What To Watch For At Apple's WWDC
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL)'s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is set to kick off Monday at 1 p.m. EST. Analysts and observers alike are expecting a host of exciting announcements.
Here's what you should be looking for.
Apple is expected to unveil its highly-anticipated music streaming platform. The subscription-based service is expected to cost $10 per month and offer patrons unlimited access to the music giant's vast library of songs.
Bank of America analyst Wamsi Mohan believes that "streaming is the future" for Apple. He noted in a June 5 report that music downloads have shrunk, once constituting 80 percent of iTunes revenue to now only about 50 percent. He sees Apple as being well positioned to expand into the streaming market.
"There are over [a billion] iOS devices sold, but Spotify has only [about 15 million] paying subscribers," he wrote.
Mohan expects Apple to continue to offer the option to buy individual songs, but lean more heavily on the subscription service.
He believes Apple could differentiate itself from current companies offering music streaming by providing exclusive content from top artists, giving artists more exposure to their fan bases, and creating a social media platform to allow interaction between artists and listeners.
In a report published Monday, JP Morgan analyst Rod Hall encouraged investors to watch for "the way that Apple engages its platform with artists given the artist-centric influence that we believe Beats founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre have likely encouraged at Apple."
Despite Mohan and others' positive outlooks, Cantor analyst Brian White, in a Monday report, said that he doesn't think that a streaming platform would have a significant impact on the company's revenues.
"We believe this potential new service can enhance the company's digital ecosystem, rather than move Apple's financial needle," White wrote.
Wamsi expects Apple to preview iOS 9 beta, but also potentially unveil an update to iOS 8 that would available more imminently. According to the analyst, "New features expected in iOS 9 include enhanced Apple Watch support, new Maps App, updates to Siri and updates to Car Play and Home Kit."
According to White, the focus for the new iOS will be on "improving the user experience, rather than delivering a major aesthetic overhaul or introducing a plethora of new features."
Apple Watch Updates
Wamsi said Apple could unveil a toolkit for Apple Watch app developers. He believes an updated WatchOS interface might also now give access to third-party software, whereas currently only native Apple apps are allowed.
White cites several recent media reports in predicting that Apple would not unveil its rumored television streaming service at this year's WWDC. He said stalled negotiations with networks have delayed the timeline for the platform.
Wamsi said the product will likely offer 25 channels with a price tag of between $30 and $40 a month, targeting the lower end of the cable market.
Related Link: For Apple, Streaming Is A 'Necessity Not An Option'
Mohan expects to see updates sales statistics for the Apple Watch and possibly the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. He cited a recent press release saying that the watch would be available in seven more countries by the end of June as one reason to expect positive numbers. Another reason for optimism, according to him, is executives' report that that the market response to the Apple Watch so far has exceeded their expectations.
Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um focused on prospects for the iPhone 6s, which is anticipated for this fall. Despite the buzz surrounding the new model, he doesn't think that the phone's gross margins will expand beyond those of the original iPhone 6. In fact, he predicts the 6s will face greater gross margin pressure than the current version. Although these future prospects won't be discussed at Monday's conference, they will be important to consider as Apple executives discuss the company's current sales numbers.
As always, Apple's WWDC figures to be an important moment for both consumers and investors as they get a peek at the tech giant's biggest projects.
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