Apple May Focus on iOS, Mac at Developers Conference
Apple Inc. (AAPL) will kick off its annual developers conference Monday, and anticipation is growing over the possibility of a raft of new software apps and products, as well as a revamp of its signature line of Mac computers.
Few, however, expect the company to announce its next iPhone at the event. That product is far more likely to hit sometime this fall, analysts say.
Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, will also be another in a series of firsts for the company over the last eight months, as last year’s developers’ gathering featured the final public appearance of co-founder and then-Chief Executive Steve Jobs before he died of cancer in October. Jobs had usually handled the emcee duties with keynote presentation to start the conference, but Apple hasn’t said if current CEO Tim Cook will take the stage at this year’s event.
While Apple has been typically tight-lipped about what will take place at the developers’ conference, the company has at least let it be known that it will give updates about Mountain Lion, as well as the iOS operating system used by the iPhone and iPad.
But aside from those bits of information, the company has said nothing more about what will take place at the event. still, that hasn’t stopped speculation about what Apple might have up its sleeve when the show gets underway.
As it has been more than a year since Apple refreshed its iMac line, several analysts have said it makes sense for Apple to unveil new Mac models soon, and in time for the back-to-school and end-of-the-year shopping seasons.
Van Baker, research vice president with Gartner Inc., actually downplayed expectations about any actual products at this year’s conference, saying if Apple rolls out anything new, it will likely be regarding the MacBook line of laptops. Baker said he does expect “a fair amount of information” to come out regarding Mountain Lion, the next release of the Mac operating system.
“A lot of attention has been around the potential for new Macs with HD retina displays,” said Shaw Wu, of Sterne Agee. “We believe the bigger news could be around new software features in iOS and OS X.”
Wu said that among the new features he expects to get attention will be an enhanced map application for use with the iPhone and iPad. Apple reportedly has such an app ready to launch and will use it to replace the current map application from Google Inc. (GOOG) that is currently pre-loaded on every iPhone and iPad.
Wu holds a buy rating and $780 price target on Apple’s stock.
Gene Munster, who covers Apple for Piper Jaffray, echoed some of Wu’s thoughts about Apple introducing its own mobile-mapping app, and that this is just the beginning of a new battlefront between the two tech giants.
“We expect a continued tug-of-war between Apple and Google,” Munster said in a research note. “Google is likely to push more of its apps through the [Apple] App Store, including [Web browser] Chrome, while Apple will continue to innovate around discovery through the iPhone through Siri.”
Munster maintained his overweight, or buy rating, and $910 stock-price target on Apple.
Brian Marshall of ISI Group predicted that Apple will announce “a refresh of its Macbook Pro with higher-resolution displays, a slimmer design, new Intel Ivy Bridge processors, a flash memory cache to speed up boot times and improved battery life,” in a note to clients on Thursday.
He also said he expects “native Facebook integration” to be built into iOS, as well improvements to the iCloud service. Marshall rates Apple shares as a buy with a $750 price target.