June 02--SAN FRANCISCO -- Crowds formed Monday morning outside of Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference ahead of a keynote address expected to feature CEO Tim Cook announcing new software advances for Apple's popular consumer devices.
While many attendees arrived early for the 10 a.m. keynote address, other attendees faced tough travel to the event as San Francisco'sMunicipal Transportation Agency suffered long delays amid a "sick out" by employees embroiled in a contract dispute.
WWDC keynotes were the home of iPhone debuts until 2011, when those highly anticipated events moved to their own schedule. Since then, Apple has mostly used WWDC to show off new versions of Apple's mobile and desktop operating systems and new software offerings -- in 2013, Apple debuted the beginnings of its CarPlay automotive offering as well as its iTunes Radio streaming service along with iOS 7 and OS Mavericks. Several cars were parked within the event center Monday morning, suggesting Apple would again focus on in-car offerings this year.
Apple investors, developers and fans had high expectations for the event despite expectations that no new gadgets would appear.
"While Apple's software-only events have rarely captured the same level of excitement as its hardware launches, we believe this should change," Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope wrote in a note late last week. "Indeed, with the potential for substantial hardware differentiation and few new hardware categories that can substantially impact Apple's $175 billion revenue base, iOS platform differentiation is becoming increasingly critical."
Reports leading up to the event suggested the Cupertino company would roll out new software that helps users control their homes or monitor their health, along with possibly providing more detail about the future of Beats, the headphones and streaming-audio company that Apple plans to purchase for $3 billion, its largest-ever acquisition.
Apple enters WWDC on a Wall Street roll, reaching 52-week highs in each of the past five trading sessions ahead of a 7-to-1 stock split expected to take place June 9 for investors who owned shares as of Monday. The gains ahead of Apple's annual event are nothing new, as BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk pointed out in a note Friday: Apple has gained an average of 4.1 percent in the month leading up to WWDC in the previous six years, but has fallen or failed to move on the day of and day after the event in each of those years, with average declines of 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.
"However, this time around there doesn't seem to be high expectations for any major new product releases," Piecyk noted in his report. "Maybe that could enable Apple to break its six-year streak of selling off the day of and day after the WWDC conference."
This year, Apple shares gained 7.2 percent in the month of May, but were sliding Monday morning: at 9 a.m. Pacific time, the end of the morning trading session on Wall Street, Apple shares had dropped 0.2 percent to $631.53.
Staff writer Troy Wolverton contributed to this report. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.
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