Apple investors aren’t exactly brimming with confidence ahead of the iPhone 6S launch in California later today. Shares in the tech giant have fallen 15% since reaching a July high, as concerns mount over a possible bottoming out of the firm’s lucrative Chinese market.
Boss Tim Cook will hope the firm’s latest array of slick gadgets will restore some of that lost shine. There’s its enlarged tablet (the iPad Pro), new operating systems (iOS 9, watchOS 2 and the bizarrely named Mac OS X El Capitan), an update to Apple Music, some new Apple Watch bands and the third generation of the Apple TV. Anyone hoping for a car may be disappointed, however.
The firm has high hopes for these non-phone items. The new Apple TV taking on Playstation or Xbox for the gaming market, or the Apple Watch leading the transition of smartwatches from novelty to essential item would provide the firm with a valuable new income stream.
As it is, Apple’s empire is still largely built on one product – the iPhone, which accounts for the lion’s share (approximately two-thirds) of its revenues. Given that those revenues were $49.6bn (£32.4bn) in the last reported quarter alone, that might not seem so bad.
But compared to the increasingly diverse offerings of rivals Amazon (e-tail, cloud services, tablets, game streaming, drones) and Google (web, mobile, PC software, the cloud, driverless cars…), Apple is more vulnerable to the fickle shifts in popular taste or the rise of new and disruptive rival.
Despite the firm’s attempts to stay diversified, smart watches are still small fish compared to smart phones and tablet sales have been falling for some time. The most important item Cook will unveil today will therefore be the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus – presumably less bendy, more snazzy iterations of the current flagship models.
Undoubtedly the launch will create a stir amongst the world’s affluent geeks, but whether it will be enough to meet investors’ extraordinary expectations remains to be seen.