: Apple’s launch event has one big unknown

: Apple’s launch event has one big unknown

11 Sep    Finance News

Apple will hold a virtual event on Sept. 15 that’s expected to bring a new Apple Watch and iPad Air.

AFP via Getty Images

It’s not often that Apple Inc.’s September launch event comes with a big question mark, but this year is different. 

Now that Apple AAPL, -1.31% has warned that its next iPhone will be delayed by a few weeks in the fall, there’s debate about whether the company will indeed announce the new family of devices during its event on Tuesday or whether it will save the smartphones for a future launch event. 

The tagline for the Sept. 15 virtual programming, “Time Flies,” suggests to some that Apple may focus the event on the Apple Watch along with some subscription-related developments like new bundled offerings. The new iPhones may get their debut at an October event, according to Bloomberg News.

But Lopez Research principal analyst Maribel Lopez still thinks the company will opt to unveil all its new products at once, including the iPhone. “When you’re thinking about timing, it’s better to launch earlier and have them arrive later, since you’re getting into the Christmas planning cycle,” Lopez said. 

When the iPhone does come out, it’s expected to be the first of Apple’s devices to feature 5G connectivity. Even though 5G isn’t allowing for too many game-changing experiences so far in the U.S., Lopez views this as a critical feature for Apple given that people tend to hold on to their smartphones for more than two years. Consumers may hesitate to buy new phones today that they know won’t be compatible with 5G technology once those networks become more widely available.

Apple could launch up to four new iPhones this year, though these devices may not ship until November. All of the devices are expected to have OLED screens and square edges, according to Bloomberg News. The most high-end device could feature a 6.7-inch diagonal screen, the largest yet for an iPhone, and that phone may have a LIDAR camera that allows for better engagement with augmented-reality applications. 

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The likely Apple Watch Series 6 should focus on health aspects, as 9to5 Mac has seen indications in Apple’s new mobile operating system that the company is looking to improve electrocardiogram readings with this next device. Code in the new operating system also suggests that Apple will add blood-oxygen detection, 9to5 Mac reported. 

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. 005930, -0.33% recently announced blood-pressure monitoring for its watch, a feature Lopez would like to see Apple add as well. 

“It’s increasingly difficult to see really big differences between the main hardware vendors,” she said. Apple, like other hardware companies, is trying to figure out how many more sensors it can pack into its devices, in her view. 

The Tuesday event, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ET, is also expected to bring a new iPad Air with thinner bezels and USB-C connectivity, like the more expensive iPad Pro already has. A 9to5Mac preview cites alleged leaked documentation of an instruction manual for the device, which also shows that the tablet could have a TouchID button on the side for authentication. The iPad Pro uses FaceID facial recognition and Apple has yet to add a fingerprint reader on the side of one of its devices. 

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Apple is also planning to finally begin bundling its subscription offerings in a package called Apple One, according to code found in the most recent Apple Music release for Android devices. 

The code, spotted by 9to5Google, didn’t have information about the pricing for this new service. The idea is that consumers will pay a lower price for the bundled offering than they would if they paid for the individual services on their own, and the bundles are intended to drive uptake of more Apple subscription services.

Bloomberg reported earlier in the summer that Apple would offer a basic package consisting of Apple Music and Apple TV+ while also layering on services like Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and iCloud storage in more expensive offerings. The company may also be rolling out a subscription fitness offering meant to rival Peloton Interactive Inc.’s PTON, -4.22% popular Connected Fitness product, which allows access to a library of virtual workouts. 

“This is all about trying to eliminate friction” in the process of buying Apple subscriptions, Lopez said of the bundling strategy. 

Some expect Apple to finally launch over-the-ear headphones that pack in some of the qualities of the company’s AirPod earbuds, including automatic pausing of music when a user takes off the headphones. 

Apple shares have enjoyed a strong 2020 rally, with shares up 53% on the year as the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.47%, which counts Apple as a component, has declined about 3%. There’s been optimism about Apple’s coming device lineup and its success in services, though shares have pulled back more than 16% from their Sept. 1 closing high amid a retreat from some of the tech names that saw big gains earlier in the year.

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