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Is Apple's Next Revolution a Mere Evolution?

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Tomorrow at 1 Eastern/10 Pacific, The Motley Fool's top analysts will be hosting a live blog breaking down what Apple's iPhone 5 press conference means for investors. The best part? They'll also be taking any questions you have about the phone and Apple as an investment as well. Make sure to set a reminder to come back to this Tuesday for all your iPhone 5 news and analysis!

The iPhone 5 is coming. Or at least, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is getting ready to unveil the iPhone 4S on Tuesday. Maybe we'll get both.

Either way, the annual iPhone refresh is running late when compared with previous years. If the 4S becomes a reality, it's probably a juiced-up iPhone 4 with more memory and the faster ARM (Nasdaq: ARMH  ) processor already found in the iPad 2 -- not a complete overhaul of last year's model. Rumor would have it that Apple is introducing a lower-end iPhone 4 as well, same as the existing models but with less memory. And finally, if the iPhone 5 is real, I haven't heard anything pointing to awesome new features. At best, you'll also see a better OmniVision Technologies (Nasdaq: OVTI  ) camera chip, a redesigned case, and improved software.

Does this sound like the iPhone revolutions we've come to expect every summer? It's late, the new offerings seem underwhelming on paper, and the software improvements that might be the iPhone 5's best selling point will probably trickle down to earlier models anyhow.

Where's the beef?
Apple investors typically bid up share prices significantly in the weeks leading up to a new iPhone release. This time, Apple shares have been sliding instead. The lack of investable excitement is palpable.

So is this where Apple runs out of unicorn juice and magical rainbows? If the iPhone 5 doesn't impress -- or, worse, doesn't exist -- then the Android cohort led by Samsung, HTC, and Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) gets a primo opportunity to rush in and start grabbing market share from Cupertino's shackled hands. Maybe even Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) get a second lease on life with respective new software platforms to promote.

Yeah, maybe. But probably not.

Remember the iPhone 3GS? Not much more than a speed-bumped iPhone 3, that old smartphone fossil didn't come out swinging, either -- but it shipped in record volume anyhow. A recent price drop on that graybeard gave it another turn in the big-sales spotlight. The darn thing is two years old and supposedly not much of an upgrade when it was new.

Do you really doubt Apple's ability to pull off that trick twice? I don't.

The proof is in Tuesday's pudding, most likely followed by rambunctious pre-order numbers. To help you keep your eye peeled on the product announcement and its collateral damage across the mobile industry, we've built the My Watchlist feature. Add Apple and other mobile players to your watchlist, then soak in all the news and analysis you can handle:

Fool contributor Anders Bylund has created a synthetic long position in OmniVision but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Research In Motion and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 03, 2011, at 11:55 PM, xmmj wrote:

    You miss the point. First, the hardware upgrades are not that trivial. The A5 processor is many times more powerful than its predicessor.

    But the big game changer will be iCloud. People do not think much about it because it has been described for a while now. But it is a real game changer.

    To understand the real implications and how it forced Amazon into selling its new Fire tablet at a loss, red the provocative analysis at:

  • Report this Comment On October 03, 2011, at 11:57 PM, kpbpsw wrote:

    It will be all about the software, the hardware that everyone is focusing on is just the side show.

    If iOS 5 with fully integrated voice interface works well it will put Apple back to where it was when it released the 1st iPhone about 2 years ahead of everyone else and with even better IP / Patent protection.

  • Report this Comment On October 04, 2011, at 10:27 AM, Brent2223 wrote:

    Exactly, it's the software that sets the iPhone apart from the competition and I hope Apple continues to focus on this rather than making things load .002 seconds faster. Can't wait for iCloud so I can finally pull the plug on desktop PC's for good!

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