Barring Apple coming out with a delayed launch date for the next-generation iPhone, the guts of which are basically laid out on the Internet already, Apple's shares are probably not going to see the kinds of explosive activity you might expect around something as hyped as a massive iPhone revision.
Instead, Wall Street — which has spent months and months modeling Apple's future, reading the tea leaves, and trying to chase down as many leads as it can — is walking into the event on Tuesday with as much of a good idea as the average consumer that reads, say, TechCrunch. Since these expectations are set, there typically aren't any real surprises Apple could come out with that would force Wall Street to reassess the future of the company, and thus send the stock swinging upward or downward.
This is actually one of Apple's biggest challenges and, in recent quarters, is often cited on conference calls for the companies' quarterly earnings reports. Leaks for the next-generation iPhone are more prolific than ever. Given that the upcoming iPhone may end up having significant updates and changes, it would make sense that it would generate enough of a hype aura to get people to hold off on purchasing phones in the near term.
Still, just by reviewing what's happened in recent years, you don't see any significant stock swings following each event. Let's go back through some of the previous years, starting with the 2013 iPhone 5S announcement:
The iPhone 5S was an incremental update to the iPhone 5 and, as we've come to expect, we knew a lot about the phone before Tim Cook actually went on stage and kicked off the event to unveil the phone. Now, let's take a look at 2014, the last massive revision to the iPhone:
And then 2015, the incremental update to the iPhone 6 with the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus:
And, finally, here's last year's launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus:
The trend is normally pretty similar: there might be a small shift on the actual day of the event of a few percentage points, which is maybe followed by an extended euphoria period as Wall Street starts to come in with estimates of iPhone sales and their projections for the third quarter. Then, there's a bit of a hangover period as the company starts to march toward its earnings report, which is typically where the real fireworks happen.
This is more or less a similar sentiment to what Wall Street has, which is tracking the same reports and is looking at the same tea leaves the average consumer is in order to divine where to value Apple as it heads into the fourth quarter. But in this case, the surprise last quarter was that Apple forecast a quarter that was a bit above what everyone expected — and, hence, would theoretically deliver the new iPhone on time.
That's why the release date is going to be critical for the iPhone. Apple came out with some numbers that made Wall Street rethink what the company is going to do in the third quarter and the kind of results they expect to see. If that ends up not fitting the model, then they have to change the model, and then we'll see a shift.
That's now baked into the anticipation around the Apple event. New cameras are great, faster processors are also nice, but at this moment it seems there are few surprises that might come out about the actual guts of the device. Instead, most eyes will be on that date that Apple puts on screen for when consumers can finally begin ordering the new iPhone, and when it will begin shipping.
Apple had to constantly grapple with intense consumer demand for Plus models of the iPhone as consumer demand for larger phones seemed to far outstrip what everyone thought. Every week the shipments get pushed back is another week that consumers are going to have to wait, and it's another week that the price tag will seem even more ominous if it ends up higher than what they are typically paying when they purchase a new iPhone.
So, don't hold your breath for anything other than the final launch date (and maybe the price) of the iPhone X if you're looking for something insane to happen on Wall Street. See y'all on Tuesday!