The day has finally come. On Tuesday, April 20, Apple will host its online "Spring Loaded" product launch event, the first in 2021.
The company's broadcast begins at 10 a.m. Cupertino, California time. The event, scheduled to last two hours (although product launches rarely extend this long), will be available for viewing on Apple's website.
The Apple Maven will start live blogging 15 minutes before the official start of the event, at 9:45 a.m. PST or 12:45 p.m. EST. I will cover the developments of the day from the point of view of Apple investors, always paying attention to the investment thesis and Apple stock price reactions.
Below is a quick recap of what to expect, plus what I believe will be the key topics of conversation moving Apple shares during Tuesday's trading session.
(To skip the preview, scroll straight down to the "Live Coverage Starts Here!" section for real time insights, starting at 9:45 a.m. PST or 12:45 p.m. EST).
Previewing "Spring Loaded" Event
I published my event preview on April 14, and recorded the brief video above. To briefly summarize the key points, here is what I think will be the most important topics of the day:
- iPad Pro highly likely: It is very much a consensus that Apple will use its Spring Loaded event primarily to unveil a new set of 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro devices. The most recent ones were launched this time last year. An upgrade to help Apple beat very tough comps in the back end of 2021 would be welcome.
- Secondary devices: it is also very possible that Apple will release a new set of complementary products, including the Apple Pencil, AirTags and AirPods. Of these three, the least likely but most impactful device would be the latter, in my view. Apple's high-growth wearables segment is key to the investment thesis, but the same can not be said of the Pencil and AirTags.
- Possibly a new M1 Mac? Apple is expected to fully refresh its lineup of Mac computers, following the development of the M1 chip. It is unclear, however, if the company will launch a new iMac Pro substitute or 16-inch MacBook Pro this time. Because of the size of the Mac segment, at roughly 10% of total company revenues, any news on this front would be relevant for Apple investors.
Live coverage starts here!
3:30 a.m. PST: Please stand by for Apple's Spring Loaded!
7:20 a.m. PST: Hello, everyone! We are still a couple of hours away from the start of the live blog coverage. But let me take a quick look at how Apple stock has been doing today:
7:21 a.m. PST: -0.2% is very much flattish compared to how the market in general has been doing so far today. No obvious sign of excitement or fear from Apple shareholders up to this point.
7:24 a.m. PST: Also, not a surprise, Apple has its "Be Right Back" screen up on the website. The whole online store seems to be impacted, which makes it hard to tell which products will be featured in today's event.
7:26 a.m. PST: Well, Apple will be right back, and so will I. I'll check back in soon!
8:47 a.m. PST: Another quick peek... Apple stock is now down -1.4% at roughly $133 per share, very much in line with the unwind in the Nasdaq over the past hour or so. I do not believe that any of this has to do with Apple's event. Maybe the market just needs a bit of a break.
8:48 a.m. PST: I will come back in less than one hour for our live blog coverage of "Spring Loaded". For now, I leave you with the following Twitter poll:
9:45 a.m. PST: It's time for Apple's Spring Loaded event! Welcome to the Apple Maven's live blog coverage.
9:45 a.m. PST: Quick technical comment... if you don't see my most recent post on your screen right away, refresh your page periodically. Sorry for any inconvenience.
9:47 a.m. PST: Want to listen to Apple's event stream while keeping an eye on the Apple Maven's coverage for investors? Visit Apple's website.
9:49 a.m. PST: So, it looks like Apple stock lost quite a bit of steam in the morning, but shares have started to rebound off the lows of the day. The stock is currently down about -0.9% this Tuesday.
9:52 a.m. PST: As a quick refresher, which you can also read further above, today should be all about the iPad Pro. Expect a brand-new 11- and 12.9-inch models to replace the March 2020 versions.
9:54 a.m. PST: The iPad represented almost 9% of Apple's total revenues in fiscal 2020, up from about 8% in the previous year.
9:56 a.m. PST: What makes the iPad particularly important now are the stay-at-home trends breathing life into this product category. The segment grew revenues at about 40% year-over-year in the last three quarters.
9:57 a.m. PST: Unless Apple releases a new M1-equipped Mac laptop today, the iPad will probably be the most relevant piece of news for investors, in my view. Still, be on the lookout for new AirTags and Apple Pencil, possibly.
9:59 a.m. PST: Ok... so with Apple stock down -1% to start, the event should kick off any second now!
10:00 a.m. PST: One question: will today's new products be available right away, or will the global component shortage delay the launch of any of them? A delay could be a bearish signal for the stock. Keep this in mind.
10:01 a.m. PST: It's on!!
10:02 a.m. PST: CEO Tim Cook starts with a message of optimism and sustainability.
10:05 a.m. PST: Interesting! The first few updates are about services, not products.
10:06 a.m. PST: Apple Card Family means that other members of a household, including teenagers, can share credit scores and access credit. The stock reacted positively for a moment.
10:06 a.m. PST: Quick update of Apple Podcast as well. I like to see the service segment leading this presentation to start.
10:07 a.m. PST: Next, iPhone 12 in purple! Looks neat, but probably not much of a game-changer for the stock.
10:08 a.m. PST: Funny enough, Apple stock soured a bit as soon as Tim Cook began talking about the iPhone. Maybe the market is interpreting this as a sign of fewer or less impactful product launches to come in the next hour.
