On the heels of Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference last week, in which the Cupertino, Calif.-based company announced a host of new software developments but no new hardware products, consumers and investors are getting ready for the next round of new and improved Apple products set to hit stores in the fall. Apple has been rumored to be releasing its next version of the iPhone as early as August. It is also rumored to be launching its much-talked about iWatch in October, according to media reports that cite Japan's Nikkei news service.
Tech enthusiasts pointed to Apple's announcement of its new Health app last week as a likely precursor to the iWatch. The new Health app aims to gather information from a user's various health apps and fitness devices to provide a clear and current overview in one location, Apple said last week. And with the new iOS 8 software, the apps will be able to communicate with each other with a user's permission. For example, Nike's (NKE) apps using NikeFuel will be able to pull in other key HealthKit metrics such as sleep and nutrition to build a custom user profile and improve athletic performance, the company said.
Still getting consumers on board with wearables will be a challenge.
UBS analyst Steven Milunovich, who rates Apple a "buy," said the launch of the iWatch could go either way with consumers. "The iWatch might do better than the iPad due to a larger customer base at launch or worse because some might not want a wearable," Milunovich wrote in a research note on Monday.
That said, Milunovich hiked his per-share earnings estimates on the company by 18 cents for Apple's fiscal 2014 to $6.50 a share, by 34 cents to $7.22 in fiscal 2015, and by 24 cents for fiscal 2016 to $8.15.
The estimate changes were a combination of factors, including "increasing the contribution of the iPhone 6/6L and estimating their margins; adding the iWatch; reducing iPad shipments; and adjusting for the 7-for-1 stock split," effective on Monday, the analyst said.
"Including the iWatch in our model adds revenue of $6.5bn to F15E and $11bn to F16E, about four points of growth. The iWatch could be 30-40bps dilutive to overall margins, resulting in an EPS boost of $0.15 in F15E EPS and $0.30 to F16 estimate or 1-2 points of EPS growth. We expect a unit ramp similar to the iPad at 21mn units in F15 and36mn units in F16 at a $300 ASP," Milunovich wrote in the note.
Apple CEO Tim Cook previously said that tech companies have to convince consumers that wearable technology is worth the purchase. "The wrist is interesting," Cook said at 2013 tech conference, speaking with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. "You still have to convince people it is worth wearing."
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.