This Apple event may be the most important ever

Unlike in years past, there are multiple product rumors and stories swirling around the cult tech stock. Here are the top 5 to watch.

By InvestorPlace Oct 3, 2011 8:41PM
By Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace.com

The world is on the edge of its seat again as we approach yet another landmark Apple (AAPL) launch. It's a little later than the previous summer splashes reserved for the latest iPhone -- the iPhone 5 -- but has just as much fanfare.

And for several reasons, the unveiling could be the most important event in the history of the iPhone since the first big reveal in 2007. One easily could argue that Apple has a lot more riding on this launch.


Here's what's at stake:


Can Cook match the magic of Jobs?
With the departure of iconic executive and founder Steve Jobs, this is the first true test for new CEO Tim Cook. Yes, Jobs' health problems have persisted, and you can bet Cook knows Apple like the back of his hand by now. But Apple is part gadget maker and part cultural force. Don't think the gadgets will speak for themselves -- Tim Cook needs to step up and be the new public face of Apple. As the chart below shows, launches occasionally herald the beginning of a big run for Apple as new gadgets wow investors with red-hot sales. Will there be another run after this event, or a ho-hum reception as with the iPad 2 last spring?


Can Apple go low-price and protect its brand? There are rumors that the iPhone might go populist for the first time, with an entry-level model priced at $99. The so-called iPhone 4S would have the same appearance but lower-priced internal parts -- the biggest money-saver being just 8GB of onboard memory, if you believe the rumors. Will consumers who have held off on an iPhone sign up for a lower-priced model with less flash? If they do, it could be a huge windfall, as Apple exerts its dominance at both the high end and low end of the market. But if it flops, more than dismal sales are on the line. Apple has always prided itself on a fantastic user experience, and if consumers start to get the impression that cost is trumping quality, that's a dangerous development. 

Will Apple change the shape of the iPhone? Literally every high-end smartphone on the market has emulated the Apple iPhone in its shape, touch-screen interface and profile -- at least as closely as possible without being sued by the tough guys at Apple's legal department. But one intriguing rumor has it that Apple could be reshaping the iPhone to a more ergonomic design, akin to a subtle teardrop instead of the current boxy appearance. There are even leaks of a redesigned home button. Tampering with the styling of a beloved product -- be it cars, company logos or even the picture on a juice carton -- can drastically affect sales. Apple better know what it's doing if it messes with a good thing.


Related: Does T-Mobile have 1 million iPhones already?


Is the iPod dead?
Perhaps the most interesting rumors are those surrounding the various iPod lines. Once a game-changer for Apple, the digital music player is now a mere 8% of Apple's total revenue. Is Apple going to try to reinvent it? Will it go low in price with a touch-screen device for $99 to replace its entry-level iPod Shuffle? Some people have even speculated that the iPod will be killed altogether, since every other Apple device can do what an iPod does -- and more. Will Cook even mention the gadget? The iPod either needs a significant refresh or it needs to be phased out.

Will Apple tell all?
Will Apple stick to the low-priced iPhone that has been rumored to launch? Will it focus just on the iPhone 5? Will it do both, with maybe a little bit of iPad 3 hype thrown in for good measure? Apple always closely manages its product release cycle, but this year has been especially challenging with the Verizon (VZ) iPhone to start the year, the iPad 2 in spring, a revamped iMac line, a new Mac OS and a handful of other developments. Despite all these other products, 50% of Apple revenue is derived from iPhone sales, so what the company does Tuesday could be more important than all of those other launches and upgrades combined.



Jeff Reeves is editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. Follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.




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10Comments
Oct 4, 2011 7:49AM
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 I dont know if its more amusing or disturbing. Reading this and other financial boards on MSN, you'd think that the I-phone was the center of the universe. From sites talking about how many people want to trade in their 'old' I-4 phones for a new I-5 and then right after it reading how much people are struggling to make ends meet day to day. It's all either media hype or there truely are alot of people wearing rose colored blinders to frenzy over a phone when its just that...a phone. People want to come on her and complain about gas prices (yes speculators are drivng up the prices plus taxes) when in actuality we've never paid the true 'costs' of gas...thats another long story not about a phone. So when people complain about $4.00 gas but wait in a line for days or want to trade in  perfectly working phones for a phone with a few extra tweeks that really are just new ways of swindling money out of you like the lack of  ATM  and online  access to BoA that force you to go from using your free services and having to go into a branch and then get charged the monthly fee for seeing a real live person(CEO's bonus checks must be a little low this 1/4) then it really shows where your priorities are and why the USA is in such trouble. When you spend more  every month on gadgets and sites to keep you 'connected' its no wonder nothing getting done in the real world.

 Need to get your heads out fo the sand people and look at what really matters...getting people back to work and righting the insanity ship called the U.S.A so that YOU the people run the show and not HE who has more to bribe their way in the front door and own your country from under you.

 So before running out to grab your shiney new I-5,pick up that stack of unpaid bills and then stand in front of a mirror and point your finger at the one who created them bills...now hopefully you slap some sense into the 1 you see in the mirror and pay off 1 of them bills instead of an overpriced piece of asian garbage that you'll want to upgrade from once the next latest and greates thing comes along.

 

Oct 4, 2011 8:40AM
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Well said Cizz-i-can. The priorities of the American public, and lack of individual responsibility for decisions people make, are beyond belief. How is it that people have money for the latest iPhone, Starbucks coffee everyday, cigarettes, and tattoos, yet they can't pay their electric bill? For some unknown reason they like to blame it on of greedy Wall Street and one political party or another..
Oct 4, 2011 7:49AM
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Electric car fan you may make a valid point, but your spelling just makes you look stupid.  Proofread brother and people might take you a lot more seriously.

Oct 4, 2011 10:19AM
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Lighten up people, its just a phone.  If you don't have any interest in it, don't pay attention, if you do, enjoy it.

Then again...I guess judging other people on what they spend their money on is the American way.

Oct 4, 2011 12:49PM
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Lb.  Lb.  pound, star, star, star, four, six, lb.lb.star, star, lb, lb, lb.  The next big innovation will just be linking to your car to do all the things you need to do.  The Smart Car, now thats a game changer.
Oct 4, 2011 12:54PM
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Gas was $2.99 at some stations yesterday.  I wasn't expecting $2 gas ever again.  Things must be bad all over.  Have noticed more closed stores in the area.  It's supprised me to keep noticing out of business and all must go signs.  Whole shopping centers mostly closed up.  I don't go to shopping centers much, guess most people go to CostCo too.
Oct 4, 2011 7:00AM
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it realy doesnt matter what apple does the 40% traders tax on gas is going to destroy the entire economy like it is already doing and apple will go down with the whole house of cards because they cant stop the speculators from the 40% traders tax on gas. its sooooo not rocket science that when you suck 30 billion a month out of the economy in order to pay this 40% traders tax on gas you destroy demand for other stuff. how is this not understandable??????​???????????
Oct 4, 2011 10:25AM
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Yawn. Did someone say Ice Cream Sandwich?
Oct 4, 2011 7:07AM
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no talking head no news media no nothing no body seems to want to stop the 40% traders tax on gas its as if there is a death wish that isnt being spoken. no apple no company anywhere will see there demand for products increase until the 40% traders tax on gas is elimanated. example:  feb 11 gas is 3 bucks oil is 70 a barell today gas is 4 bucks oil is 70 bucks a barell think you are i9n a free market think agin fool.
Oct 4, 2011 9:03AM
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Just what we DON'T need is another iPhone.
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