New iPhone, Apple announcements underwhelm Wall Street

Snazzy cameras, fingerprint ID, new colors, faster chips. But no iWatch. Photo: AP/Marcio José Sanchez

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple stock (AAPL) is tanking this afternoon following the company’s much-anticipated September press conference, primarily geared to announce the latest edition of the company’s popular iPhone line. The new iPhone 5C and 5S do incorporate some seriously snazzy updates. But what’s killing Apple’s stock right now is the simple fact that the Apple team had nothing else on today’s menu. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Just the new iPhone, most of whose features had already been extensively leaked.

Apple fans had already discounted the new iPhone models, including a significantly enhanced iPhone 5S and a much cheaper iPhone 5C whose most stunning innovation, aside from its $99 price tag, is that it comes—wait for it—in five new colors. That makes it, according to company CEO Tim Cook, “more fun and colorful” than any iPhone. No doubt, avid gamers are even now quivering in their Nikes with anticipation.

Conspicuously absent from the menu at today’s event: a new “iWatch” device to answer Samsung’s challenge; a new, exciting twist to Apple TV to pre-empt Google’s drive toward world dominance; and the anticipated Mac OS/X “Maverick” operating system upgrade. Also a now show was a rumored new iMac boasting Intel’s latest and fastest chipset, already available in this summer’s professional laptop models. 

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, during the introduction of the new iPhone 5c in Cupertino, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


Apple’s stock is currently off nearly $9 from yesterday’s close, taking the S&P 100 index (QQQ) down with it a bit due to its heavy weighting in that average. The Qs themselves, however, remain up for the day but off earlier highs as the market nears the closing bell.

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Among the biggest news items in today’s event was confirmation that Apple’s high end model will pack an ultra-fast A7 chip in its brain cavity, making the new phone twice as fast as iPhones powered by the previous A6 chip.

Cameras in both phones will get significant upgrades as well, with the 5S now offering larger pixels, a two-tone flash feature, and automatic image stabilization—addressing a crucial issue when taking smartphone photos in an active, jostling environment.

The lower-priced 5C’s camera is also enhanced. But then again, remember those swell new colors: green, blue, yellow, pink and white. The really big news for this otherwise underwhelming iPhone iteration is that it’s likely to be big news during Apple’s China announcements tomorrow. The company is evidently hoping that cheaper iPhone in that price-sensitive country will take its thus far anemic Chinese sales figures over the top.

Meanwhile, the higher-end 5S will have its own array of fancy new colors available, including silver, gold and something called “space gray.” The phone and its faster chip will also run more health and fitness apps than previous models, likely due to its faster speed, a feature that Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing guru claims is increasingly important for smartphone users.

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But the really big news surrounding the 5S is the company’s confirmation that this model also includes a new “Touch ID.” It’s a feature that enables the device to read fingerprints at a “detailed level,” making it the first portable phone ever to use that feature to unlock its OS. Analysts speculate that this could open the new phone to serve as a payment portal, which in turn could boost sales.

Pricing of the new iPhones will likely vary with the carrier. But subsidized prices are likely to range from $199 to $399 for the higher end phones under two-year contracts.

Also announced today but not available until September 18 was the iPhone’s new OS, iOS7, to be available as a free download on September 18. Craig Federighi, head of software at Apple Inc., bragged that “downloading iOS 7 is like getting an all new device.” Users will be able to download the new OS on the iPhone 4 and later models, as well as on the tablets beginning with the iPad 2.

Both iPhone models will be on sale on Sept. 20 in the U.S., Australia, China, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and U.K. Apple said this is the first time that a new phone has been available right away in China — a sign of the growing importance of that market to the company. People will be able to order the 5C in advance on Sept. 13.

Apple’s event concluded at roughly 2:15 p.m. EDT with special guest star Elvis Costello performing a new song. Neither Costello nor the new iPhones, however, were able to keep Apple’s stock from succumbing to it standard post-event swoon.

Apple has not yet become Microsoft (MSFT). But the absence of the late Steve Jobs’ legendary reality distortion zone was sorely missed in Cupertino this afternoon.

    —AP contributed to this report

Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business

Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17

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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  



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