In a day of whiplash-inducing reports about Apple’s health and future, the most tantalizing tidbit to emerge from the blogosphere was a simple date:
Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013.
That, according to a report in AllThingsD attributed only to “sources,” is when Apple will release a new iPhone.
Or perhaps two new iPhones.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment. But many analysts say Apple must offer a cheaper version of its iconic iPhone to stake out a position in the midrange of the Smartphone market, as sales of its higher-priced flagship model continue to slow and rivals introduce their own lower-priced gadgets. In the past, Apple has chased that value-seeking consumer by selling its older-model phones for $100 or $200 less than the latest and more expensive model. But speculation has gathered that Apple in September may unveil a new iPhone 5S alongside a lower-cost iPhone.
Regardless of what Apple comes up with, analyst John Jackson of IDC in Boston says, it’s got to be a home run.
“Investors, along with the rest of the world, are waiting with increasing impatience for Apple to wow them once again,” he said. “And whether it’s in September or not, the next event will arguably be the biggest product launch in Apple’s history because it will tell us about the future of the company as a true innovator.”
Apple’s hammered stock price, he said, is a clear sign that more and more investors are on the fence about Apple and wonder whether it can continue to live up to the legacy left by Steve Jobs of cranking out one mind-blowing product after another. “And whatever it is they introduce,” he said, “if there’s nothing that looks fundamentally new, the market will be greatly disappointed.”
There’s been buzz for months about such an unveiling. And the timing, if accurate, would be classic Apple. The company likes to announce software updates at its developers conference in June, give it a test drive for a few months, then officially release it to the world shortly before its latest product is announced in September.
So far, this year is no exception, as Apple shared its new mobile operating software in June, promising its iOS 7 will be available to the public in the fall.
In other Apple news Monday, its stock price jumped nearly 3 percent in daytime trading, helping the stock continue its long but steady rebound after falling from more than $700 to less than $400 a share. But in a more ominous bit of news, longtime Apple analyst Charles Wolf with Needham & Co., one of only two Apple watchers who still had a target price of more than $700 a share, said he was lowering his estimate to $595 a share.
That leaves Topeka Capital’s Brian White as the last over-$700 analyst standing, with a target of $888, down from his all-time high of $1,111.