Apple iPhone Dies: Live Blogs, @Twitter, Analysis, Stock Plunges Below $500

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Elvis Costello is musical guest, how sad

Apple iPhone 5S price points 16 GB for $199, and 32 GB for $299,  and 64 GB for $399. Does not seem like much of a change. Probably a good thing there is no price spike

"Now the NSA can get all of our finger prints, too"--Jon Ogg

New Touch ID from Apple, fingerprints instead of passwords

Observations as first hour nears a close: way too much talk about the camera feature, shares are slightly down, around $503. Phil Shiller has put on weight and needs to have a salad.

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As expected, every live blog about the event is exactly the same

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iPhone 5S will come in silver and gold .64-bit A7 chip, probably most people have no idea what that means

Small detail discussion is getting depressing,

5C has $99 for 16 GB and $199 for 32 GB.

As Apple iPhone 5C, with five colors, stock moving sideways just above $503

The presentation is dead twenty minutes in, Samsung execs have to be cheering

So, people can now search Twitter via Siri, whatever that means

Some guy named Craig Federighi hits the stage.

Cook talks about new iOS

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"iOS 7 will quickly become the world's most popular mobile operating system. It's packed with amazing new features."

Cook moves to another unimportant subject--Apple's retail efforts, New stores, bigger than before, but he has to worry about traffic if the new products fail

Early comments from around the Apple live blog world--Tim Cook goes on stage, on time. iTunes Festival, who cares? Lady Gaga, who cares? Apple promotional video, bloggers are desperate for something meaty

It's hard to pick which live blog to use. We'll go with the one from ancient and well regarded tech site CNET. Ready for Apple event live blog, reblogged here.

Walmart (WMT) just announced a smartphone trade-in program. A coincidence this comes ahead of a iPhone launch?  Not likely

Walmart said

Trading up to the newest smartphone just got easier and less expensive for the millions of smartphone users in the U.S.  Starting Sept. 21, consumers will be able to receive immediate credit towards the purchase of a new smartphone when they trade in their current smartphone at more than 3,600 participating Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations nationwide.

Walmart’s trade-in program offers an immediate credit from $50 to $300 for more than 100 smartphones. Examples of trade-in values for working, non-damaged smartphones include: $300 for an Apple iPhone 5, $175 for a Samsung Galaxy SIII and $52 for a Samsung Galaxy S2.

Watch for an announcement "out of left field". It is the only way that Tim Cook can impress Wall St. If he can pull it off, he will have kept a product away from ravenous press speculation for months.. Possibilities. Disclosure of the China Mobile deal to carry the iPhone 5C. China Mobile is the world's largest cellular carrier. A partnership would give Apple a huge upside in the People's Republic. Next on the list, a next generation version of the iPad. The problem with this would be that the improvement would likely be too modest. The game-changer? An iWatch with a feature set well beyond those introduced already in smart watches from other consumer electronics companies--like Samsung

Which Apple executives are likely to be onstage? Certainly the old guard, which also happens to be the longest surviving managers, Jobs disciples for years, if not decades. Among the group, Tim Cook, CEO, Jobs' creative twin, Jonathan Ive, who is senior vice president of design, and Philip Shiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing.

And hour before Apple management takes the stage, a number of media have announced they will actually have people in the audience, as if this gives them some advantage. Each live blog is likely  read like the next. Whatever happened to the ideal of pool reporting

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Apple's shares may be up 12% over the past month as Wall Street prepares for today's product announcements. However, since the open, shares are going nowhere, down 0.6% at $503.

Two hours ahead of the Apple product event, what is hardest to forecast is whether the public cares about a faster processor or better camera. These are supposed to be the improvements of the iPhone 5S over the iPhone 5. At some point the iPhone hits the "PC wall," where processor power and upgraded operating systems are beyond the level where most people care about them. Who needs a super-chip and an operating system that provides more than a basic platform? Certainly not most of the consuming public.

A few recent media observations from Twitter:

Fast Company ‏@FastCompany
Why The iPhone 5C Will Be In Color http://f-st.co/ArC9yYB

New York Post ‏@nypost
5 possible Apple surprises we could expect from today's announcement http://nyp.st/1fUOWJK

Yahoo Tech ‏@YahooTech
An AAPL investor's guide to today's big iPhone event. http://yhoo.it/15Nd3VS

At least several dozen "live blogs" are planned for the Apple Inc. (AAPL) product release event, which will happen at 10 a.m. PST. The better ones will be at WSJ.com, CNET, Business Insider, the Verge, Engaget and Apple Insider. The intrepid can use Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Windows 8 on PCs to open multiple tabs to watch all the live blogs at once. The core of the announcement is expected to be the launch of a new iPhone 5S, an upgrade of the current iPhone and an inexpensive iPhone 5C aimed at developing markets, especially China.

As a set of reference points, Apple's most recent earnings disappointed Wall Street for several reasons. One among them is the slowing growth of iPhone sales. Apple reported:

... financial results for its fiscal 2013 third quarter ended June 29, 2013. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $35.3 billion and quarterly net profit of $6.9 billion, or $7.47 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $35 billion and net profit of $8.8 billion, or $9.32 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 36.9 percent compared to 42.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 57 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

The Company sold 31.2 million iPhones, a record for the June quarter, compared to 26 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple also sold 14.6 million iPads during the quarter, compared to 17 million in the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 3.8 million Macs, compared to 4 million in the year-ago quarter.

Barron's has posted several analysts reports based on expert opinions about what the news will do to Apple shares, which trade at about $500, down from a 52-week high of over $700:

Nomura Equity Research's Stuart Jeffrey, who has a Neutral rating on the shares, and a $420 price point, is skeptical that a rumored lower-cost iPhone, what the Street and media have been calling the “iPhone 5C,” will do much to expand Apple's sales, given that he thinks the phone may not be priced low enough to make much of a dent in the middle of the pricing structure of smartphones, much the way Apple did not price as low as it could have when it came out other the iPad mini last year.

And:

FBN Securities' Shebly Seyrafi, who has a Outperform rating on Apple, takes the opposite view. Seyrafi, raising his target to $600 from $575, opines that a price for the iPhone 5C near $400 would be a big boost to Apple in the Chinese smartphone market, and materially contribute to the company's earnings.

Also Read: The Top Products in China

Apple's market share in China is poor. It is expected that Apple will set a deal with China Mobile Ltd. (CHL), the world's largest cellular service, will help the U.S. company add substantial sales and perhaps restart Apple's growth.

The tech press has posted several bits of speculation on exact what the two products will have as features. According to TechCrunch:

The 5S is supposed to have an improved camera, as well as improved internals and anew gold color option, while the iPhone 5C will reportedly feature a plastic backing with internals essentially unchanged from the iPhone 5

Engadget speculates:

The most notable change shown is of course, the home button, seemingly minus the usual squarish target and called the "Touch ID sensor". That is expected, considering repeated rumors including an apparent confirmation tonight from the Wall Street Journal, that Apple's next flagship phone will include a fingerprint sensor.

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