Big things are on the way from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) .
As we prepare to turn the page on May to June, Apple's highly anticipated product launch schedule is set to ramp up in the months ahead, and Apple investors are waiting with bated breath to see what the tech giant has up its sleeve.
Next week, Apple will host its World Wide Developers Conference, or WWDC, in San Francisco. And while no one knows for sure whether Apple will include any major announcements, here are three key storylines Apple investors should watch out for.
1. Software updates
Apple is widely expected to unveil the most recent updates to its iOS mobile operating system and OSX desktop.
In terms of specific features to watch for, perhaps the hottest rumor regarding Apple's upcoming software updates is that Apple plans to use WWDC to highlight new smart home functionality.
The move would be Apple's most serious push into the "Internet of Things," one of the hottest buzz phrases in tech right now. In terms of specifics, reports claim that Apple's smart home software will enable universal control of disparate areas of the smart home into a single place for consumers and into a unified API for developers, a win in both regards.
This would be one of the most significant extensions of Apple's mobile software in recent memory and an absolute must-watch for its investors. So while this storyline has only recently broken, make sure to check back regularly for our follow-on commentary.
2. iTunes Radio unbundling
With digital music sales and downloads quickly eroding in favor of the various steaming options available today, like Pandora and the privately held Spotify, Apple is playing catch-up in digital music these days.
Apple launched its Pandora-like iTunes Radio offering last year in hopes of gaining a toehold in this space, and it appears to have done so. In its usual tight-lipped fashion, Apple hasn't provided regular updates about iTunes Radio's user base, but the general consensus is that it remains far below that of comparable offerings from Pandora, Spotify, and the like. However, that also might be as much Apple's fault as anyone else's.
One of the most talked about strategic moves Apple could make in terms of highlighting its iTunes Radio service at WWDC would be to introduce a version of the app that's unbundled from the rest of Apple's iTunes music software in which its currently buried. By unbundling iTunes Radio, and the possible on-demand music service Apple might acquire from Beats, Apple could go a long way toward increasing iTunes Radio's overall exposure to consumers, which would have an understandably positive effect on overall adoption.
Again, stay tuned on this one.
3. New products
This one might be more elusive for Apple investors.
According to most reports, Apple won't be launching any of most widely rumored future products, namely its iWatch or a more advanced version of its Apple TV. And although it would certainly delight Apple investors and enthusiasts alike, there's plenty to suggest that Apple would choose to launch a major next-gen product away from the fanfare of WWDC.
As we've seen repeatedly over the years with both the iPhone and iPad, Apple prefers to hold isolated product-specific launch events for its marquee products, which either its iWatch or improved Apple TV would probably be. The reasoning is simple: Specific launch events allow Apple to maximize the attention it gets from the media and consumers alike.
Apple's the king of building product launches into grand attractions in and of themselves, and it's more likely than not it would chose to do the same with any of its most talked about future products rather than unveil them amid the hubbub at WWDC.
Apple's just getting started
The next six months are so will probably prove pivotal in shaping Apple's future course.
The iPhone 6 is due for Apple's customary form factor overhaul that takes place every two years, although it's less clear whether the same can be said about the iPad.
However, Apple is on the hook to launch at least one new major product in FY 2014 from among the many possible game-changing products rumored to be developed deep within its corporate folds. And for investors, this implies the return of some much-needed growth for Apple.
So while WWDC might not bring as much action as consumers and investors had hoped for, there are more than enough key storylines likely to unfold to keep Apple investors busy, so make sure to check back for all the Fool's coverage of Apple WWDC.
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