Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) jumped Wednesday during its highly anticipated unveiling of a host of new high-profile software and hardware products, including the iPhone 5, in San Francisco.
While share prices remained slightly below the California-based company's recent record highs, a positive reception for the presentation produced strong expectations for Apple's earnings report at the end of this month and its continued expansion into the international smartphone market. Stock for what recently became the world's most valuable technology company jumped 1.6 percent in early afternoon trading during the unveiling of the iPhone 5. The share price peaked $668.29 during the iPhone 5 announcement itself, dropping again shortly afterward before closing at $669.79. It rose to $671.20 in after-hours trading Wednesday evening.
Apple shares had been approaching records throughout the end of the summer as the iPhone 5's shadow loomed ever closer. Last week, Apple reached record highs as anticipation for its new smartphone and additional products rose to a fever pitch, share prices climbing to $682.48.
This week, however, shares dropped the morning before Apple's press conference. Analysts are already beginning to speculate that Apple's relatively weak showing may be due in part to the shadow Apple's earlier technical breakthroughs cast over the iPhone 5.
Speaking to ABC News, Michael Holt, an analyst for the investment firm Morningstar, said the model of the new iPhone gave investors what they expected -- a larger screen and faster data speeds that provided much-needed visible changes to the design [which] will be easier for consumers to appreciate.
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Still, the iPhone failed to offer any of the great leaps forward that have defined Apple's success in previous generations. As a Wall Street Journal editorial penned shortly after the announcement put it: is the iPhone 5 boring?
Part of this is certainly due to the emergence of rival products in an increasingly competitive marketplace. To some extent, Apple is playing catch-up to Samsung with this release, Holt continued in his interview with ABC News. Additionally, as smartphones evolve, it is becoming more and more difficult to leapfrog the competition with unexpected features.
Samsung, the tech giant's chief rival that recently suffered a major legal defeat at the hands of the Apple's patented iPhone designs, still leads the smartphone market in sheer popularity. But the iPhone 5 still has the opportunity to change that as its manufacturers ramp up for the holiday season. Analysts speaking to Bloomberg estimated that the company could sell as many as 10 million units by the end of the of the month, which would help Apple make a stronger showing for its current quarterly earnings report.
Apple itself made its hopes to expand the iPhone's global reach clear at Wednesday's event. Before revealing the phone's images, CEO Tim Cook discussed Apple's increasing smartphone and laptop sales figures, noting that the company will be opening stores in its 13th international location later this year when it moves retail to Sweden.
Apple is still enjoying a 52-week share price high of $683.29. But in July, before its August rise, the company announced softer than expected third-quarter earnings, chalking the weak showing up to the fact that many current iPhone and Apple customers were waiting for the iPhone 5.