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Apple's New Gadgets Thrill and Disappoint

Kevin Cook

Once again, I watched the live CNET video blog on Apple's big media event, which not-so-coincidentally was on the same day that Microsoft is launching its new tablet, Surface.

Here were a few highlights of today's presentation by CEO Tim Cook and marketing chief Phil Schiller...

5 million iPhone 5s sold in the opening weekend. Fastest-selling phone in history.

3 million new iPod Touches sold

New 13" MacBook Pro is lighter, thinner, faster and has Retina display for $1,699

iBooks now integrated with iCloud

New iMac Desktop is 80% thinner, replaces optical drive with hard drive and comes in 21.5" and 27" sizes for $1,299 and $1,799

100 million iPads sold

More iPads sold in June quarter than all competitors' entire PC lines (not combined)

2,500 US schools using iBooks textbooks

94% of Fortune 500 testing or deploying iPad usage

New 4th Gen iPad has 2X faster Apple chip (A6X) for same price as last iPad, $499

New iPad Mini has 7.9 inch screen, 16G memory, and offers LTE cellular capability, starting at $329 (w/ numerous configuration options, upgrades, and price points)

3 Battles Apple Could Lose, Starting Today

There were many things that grabbed the attention of tech critics and Apple customers today, but I want to highlight 3 that hinge on competition from Google and Microsoft.

1) The new 4th-gen iPad comes only six months after the previous model. Many customers on the blogs seem annoyed. While a natural consumer reaction, Is this justified? Should the company hold back on innovation so people don't have that unique sense of buyer's remorse that comes from disruptive technologies? Or, are most people getting used to it by now? 

2) Tim Cook made a point of noting the compatibility of Apple Desktop OS and Mobile OS. The tech geeks on CNET (actually a great group to listen to for these events) saw this as a direct shot addressing the competition, namely Microsoft and their new Surface tablet. By the end of the event, all of them felt that Apple offered few compelling reasons for consumers to ignore the Surface, given the comparable pricing.

3) The new iPad Mini is about $80 more than the comparable Google Nexus. Is that a good price point? Will it create Apple product cannibalization nestled between glorified iPods (the Touch) and the 4th gen iPad? Or, will it simply get ignored and fail to meet always-lofty expectations?

What did investors think?

In the hour or so before the start of the event, AAPL shares rallied hard from the lows at $622 up above $630, even taking a few stabs at yesterday's close ($634) without success.

But when the slide of pricing schemes for the iPad Mini were shown, the stock dropped hard and fast, trading from above $629 down to $622 in only 3 minutes on over 800,000 shares. Then it fell to $616 a few minutes later on over 1 million shares.

Clearly, investors didn't like the iPad Mini pricing either.

What do you think about the 3 "battles" I highlighted above?

And is there anything else that stands out to you about Apple's continued product innovation?


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