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What to Expect From Apple at WWDC

Stocks in this article: AAPL EBAY GOOG

Updated from 7:33 a.m. to include thoughts from Capital Advisors.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) is hosting its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) next week/this week, and while the event has segued to some bombshells in the past, including the iPhone in 2007, it's largely been run of the mill in recent years. That may be about to change, though.

"My take is that with the dearth of hardware announced this spring, a publicly streamed keynote and the 7-1 stock split happening soon thereafter, we're in for some BIG announcements," said John Martellaro of The Mac Observer website, and a former Apple executive.

This year's WWDC, held in the Moscone Center West in San Francisco, as it is most every year, will largely focus on updates to iOS 8, as well as Mac OS X. Given all the talk of a drastic redesign in user interface to match that of iOS 7, OS X, for which there is not a code name yet, may get the majority of the attention this year. It's expected that iOS 8 as well as Mac OS X will be shown in beta to developers, than released later to the public in the early fall, ahead of product launches, including a new iPhone and new Macs, as it has been in previous years.

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Last year, iOS 7 received a major redesign, giving a more flat look, as opposed to the skeuomorphism (looking like real world objects) design of previous versions of iOS, something former CEO Steven P. Jobs was in favor of.

Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope, who raised his price target on Apple to $720, also believes the event will center around software, with few actual hardware announcements. "As for the WWDC event itself, we believe the event will be centered on Mac and iOS software refreshes, iOS platform enhancements, with some minor Mac refreshes being the
only hardware-centered announcements," Shope wrote in a research note. "More specifically, we believe it is likely that we will see (1) iOS 8 preview and beta release; (2) the next version of OS X for the Mac, with a beta release; (3) Internet of Things sub-platforms (likely related to personal health and the connected home); (4) standard Mac refreshes; and (5) a more detailed discussion of the recent Beats acquisition."

Though Apple still sells millions of Macs each quarter, having sold 4.1 million Macs, generating $5.5 billion in revenue, the larger draw for developers, investors and the media is iOS, given the larger install base for both iPhones and iPads, as well as future devices which may use iOS.

Recent speculation has surrounded Apple moving into wearable technology, with a device known as the iWatch, being one area where Apple does not currently participate. The rumored device is not set until at least the third quarter (most likely a Sept. release), so wearable technology market and its players have some time to figure it out before Apple comes in and dominates, just as it did with the iPod, iPhone and iPads.

While iOS 8 and Mac OS X may be the big software initiatives talked about, there's likely to be a slew of other major announcements, including some potential hardware announcements and refreshes.

Capital Advisors Managing Director Channing Smith is expecting big things from WWDC. "Investor expectations are riding high going into WWDC as Apple executives (Eddy Cue & Tim Cook) recently hinted that the company was on the cusp of the best product pipeline in years," Smith said via email. "The expectations from Apple followers range from more details on the strategy surrounding Beats, introductions of wearable technology (fitness tracking, iWatch), home automation initiatives, further inroads into the mobile payment arena and improvements on existing products with a larger screen iPhone."

The keynote address will stream on June 2 at 1 PM ET, something Apple generally reserves for special events, including new product announcements. "Watch streaming video from this special event and learn more about our exciting announcements," the company said on its Web site earlier this week.

Here's what to expect from WWDC, which kicks off on Monday.

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