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Saturday 1 October 2016

New iPhone, iPad and Apple TV fail to impress investors

Julia Love

Published 10/09/2015 | 08:15

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6sPlus during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, September 9, 2015. Reuters/Beck Diefenbach
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6sPlus during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, September 9, 2015. Reuters/Beck Diefenbach

Apple unveiled a new TV set top box that responds to voice commands and fresh iPhones that sense the pressure of a finger tap, changes which underwhelmed many social media commenters and investors.

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The new 6S and 6S Plus versions of the iPhone, Apple's biggest money maker, are the same size as the previous versions but come with a better camera, faster chips, new colors and the force-sensitive "3D Touch".

Speaking before thousands of analysts, journalists and frequently cheering Apple employees, Chief Executive Tim Cook also brought on stage an executive from onetime archrival Microsoft to illustrate the business-friendly credentials of a big new iPad, the Pro.

Apple shares fell 1.9 percent to $110.15 by the close, replicating the recent history of such rollouts but also reflecting the lack of any transformative products that could jumpstart the company's sales ahead of the crucial holiday season.

Apple shares have lost an average of 0.4 percent on the day of iPhone announcements over the past three years, according to BTIG Research data.

"People love to hate Apple announcements because the expectations are so high and they can never clear that bar," said Kevin Landis, portfolio manager of the $111 million Firsthand Technology Opportunities fund, which has Apple as its second-largest position.

Apple TV demonstrations showed tricks to make viewing easier: digital assistant Siri, which is behind the voice control, can rewind a video for 15 seconds and turn on subtitles, when a viewer asks something like "What did she say"?

"We've been working really hard, and really long," on TV, Cook said, emphasizing the word 'long' in a nod to the time it has taken the company to produce an ambitious TV product.

The new set-top box will include an app store and let developers create new software for Apple TV, including video games.

The new iPhones come a year after Apple rolled out iPhones with larger screens, touching off a frenzy of sales that saw revenue in the most recent quarter increase 32.5 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

"It's getting harder and harder for Apple to compete against itself," said analyst Bob O'Donnell of TECHnalysis Research. Apple shares are up about 12 percent over the last year, although they are down about 14 percent in the last three months.

Fortunately for Apple, most consumers buy smartphones under a two-year upgrade cycle, meaning the company will still likely scoop up a lot of sales, said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

"The key point of reference is not how the new phone compares to the iPhone 6, it's how it compares to the iPhone 5s," he said.

Reuters

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