WWDC 2013: Expectations said to be low, big Apple news coming this fall

WWDC 2013 Preview

As Apple fans gear up for the company’s big summer conference next week, it feels like there might not be any surprises in store for WWDC 2013. We already know plenty about iOS 7, the next version of OS X will be shown off, incremental updates to Apple’s MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines are expected, iCloud and Siri updates are likely coming, and iRadio may finally make its debut. The only real wild card, perhaps, is whether or not Apple will finally open up its Apple TV platform to third-party developers as it prepares to expand its TV efforts sometime in the future (Apple’s “Where A Whole New World’s Developing” signage at Moscone could certainly point to a big new opportunity for developers). According to RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani, investors’ expectations are “appropriately tempered” and the big product news from Apple isn’t expected until this coming fall.

“Look for AAPL to overhaul iOS7 with an updated design overseen by Jony Ive,” Daryanani wrote in a note to clients on Wednesday. “Notably, as it has been widely reported, the new iOS will have flatter icons and will move away from skewmorphism [sp] (digital interfaces that replicate the physical look). In addition, we expect enhancements to maps, iCloud and Siri, potentially enabling developers to leverage these offerings. With regards to iCloud, we would look for better management and transparency for users to see what they have stored in the cloud (specially via a mobile device). Overall, while we expect an aesthetic and visual overhaul of the UI (user interface), we don’t expect this to be a material EPS driver.”

The analyst expects iRadio to be “one of the more exciting launches at WWDC,” and he has high hopes for the service’s impact on Apple’s business.

“[iRadio] would launch AAPL into the streaming music industry and enable the company to leverage its “iAD” product to offer free (and premium) streaming radio service,” Daryanani wrote. “While recent industry articles suggest AAPL is facing delays due to contract negotiations with content providers, we do think this launch could be one of the more interesting launches at WWDC. A successful streaming service would bring back the stickiness that AAPL’s ecosystem has lost given the launch of multiple third-party streaming music services.”

He also sees MacBook Air and MacBook Pro refreshes coming next week, which would be in line with earlier reports. As for bigger product news, the Daryanani thinks we’ll have to sit tight.

“Beyond WWDC we believe the focus remains on product innovation and we expect multiple product lines to be refreshed in 2H:13,” the analyst said. “In particular, we would not be surprised to see 1) Retina display iPad Mini; 2) iPad 10″ refresh; 3) iPhone Mini product line; 4) iPhone 5s; and 5) the release of one additional new hardware product line, likely an iTV or iWatch. In our view, this continues to be the main drag on the company’s stock as investors are eagerly awaiting new products and innovation from the tech giant.”

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