Barclays Capital said Apple Inc.'s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote featuring Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, iCloud and Steve Jobs could make the conference quite eventful.
Apple announced on Tuesday that Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs and other Apple executives will give a keynote address from the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6 at 1pm ET. Topics to be discussed at WWDC include Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud -- Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.
One of the biggest positives is that Steve Jobs will be part of the address (he is on medical leave since January 2011). Given a large part of the battle versus Android hinges on developer support and momentum, the importance of Steve’s inclusion on the agenda cannot be understated. It seems to us that investor concerns center around Android momentum and timing/features around the upcoming iPhone, said Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Capital.
Reitzes said while Lion and iOS 5 were widely expected to be topics (Apple previewed OS X Lion at a special event back on October 20, 2010), this is the first time Apple has officially acknowledged the existence of iCloud.
Some of the new (previously mentioned) features of Mac OS X Lion were expected to be the Mac App Store, Launchpad (to find and launch any app), system-wide support for full screen apps and Mission Control for easier navigation. Missing from the agenda is a mention around new hardware (Mac or iPhone), which have in the past made debuts at WWDC, Reitzes said.
As for Macs, Reitzes believes products such as the MacBook Air are due for a refresh -- which he could see debut at WWDC or shortly thereafter (update is not expected to be material).
As for iPhones, Reitzes wouldn't be surprised if new iPhone hardware is not discussed at this year's WWDC keynote given he still believes he won't see an update until the September timeframe due to new components (a switch to Qualcomm baseband).
Reitzes said iOS5 should be a major upgrade however (widgets, new menus, enhanced multi-tasking, etc.), and it will be important to see how new features improve the appeal of the iPhone and the entire Apple ecosystem (in the enterprise as well as consumer markets).
With regard to iCloud, Reitzes continues to look for Apple to use its cloud based iTunes/MobileMe service to further lock in customers to its ecosystem by making content (music, video, pictures and more) available seamlessly on all of its devices -- including iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and Macs.
Reitzes believes that iCloud is a major development that will increase the user friendliness of the Apple experience, freeing customers from wires (regular syncing to a Mac/PC) and increase the usability of every Apple device (and therefore sales).
To that end, the company has been busy signing deals with record companies to enable such a service (despite launching cloud-services neither Amazon nor Google Inc. has record contracts in place), Reitzes said.
Reitzes believes that Apple could charge a recurring fee for this service and will likely offer much more available memory than competitors like Amazon since its users have much larger libraries.
Theoretically, a cloud-based content service could allow Apple to offer cheaper versions of its devices with less on board memory -- which would help the company get more gadgets into the hands of consumers. We believe that Apple realizes this offering could help it sell more Macs, iPhones, iPods and iPads -- and the acceleration of its capital expenditure growth could be an indication of its potential, said Reitzes.
Reitzes noted that near field communication (NFC) capability on future products could also dovetail nicely with cloud based services by providing the availability to recognize users and potentially allow them to log in virtually directly into Macs and other devices remotely. He doesn't expect NFC capability on iPhones however until 2012.
We continue to believe Apple's shares can benefit from solid iPad and iPhone demand, Mac share gains, international expansion and a pipeline of innovations. We expect the stock to outperform in second half of 2011 as we move past iPhone product timing concerns, said Reitzes.
Apple stock rose 0.43 percent to $347 in the pre-market trading on the NASDAQ Stock Market.