The world is on the edge of its seat again as we approach yet another landmark Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launch. It’s a little bit later than the previous summer splashes reserved for the latest iPhone model — the iPhone 5 — but has just as much fanfare.
And for several reasons, Tuesday’s Apple event could be the most important in the history of the iPhone since the first big reveal in 2007. One easily could argue that Apple has a lot more riding on this launch than ever before.
Here’s what’s at stake for Apple on Tuesday:
Can Cook Match the Magic of Jobs?
With the departure of iconic executive and founder Steve Jobs, this is the first true test for new CEO Tim Cook. Yes, Jobs’ health problems have persisted for some time, and you can bet Cook knows Apple like the back of his hand by now. But Apple is part gadget maker and part cultural force. Don’t fool yourself into thinking the gadgets will speak for themselves — Tim Cook needs to step up and be the new public face of Apple.
Can Apple Go Low-Price and Protect Its Brand?
There are rumors that the iPhone might go populist for the first time ever — with an “entry-level” model priced at $99. The so-called “iPhone 4S” will have the same appearance but lower-priced internal parts — the biggest money-saver being just 8GB of onboard memory, if you believe the rumors. Will consumers who have held off on an iPhone sign up for a lower-priced model with less flash? If they do, it could be a huge windfall as Apple exerts its dominance at both the high end and low end of the market. But if it flops, more than dismal sales are on the line. Apple always has prided itself on a fantastic user experience — and if consumers start to get the impression cost is trumping quality, that’s a dangerous development.