What’s Ahead For Apple? First, WWDC; Next Stop, iPhone 7

What’s Ahead For Apple? First, WWDC; Next Stop, iPhone 7
Image Source: Apple.Inc

Apple is preparing to kick off its next annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, and we’re expecting an extremely software-heavy event. Analysts have generally been focused on the iPhone 7, however, which is far more appealing because you can hold it in your hand and measure unit numbers – a metric Wall Street is perpetually focused on. At any rate, WWDC is usually a “buy on the rumor, sell on the news” event.

Siri to star at Apple’s WWDC

Apple perma-bull Brian White of Drexel Hamilton sees software as being one of iOS’ key differentiators and agrees with the many other reports that upgrades to Siri will take center stage at WWDC. He believes it’s “virtually impossible” for competitors that make Android phones to “ever create a digital matrix that rivals ‘Planet Apple.'” In line with widespread expectations, he believes Apple will show off iOS 10, OS X 10.12, which many believe will be renamed macOS, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10. White is also looking for updates to the frameworks for HomeKit, HealthKit and CarPlay.

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The analyst believes that currently, Siri is only “a shadow of what it could be if third-party apps were able to develop” around it. We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about Apple preparing to unveil a software development kit for the digital assistant to enable third-party app developers to utilize it. He also essentially suggests that the iPhone maker should borrow (or steal) the idea Amazon had for its Echo speaker, which utilizes its own digital assistant and has been a huge success since it was released only a short time ago.

White also suggests that Apple should develop a personal robot that utilizes Siri and is similar to ASUS’ Zenbo, which was unveiled at Computex. He also wants to see the company’s foray into the Internet of Things through HomeKit and CarPlay.

BMO bumps up Apple price target

Looking further out, analysts continue to debate whether the iPhone 7 will offer the rebound Apple needs in terms of unit sales. BMO Capital Markets analysts believe it will, whether or not it has upgrade-worthy features, because of the strong success of the Galaxy S7, which they don’t see as having any upgrade-worthy features. One thing that I would note about the jump from the Galaxy S6 to the S7 is that the S6 lineup lacked waterproofing and other popular features the S5 had.

In general, though, the BMO team thinks it is simply too early to judge whether the iPhone 7 will be a success. They do have a list of expectations for it, however: waterproofing, dual cameras, a 256GB memory option, multiple speakers, and the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack.

They did raise their price target for Apple slightly from $117 to $118 per share based on their most recent supply chain checks. They’ve increased their iPhone unit estimate to 42 million for the June quarter and 44 million for the September quarter, compared to their previous estimates of 38 million and 42 million, respectively. They said the iPhone supply chain has stabilized over the last month or two and that sales of the iPhone SE have been strong, although they also believe the replacement rate “is catching up after a soft period.

Shares of Apple stock edged lower by as much as 0.62% to $99.03 during regular trading hours on Friday.

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