10:09 a.m. PST: Apple stock is down -1.2% now, still off the lows of the session.
10:10 a.m. PST: AirTag announced. This was highly expected, along with the iPad Pro that is yet to come. Priced at $29, available end of April.
10:11 a.m. PST: Not going to lie, AirTag is a neat little product that speaks to device connectivity and Apple's product ecosystem. Very likely not an eye-catcher for investors, but an interesting piece of the puzzle.
10:12 a.m. PST: Apple TV is next!
10:16 a.m. PST: Apple TV 4K with A12 Bionic chip. It's all about better image quality and a better consumer experience.
10:17 a.m. PST: Apple does not break down revenues or profits within the Wearables and Home segment, where Apple TV belongs. But I do not believe the product to represent a large chunk of the pie, certainly not compared to the Apple Watch and AirPods.
10:18 a.m. PST: Back to the stock, Apple only reacted positively to the Apple Card Family announcement. Since then, modest losses.
10:19 a.m. PST: Here comes the Mac!
10:21 a.m. PST: Tim Cook might be about to announce Apple's newest M1-equipped personal computer. This is interesting!
10:22 a.m. PST: Here is the very colorful iMac!
10:24 a.m. PST: Very cool design... single sheet of glass on the front, all color on the back, very slim profile. "Make the computer disappear".
10:25 a.m. PST: So it looks like the iMac Pro is, indeed, extinct. The new lineup of the iMac and Apple's laptop portfolio replace it.
10:26 a.m. PST: The iMac is a bit larger on its face, but the screen is substantially larger at 24 inches, due to the more minimalist architecture design enabled by the M1 chip.
10:27 a.m. PST: Fun fact, Apple stock tripped upon the announcement of the iMac, and is now heading to session lows. Why? Good question.
10:29 a.m. PST: Two hypotheses: maybe (1) some still expected a new lineup of 16-inch laptops to be announced today instead, which I estimate to be substantially more meaningful to Apple's P&L, or (2) the iPad Pro will not be the star of today's event in the end (I still think it will be, by the way).
10:32 a.m. PST: There is no question that this new iMac is beautiful and powerful. The question is whether it matters enough to investors. I think it does, but only to the extent that the complete ecosystem is important to the investment thesis. Desktops are not a big item in Apple's overall product portfolio, from a revenue perspective.
10:37 a.m. PST: iMac starts at $1,299. But it will not be available until the second half of May! Component shortage, anyone?
10:40 a.m. PST: iPad Pro now equipped with M1! Faster performance, better graphics.
10:43 a.m. PST: Up to 2 Tb storage? Wow.
10:44 a.m. PST: The iPad finally helped to bump Apple stock price up a bit, although it is still down -1.5% for the day.
10:45 a.m. PST: iPad Pro will be 5G-capable. This could be a big deal, from a marketing and consumer demand perspective, especially at the tech-enthusiast end of the spectrum.
10:46 a.m. PST: I like what I see here. The iPad Pro seems upgraded enough (M1, 5G, ultra wide camera) to make it stand out during a year in which Apple's tablet segment will start facing tough comps in the June quarter.
10:47 a.m. PST: Next question in my mind: will the iPad Pro be available soon, or will there be launch delays?
10:49 a.m. PST: Liquid Retina XDR display on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro for serious users. Beautiful!
10:50 a.m. PST: Another question: how much will the highest-end iPad Pro cost? The previous version went as far up as $1,650 for the 1 Tb device. I expect a bump in price here.
10:52 a.m. PST: The M1 chip and other technological advances have allowed Apple to narrow the gap between their more mainstream and their pro products. This helps to explain the extinction of the Intel-powered iMac Pro. This is big.
10:56 a.m. PST: The event should be winding down now (although I am still awaiting prices and availability). But it looks like Apple went pedal-to-the-metal with several updates.
10:57 a.m. PST: iPad Pro will be available to order in late April, delivered second half of May. Just like the iMac, we are looking at some delays here, probably due to all the supply chain constraints this year. Still, nothing too disruptive, in my opinion.
10:59 a.m. PST: Apple stock finally reacted positively, and the iPad Pro should take the credit for modest bullishness. Shares still down -1.2% for the day, well off the session lows.
11:00 a.m. PST: The event is over!
11:02 a.m. PST: So, to summarize...
11:03 a.m. PST: When it comes to the breadth of the product refresh, Apple did not disappoint. We saw a new iPad Pro, new iMac, AirTags, Apple TV 4K, updates on Apple Card, Apple Podcast... did I forget something?
11:04 a.m. PST: Apple is going full throttle in 2021 with its product and service portfolio, betting both on single-product innovation and the power of the ecosystem. Much of what has been happening is a result of the new M1 chip and architecture, announced during last year's WWDC event.
11:05 a.m. PST: From a business fundamentals perspective, this is exciting times for Apple.
11:07 a.m. PST: The stock is a slightly different conversation. Apple shares have been rallying in the past few weeks, but they failed to climb on the day of the Spring Loaded event. To be fair, the whole equities market has been soft today.
11:09 a.m. PST: Looking past the intraday share price behavior, I think today's announcements were good for the Cupertino company. The product portfolio is looking as strong as ever, in my view. Bullishness reinforced.
11:11 a.m. PST: Have a wonderful day, everyone!