Tim Cook was put in a difficult position after Steve Jobs passed. He needed to build a culture for a company that, in the past, relied on the strength of a co-founder to carry it through many of the day-to-day routines. At the 2014 WWDC, the new Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), the post-Steve Jobs Apple, found its voice. It seemed to have put developers first. By Apple's management sticking to the fundamentals of enabling developers to build great products, long term Apple investors will benefit from a loyal installed base and increased conversions from Android.
Investors' goals are not perfectly aligned with developers
Investors want Apple to announce new products that can be sold right away, but developers have a different time frame. Developers need Apple to act as an enabler, setting the stage for ground-breaking new products, rather than offering them directly to consumers. But, the development cycle takes time.
Investors, on the other hand, like big, new product announcements with availability dates that offer a tangible reason to make a purchase. The same catalyst for consumers to go to an Apple store and lay out cash for a new device is also the catalyst for investors to buy shares. No new hardware means less of a reason to purchase a handset. However, longer term, the better ecosystem should draw more users.
Apple's share price is less affected by events than in the past
As speculated in "Shorts Beware: Apple Is No Longer a Sell the News Candidate," by Apple using its cash position to pay dividends and buy back shares, it attracts a longer-term investor base, which takes profit out of shorting the stock. Since investors are paid to hold shares, rather than trade them, the stock should be less volatile to future events. With Apple's $100 billion plus capital return strategy, the company is attempting to attract a shareholder base that is long-term minded.
Patents and contracts hint at a Liquid Metal iPhone on the horizon
Even though the new iPhone wasn't mentioned in the keynote, it will likely be coming in the near future. On May 19, Apple announced that it would be renewing a licensing agreement for Liquidmetal's intellectual property for use in consumer electronics. This announcement, combined with the patent award for "Methods and Systems for Integrally Trapping a Glass Insert in a Metal Bezel" hint strongly that a new iPhone will be coming. Since the patent was awarded on May 27, it may have been too close to the conference to make the announcement in the keynote and judging by investor's reaction, they seem content to wait.
It's all about the apps
Apple's continued focus on providing developers with the tools and support needed to build businesses around iOS and OS X is a lesson that isn't lost on BlackBerry (NYSE:BB). Recently, at the Re/code conference, John Chen acknowledged that the company can't compete for developers. It was a sad admission from the company that pioneered and developed the smartphone market 20 years ago. The upside is that BlackBerry is embracing Android apps, enabling them to run on its platform and be sold through its app store. If voice calling is considered an app, then a handset's success is all about developers.
Investors may have to wait for the next latest and greatest device, but patents and contracts offer hints into what it may look like, and investors are being paid to wait by receiving a dividend and support from buybacks. Throughout the keynote, Apple managers worked as a team to discuss how each software component fit as a part of an integrated ecosystem. Tim Cook seems to have finally brought the company out from Steve Jobs' shadow by delegating responsibility to line managers. This is a dramatic difference from the short-term swings of prior years.