Tim Cook is due to announce a raft of new products and features at the Apple CEO’s Far Out event on Wednesday—but the jury is out whether he will deliver true meaningful innovations to his legion of devoted fans.
In addition to the latest iPhone generation, the event scheduled for 10 a.m. Pacific time could see the unveiling of the Apple Watch Series 8, a new version of AirPods Pro earbuds for improved sound, and potentially an improvement to its aging iPad tablet.
Cook’s line of iPhones is his crown jewel, however: Every second dollar in revenue the company generates stems from its flagship product. This time, rumors swirling around the presentation of the new iPhone 14 concern the demise of the Mini—potentially leaving the standard version as the smallest model in favor of a new, larger iPhone Max model—as well as the potential removal of the so-called notch on the phone’s front.
The notch was introduced with the iPhone X in 2017, which offered a larger edge-to-edge display that needed a small black area cutout as an aesthetic compromise in order to hide its facial recognition sensor and camera.
Apple experts also anticipate the company will reveal a new Pro version of the upcoming Watch Series 8, complete with the first redesign since the fourth generation in 2018. But hopes are dwindling that it might include heavily anticipated sensors capable of directly measuring either blood pressure or blood sugar levels to monitor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Apple is best known for its intuitive user experience, elegant design aesthetics, and seamless interoperability between devices. This helps lock consumers into their ecosystem so they are less likely to swap out a smartphone, tablet, or laptop for a competitor’s product.
Yet the company that reinvented consumer electronics with the iPod MP3 player has not had a major breakthrough since Steve Jobs held the first iPhone in his hands 15 years ago.
Products like the iPad have been evolutionary while the Apple Watch copied a trend toward wearables popularized by the likes of Samsung Gear watches as well as Garmin and Fitbit fitness trackers.
When the iPhone 12 was revealed in October 2020, it was the first Apple device to support millimeter wave technology, the fastest 5G connectivity available. Last year, however, the biggest hardware upgrade came with a redesigned camera system in the Pro and Pro Max, featuring a 3x telescopic zoom.
This has prompted many to think Elon Musk’s Tesla has overtaken Apple in terms of technology. The visionary Tesla CEO is due to unveil at his AI Day at the end of this month a prototype for an everyday humanoid robot that will eventually cost less than a car—when and if it ever launches.
By comparison, Tim Cook’s investors have been waiting on a possible Apple iCar for close to a decade. Even a mixed augmented/virtual reality headset teased by the CEO in June that could compete with existing offerings like Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Quest 2 or even the more mass-market Sony PlayStation VR doesn’t appear to be due anytime soon.
While critics may malign Apple for pretending new colors for the iPhone or a return to precise battery charge readings in iOS 16 is a substitute for innovation, it remains a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut.
At the end of July, Apple posted record fiscal third-quarter revenue of $83 billion despite supply constraints, forex headwinds, and an impact from the loss of business in Russia.
While the stock has not been able to maintain its $3 trillion market cap from January—the first company to hit this high-water mark—Apple remains the most valuable megacap in the world ahead of Saudi oil giant Aramco.