Apple is hoping that new apps and services can cause as much excitement as its hardware as it prepares to unveil the next versions of its iPhone and Mac software on Monday.
At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, Apple is not expected to reveal long-awaited fresh devices such as its ”iWatch“.
It is, however, likely to show new health and smart-home applications as part of iOS 8, the next version of the iPhone and iPad’s software, and a new look for Mac OS X, its desktop operating system.
In the run-up to the event, shares in Apple rallied to their highest point since the iPhone 5 went on sale in autumn 2012.
Alongside confirmation of its $3 billion (Dh11.01 billion) acquisition of Beats, the headphone and music-service maker, Apple’s head of internet software and services, Eddy Cue, told the Code conference in California last week: ”Later this year, we’ve got the best product pipeline that I’ve seen... in my 25 years at Apple.“
The stock closed at $633 on Friday, up about 8 per cent in the past month. According to data from BTIG Research, that marks the biggest share-price rise in the month preceding a WWDC event since 2010, when the late Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 4.
But the keynote speech by Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, before thousands of developers can often mark a peak in the stock. Apple’s shares have fallen on the day of WWDC for each of the past six years, according to BTIG, by an average of 1.4 per cent.
Many large investors remain wary of Apple, according to analysts at UBS, in the absence of new hardware launches.
”Investor sentiment has been somewhat apathetic as reflected by two-thirds of funds owning Apple being underweight,“ said Steve Milunovich of UBS in a note. ”That view may change... The point is that innovation is not dead.“
Alongside a new smart-home platform, Apple is widely rumoured to be preparing a new iPhone app called Healthbook, which will act as a central repository for medical and fitness information from other apps and wearable devices.
Leaks of Healthbook’s design to Apple blog 9to5Mac suggest the app will resemble Passbook, Apple’s virtual wallet for store loyalty cards, event tickets or travel information, and prepare the ground for the launch of the iWatch later this year.
Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note last week: ”While Apple’s software-only events have rarely captured the same level of excitement as its hardware launches, we believe this should change.
”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.“
Apple’s event comes a few weeks before Google’s developer conference, I/O, where it is rumoured it will unveil a television platform based on Android, its smartphone operating system, as well as ”smart watches“ running the new Android Wear.
This week in San Francisco will also see the Tizen Developer Conference, aimed at rallying support for a new operating system developed by Samsung and Intel for wearables, connected vehicles and the internet of things.