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Apple’s marketing machine will be spinning at warp speed at the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco starting Monday. But marketing can only do so much.
The five-day event will be an opportunity for Apple to prove to the world that it can still innovate. With the smartphone and tablet markets increasingly saturated, the tech giant is under growing pressure to come up with the next big thing.
The Worldwide Developer Conference, or WWDC, is usually where Apple unveils software updates for its products. Upgraded laptops, desktops, and, occasionally, entirely new services are also frequently carted out onstage.
Last year, for example, Apple used WWDC to introduce a Spotify-like music streaming service that costs $10 monthly. Although hardly revolutionary, Apple Music has gained good traction with 13 million subscribers at the end of the last quarter.
A highlight from 2015’s conference:
Music is just part of a bigger push by Apple CEO Tim Cook to expand his company’s focus beyond gadgets to what he calls services, a catch-all that includes the App Store and the Apple Pay mobile wallet. They give Apple a steady revenue stream that is independent of selling more iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
What to expect at this year’s WWDC beyond the typical is anyone’s guess. Perhaps Apple will make Siri, its voice-activated personal assistant, available to outside developers to include in their apps and products. It would be one way to counter the threat of Amazon and its smart home hub, Echo, and its voice assistant, Alexa, which can turn off the lights on command and order an Uber.
But what you can count on Monday is Cook casting even the most minor product tweaks as innovative breakthroughs. Whether it will be enough to appease investors and return Apple’s shares (aapl) to their highs of a year ago is another story.