With Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares still trading mostly sideways following the January earnings plunge, investors continue to search for the next important catalyst that can help the company return to its former glory.
The usual suspects are all here. New iPad models could come as early as next month, but may also be pushed out to later this year, because the tablets were updated at the end of 2012. The next iPhone is potentially due out this summer, as Apple may be moving that product cycle up to fend off competitors. The inevitable dividend boost, or some other form of capital return, is very likely imminent, because it’s that time of year.
However, there’s likely another underappreciated catalyst on the horizon that most investors aren’t considering: iOS 7.
Lucky number 7
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hosts its Worldwide Developer, or WWDC, in June. That’s less than three months away, and the company should expectedly preview the next major version of its mobile operating system platform iOS. Arguably, this year’s iOS 7 release may prove to be one of the most important versions for Apple’s ecosystem in years. There’s one specific reason why this version will be so critical: Jony Ive.
Late last year, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) ousted former iOS chief Scott Forstall amid a rare executive shakeup at the highest echelons of the largest tech company. Forstall is the man who led iOS to become Apple’s dominant platform over the years, and it now powers over 70% of revenue. He’s also the executive who’s been widely criticized about Apple’s interface design direction. I’m not just referring to the skeuomorphism, but, rather, the overall interface.
Over the years, critics have continued to deride the iOS interface as dated, since the platform still looks mostly the same as when the original iPhone launched in 2007. There have been numerous changes over the years, but the core interface is largely unchanged. The toughest part for Apple investors? The critics are absolutely right.
Goodbye, first mover advantage
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has come an incredibly long way with interface since the early days of Android. Hiring Matias Duarte out of Palm before that company was swallowed by Hewlett-Packard company (NYSE:HPQ) was a big part of that, since he brought many innovative new interface designs to the platform. In characteristic Google fashion, the search giant experimented with numerous ideas with Android interface before getting to the clean look it now sports.