We’re just weeks from Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) annual developer conference — WWDC 2017. And while the event is primarily aimed at software developers, the company has used the keynote in previous years to introduce new hardware. It looks like this could be a big year in that respect. AAPL analysts are increasing convinced that Apple will unveil two key new products on June 5: a Siri speaker and an all-new iPad Pro.
The Case for a Siri Speaker at WWDC 2017
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) launched the smart speaker craze with the Amazon Echo in 2015. In the short time since, the Echo has brought Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant into millions of homes. Over 10,000 third party “skills” have vaulted Amazon into a smart home leadership position. The success of the Amazon Echo brought competition from Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) in the form of Google Home and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is showing off Cortana in third-party smart speakers.
In recent weeks, Amazon has announced new Echo models that expand into video and touchscreen capabilities, along with voice calling. Stats show the company is dominating the smart speaker market.
Apple has been rumored to be working on a Siri speaker for months and now is the right time for it to make an appearance.
AAPL stock has had several years to study what works and what doesn’t with the Amazon Echo. The company has its HomeKit smart home toolkit to work with, and an unrivalled relationship with developers through its App Store. Apple also owns one of the most popular premium audio brands in the world in Beats.
With the 10th anniversary iPhone 8 expected to dominate its fall release schedule, WWDC 2017 seems like the perfect opportunity to launch that Siri speaker. The timing takes advantage of the developers on hand at the event, getting them working on “skills” for the Apple smart speaker. The announcement of a Siri speaker on June 5 would also take some of the wind out of Amazon’s Echo Show and Echo Look just as they launch (Echo Show goes on sale two weeks after WWDC).
According to MacRumors, noted Apple analyst, KGI Security’s Ming-Chi Kuo has the odds at greater than 50% AAPL will announce the Siri speaker at WWDC 2017.
New iPad Pro as Well
Kuo thinks it’s even more likely AAPL will use the event to unveil a new iPad Pro. Apple has reportedly been working on a new model that uses greatly reduced bezels — expected to be a key feature of the iPhone 8 — to pack a 10.5-inch display into a tablet the size of the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
This would not only provide a premium upgrade path to consumers who don’t want to carry around a huge iPad Pro, it would be more appealing to the enterprise customers AAPL is increasingly targeting for iPad sales. The 10.5-inch display would be more useful, while keeping the new iPad Pro much more portable than competition like Microsoft’s Surface Pro.
Ming-Chi Kuo thinks there’s a greater than 70% chance AAPL will show off this new iPad Pro at WWDC 2017.
Previous WWDC keynotes have seen Apple launch key products like the iPhone 4 (2010), MacBook Pro with Retina Display (2012) and a new Mac Pro (2013). It has been a few years since new hardware was announced at the conference, but it looks like the stars are aligning for WWDC 2017 to have a bumper crop, with the possibility of an all-new iPad Pro and the Siri speaker making an appearance.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.