Apple Amps Up MacBooks & iPads, But Leaves Market Wanting

4 minute read
Scott Raynovich avatar

Before we talk about what Apple announced today, let's first talk about what it did not announce. There was no giant iTV, there was no iWatch and there was no funky collapsible keyboard.

In other words, the army of speculative pundits got it wrong. Apple mostly announced a series of improvements to their existing line: Faster, lighter and sleeker MacBooks and iPads, with new chips and prices.

Is This All?

The reaction? Apple's stock price today went down just a bit, closing about a quarter of a percent to $520. It was not a disaster, by any means but once again, Apple fans and investors were hoping for more -- perhaps an entirely new product line.

This seems to have been the story for a long time with Apple, as everybody cries for more from Apple and CEO Tim Cook. Apple's stock price remains $200 lower than it's all-time high of $700 -- which ironically occurred well over a year after co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs died in 2011. As everybody likes to point out, product announcements in the post-Jobs era have been incremental rather than revolutionary, in nature.

Let's look at what was announced by Apple today:

  • The iPad Air: Thinner and lighter. The most notable change comes in the shape and the design, which makes the final product the same size as the screen, with a 9.7-inch Retina display and 2048 X 1536 pixel resolution.Features the 64-bit A7 processor and M7 motion coprocessor, which isalso found on the iPhone 5S with the benefit of saving battery life when you run GPS-enabled or motion-based apps. There are other new bells and whistles including MIMO 802.11n wireless support.
  • New iPad mini: It now comes with a 7.9-inch Retina display with 2048-by-1536 pixel resolution.  Starting price $399.  Also comes with the A7 chip. The overall size has been reduced and Apple says the screen of iPad mini is 35 percent larger than screens on comparable 7-inch tablets. Price of regular iPad mini drops to $299 from $329. Available sometime in November.
  • New MacBook Pros: Upgraded Intel Core "Haswell" processors with better batterylife, targeting 9 hours. The 13-inch model starts at $1,299, but that comes with only 9 GB of RAM. The 15-inchmodel has Iris pro graphics, Thunderbolt 2, 2GB of video memory, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The 15-inch price starts at $1,999 with a 2.0GHz Core i7 process and 8GB of RAM. Available today.
  • New Mac Pro: Apple calls it the "most radical Mac ever." Comes with up to 12-core Intel Xeon processors, six Thunderbolt 2 ports, and PCIe-based flash storage. It starts at $2,999. Available in December.
  • OS X Mavericks. Apple today made this new operating system (OS) as a free download on its website.

But wait... what was the speculation about? One of the ideas tossed out before today's event was the possibility of a gigantic and beautiful Apple TV, according to Bloomberg. Others were focused on a new keyboard cover, of all things. 

These things didn't happen.

Public Reaction

It will be interesting to see what the reaction from both Wall Street and Main Street is going forward. After Apple's last big announcement, the set of new iPhones announced in September, Wall Street analysts knocked down their earnings estimates.

Apple's stock has perked up a bit since then, though, and it appears to have developed a bit of a new uptrend.  Business appears to be fine. On Sept. 23, the company announced it had sold a record-breaking nine million iPhone 5s and 5c models just three days after the launch.

Learning Opportunities

Despite all this, Apple remains one of the most successful companies in theworld, both from a branding and financial level. During its fiscalthird quarter, announced on July 23, it made a net profit of $7 billionon $35 billion in revenue. It has more than $100 billion in cash and long-term investments on its balance sheet. Furthermore, it appears tobe accumulating cash at a rate of about $50 billion per year.

Several analysts who were contacted on deadline were not ready to comment on the record until they had issued their latest reports. These reports are likely to flow between now and tomorrow morning and will provide more information tomorrow.

Tomorrow we'll have an update on that market reaction.

(Disclosure: The author is a Mac user and a long-time owner of Apple shares, which remain in his languishing retirement account.)