Here are your Apple rumors and AAPL news items for today:
Showcase: With the kickoff of Apple’s (AAPL) annual Worldwide Developers Conference just hours of away, the New York Times says that the iPhone-maker will focus on a health-tracking app in iOS 8 and its entry into the smart-home market at this year’s event. Apple is expected to give a preview of iOS 8, which will launch later this year with the new iPhone 6. The health app will reportedly draw data from third-party fitness apps and monitoring devices. Eventually, it is expected to connect with a wearable device — mostly likely a smartwatch — that Apple is expected to launch later this year. Also on tap will be Apple’s effort to develop a standard to connect multiple devices to home automation software. Recent reports suggest that Apple will not be launching a full-scale home-automation platform, but rather a certification standard for giving separate devices remote control. Apple is also expected to focus on its new Mac operating system OS X 10.10 at the WWDC. Wild cards could include an appearance by recently-acquired Beats Electronics’ co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre and possible previews of upcoming Mac hardware. Most analysts are not expecting Apple to show off its much-rumored iWatch or iPhone 6. Nor is a refreshed Apple TV expected to be previewed.
Moving Up: Apple has risen to number five on Fortune’s annual Fortune 500 listing of the largest U.S. companies. The Fortune 500 is ranked by revenue. Last year, Apple ranked sixth on the list, that in turn was a big jump from 2012, when Apple ranked 17th. Fortune noted that last year Apple generated more than $170 billion in sales and $37 billion in profits. Despite the hefty earnings, Fortune pointed out that Apple’s annual profit was down 11.3% from the prior year and that “the company faces pressure in the smartphone business, as Android phones grow increasingly dominant.” Topping this year’s list was mega-retailer Walmart (WMT), with revenue of more than $476 billion. ExxonMobil (XOM) came in second with revenue of $407 billion, followed by Chevron (CVX) with revenue of $220 billion and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) with revenue of $182 billion.
Gone: Friday marked the last day for Apple’s long-time VP of Worldwide Corporate Communications, Re/code notes. After 18 years managing Apple’s public pronouncements, and crafting an aura of intense secrecy around the Mac and iPhone-maker, Katie Cotton finally stepped down. Cotton earned a reputation among tech journalists for carefully controlling the buzz surrounding new Apple products and acting as gatekeeper to top Apple brass. Cotton’s retirement was announced last month, but Apple did not disclose exactly when her last day would be. Writing at Re/Code Kara Swisher noted that Cotton once said: “I am not here to make friends with reporters, I am here to put a light on and sell Apple products.” Her occasionally tough line with journalists earned her some less than flattering nicknames among reporters, but few doubt the major role she played in crafting Apple’s reputation for technology wizardry.
For more about the company, check out our previous Apple Rumors stories.