For technology investors, the first month of 2015 will be an interesting one. With earnings season and several major media events, investors in Apple (AAPL 2.14%), Microsoft (MSFT 1.70%), Sony (SONY 1.14%), NVIDIA (NVDA 4.28%), and Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) should brace for a wave of announcements.
CES 2015: gadgets galore
The Consumer Electronics Expo will run from Jan. 6 to Jan. 9. Investors should expect a plethora of new TVs, handsets, mobile devices, wearables, Internet services, and smart home gadgets to be unveiled. Chipmaker NVIDIA, Japanese electronics giant Sony, and Korean conglomerate Samsung are the marquee presenters, alongside a host of smaller firms.
NVIDIA may release a next-generation Tegra chip during its presentation. In the past, NVIDIA has used CES to showcase its advancing Tegra technology, and the 2015 show could continue the trend. NVIDIA's Tegra chips haven't enjoyed widespread adoption, but its latest chip -- Tegra K1 -- is among the most capable in its class and powers the recently released Nexus 9.
Sony used its presentation at CES 2014 to showcase a number of new products and technologies, most notably, its streaming video game service, PlayStation Now. Improved televisions and cameras seem like a safe bet for this year's show, but Sony could unveil yet another new service this year -- PlayStation Vue, its Internet-based alternative to cable TV. PlayStation Vue has been in limited beta testing in recent weeks but has not received an official release.
Samsung's flagship handsets generally receive their own, individual press events. Investors, therefore, shouldn't expect the Galaxy S6's announcement at CES, but Samsung should use the event to unveil a slate of smart TVs, tablets, and connected appliances.
Apple earnings: iPhone 6 in focus
Apple hasn't given an exact date for its next earnings release, but it's likely to report some time during the last week of January.
The report will cover Apple's fiscal first quarter and should center around the iPhone 6. Demand for Apple's latest smartphone has reached unprecedented levels, soaring to such an extent that Apple's management was unable to offer much detail during its last earnings call.
This time around, investors should look for additional color: What is the percentage breakdown between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus? Are buyers opting for models with more internal memory? How many phones are being sold on contract-free plans in the U.S.?
Apple's other businesses will be less important, but the state of the iPad will also prove interesting. In recent quarters, demand for Apple's tablets has been falling -- the iPhone 6, with its larger screens, may have helped to accelerate that decline.
Microsoft to unveil Windows 10
Windows 10 is no secret. Microsoft has already made a number of announcements concerning its next operating system and most of its key features -- including the return of the classic start menu and the integration of its digital personal assistant, Cortana -- have already been unveiled with the release of the Windows 10 technical preview.
But on Jan. 21, Microsoft will hold its official Windows 10 press event, during which it should showcase even more details about the operating system, including how it works across the company's different Windows devices. The head of Microsoft's Xbox division, Phil Spencer, will be present, opening up the possibility that Windows 10 could soon even power Microsoft's Xbox One video game console, for example.
Investors should get a better sense of when Windows 10 will launch and at what price point, including whether or not it will be offered free-of-charge on certain platforms.