Special Event: What to expect from Apple Inc. on Sept. 10 by Philip Elmer-DeWitt @FortuneMagazine September 8, 2013, 11:25 AM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. FORTUNE — To readers paying close attention to press reports, there may not be many surprises Tuesday when Apple AAPL hosts its big September three-ring circus for analysts and the media. The critics will be unforgiving if the event’s tentpole announcements don’t include: The Phone 5S, a speedier iPhone 5, probably with fingerprint recognition for ID purposes, possibly with near-field communication (NFC) technology for buying stuff in stores. The iPhone 5C, a plastic-bodied iPhone that comes in colors and is slower, less powerful, lower-res and less expensive (e.g. $400 plus or minus). The release of iOS 7, the first top-to-bottom redesign of the face the iPhone shows the world, complete with new metaphors, new light sources, a Pandora knock-off and a look designed to make Samsung’s smartphones feel old fashioned. New programming and new tricks for Apple TV, Steve Jobs’ final “hobby” by which he hoped to someday disrupt the entertainment industry. Distribution deals with some of the world’s biggest holdouts, including China Mobile (740 million subscribers) and NTT DoCoMo (60 million). All this and maybe more will be duly reported — with specs, price points and other details filled in — Tuesday afternoon. But by Wednesday, Apple watchers will be wrestling with the darker questions — questions that have been swirling around the company since even before the stock started tanking in September 2012. Essentially, the issues that Wall Street has with Apple — the perceived problems that by April 2013 had lopped $280 billion (40%) off Apple’s market value — boil down to three negative story lines: That Apple without Steve Jobs can no longer innovate. That Apple’s products are over-engineered and overpriced, and that for most users, Android phones and tablets are good enough. That Apple can’t compete in the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets: China, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Nigeria, etc. Those are valid issues, and they deserve an answer. But until we see what Tim Cook has up his sleeves — and whether it delights or disappoints or even works as advertised — until then we won’t know whether the reports of Apple’s impending doom that we’ve been hearing for more than a year are, like Mark Twain’s obituary, premature.