percentage points from 47.4% of revenue a year earlier.
Rather than new handhelds, Apple's big hardware news this week consisted of two new MacBook Air laptops with much-improved battery life and a powerful Macintosh designed for professional users.
The more efficient laptops, which are available immediately, will likely find favor with professionals who use power-hungry applications while they travel or work remotely.
The ProTower version of the Macintosh, meanwhile, supports the use of three separate displays simultaneously -- something engineers, designers and developers will love.
Meanwhile, Apple's main new thrust in mobile software was an overhaul of its user interface.
The new look and feel, spearheaded by Apple design guru Jony Ive, should appeal to more experienced and sophisticated smartphone users in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan.
However, its most important feature advance, which allows users to run multiple mobile apps simultaneously, merely matches a capability that Android phones have had for more than a year.
That feature gap helps explain why South Korean giant Samsung shipped almost twice the number of smartphones in the first quarter than Apple did, according to market researcher Strategy Analytics.
Samsung controlled 33% of global smartphone shipments in the first quarter, up from 29% a year earlier.
Apple's share, by contrast, fell to 17% from 23%.
John Shinal has covered tech and financial markets for 15 years at Bloomberg Businessweek, The San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch, Wall Street Journal Digital Network and others.
Most Popular Stories
- Criminal Investigation Opened Into James Foley's Death
- Is Diversity in the Eye of the Beholder?
- Apple Stock Bounces Back Big Time
- Investors Betting on ECB Stimulus Measures
- 'Mythbusters' Build Team Gets the Boot
- Jennifer Lopez Would Marry Again
- Florida Judge Rules in Favor of GOP Voter Map
- Mo'Ne Davis a Big Winner Despite Loss
- DHS Warns Retailers About Malware in Cash Registers
- Hackers Get Homeland Security Employee Records