Apple gets no love from Wall Street for new iPhone

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CUPERTINO, CALIF. (AP) - The most closely kept secret about the iPhone 5? There isn’t one _ yet.

The new iPhone is faster, has a better camera and allows you to sync content without needing a computer. It includes a futuristic, voice-activated service that responds to spoken commands and questions such as “Do I need an umbrella today?” It will now be available to Sprint customers as well as those from AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

But there’s a catch. Apple named it 4S when most people were expecting the iPhone 5. Immediately, tech bloggers and Apple fans alike began to wonder if this new iPhone was not as cool as they had hoped. Investors were disappointed, too. Apple’s stock fell more than 5 percent before getting a late bump.

If Tuesday’s unveiling seemed like a letdown, it was because Apple didn’t do a good job of managing expectations. That’s a familiar problem for Apple, whose penchant for secrecy invites hyperbolic speculation between its product announcements. Given that it had been 16 months since the previous iPhone hit the market, imaginations had even more time to run wild this time.

“This is the typical Apple scenario: People keep wanting it to do the impossible,” said Tim Bajarin, a Creative Strategies analyst who has been following the company for decades.

Apple’s approach to the event didn’t do any favors for Tim Cook in his first major public appearance since he succeeded Steve Jobs as CEO six weeks ago. Jobs, the Apple visionary and co-founder, relinquished the reins to focus on his health problems.

Cook handled his presentation in a pedestrian fashion that lacked Jobs’ flair. The format and stage setting were similar to the presentations that Jobs had orchestrated so masterfully, giving Cook little opportunity to make his own mark, said Adam Hanft, a marketing consultant who runs his own firm in New York.

“It wasn’t fair to Tim in his inaugural because there he didn’t have any product to show off that was a real barnburner,” Hanft said.

“This allowed him to get his sea legs, but he still needs to find his voice and style. They need to come up with a new setting that is equally Apple-like aesthetically, but not the same that they had while Steve was there.”

Even though the iPhone 4S is an improvement over its predecessor, it isn’t being perceived as a breakthrough partly because it’s not being branded as an iPhone 5, as most people had been expecting, said Prashant Malaviya, a marketing professor at Georgetown University.

Not all investors were disappointed.

Stephen Coleman, chief investment officer for Daedalus Capital and an Apple investor since 2004, calls his Apple stock “the safest investment that I own.” He said Tuesday’s upgrades were “incremental” _ and praised Apple for not messing too much with a model that’s working.

“To those who say they’re underwhelmed, I’d say they’ve been fast asleep,” Coleman said. “Anyone who’s been paying attention at all would have to be dazzled by the product, and earnings.”

The stock has risen more than 15 percent this year, at one point hitting an all-time high of $422.86. It has nearly quadrupled since the first iPhone was announced in 2007. The device has been the cornerstone of one of the most remarkable runs in technology history. Apple is now one of the world’s most richly valued companies, holding its own against oil companies and international conglomerates.

“What is there to lament?” Coleman said. “For people like me, it’s peace on earth. This is one of the great economic stories of our time.”

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