Apple iPhone: What Investors Want

Story updated with Apple share price.

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- It's that time again. In less than two weeks Apple ( AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs will take the stage at the company's Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC), traditionally the launch pad for the latest, greatest iPhones.

With the world eagerly awaiting the successor to the iPhone 3GS, Apple investors have been telling TheStreet what they want to see at WWDC.
iPhone

"From what I have seen of the rumors, the new iPhone is likely to satisfy my basic wish list: longer battery life, better processor, better camera, flash and multi-tasking," wrote Apple investor Scott Grannis, in an email to TheSteet. " But to me, the biggest issue that remains unclear (though I hope it is cleared next week), is when and whether Apple will build a version of the iPhone that runs on CDMA networks."

Talk of a CDMA iPhone, which would allow the phone to work on other networks, has swirled around Apple seemingly forever. Earlier this year, shares of chipmaker and CDMA specialist Qualcomm ( QCOM) rose when The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was planning an iPhone capable of running on Verizon's ( VZ) CDMA network.

In the U.S. AT&T ( T) is still Apple's exclusive iPhone partner.

"My real dream would be that Apple incorporates Qualcomm's Gobi chip into the iPhone," explained Grannis, who writes the Calafia Beach Pundit blog. "That would allow the iPhone to operate on any and all networks around the world. This would be a major development."

As one reader wrote on the TheStreet's message board this week, "if Jobs says 'CDMA' the stock will skyrocket."
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RBC analyst Mike Abramsky has even forecast that Apple will sell 23 million of the redesigned iPhone this year. This figure includes the arrival of a CDMA-based iPhone, "but not necessarily at Verizon this year," said Abramsky.

Investors, understandably, are keen for any shred of information on this subject, although it remains to be seen whether Jobs addresses this issue at WWDC.

"I will be looking for any indication that they are going out on the CMDA side with Verizon," Michael Yoshikami, chief investment strategist at YCMNet, told TheStreet. "I think it's unlikely at this stage, but it will be interesting to see what Apple's comments on that side are."

Apple recently took the wraps off the iPhone 4.0, the latest version of its smartphone operating system, but the device will need more than just a cosmetic makeover to continue its phenomenal growth.

"My thought is that the iPhone is at a stage now where growth will primarily come from international agreements or distribution agreements with new carriers within the U.S.," wrote Apple investor Daniel Hung in an email to TheStreet. "That's the announcement I am waiting for."

Hung, who writes the Curious Investor blog, adds that OS and technology upgrades are nonetheless maintaining the iPhone's competitive edge. "As an investor, I'm simply happy to see that the device and the new OS continue to be best-in-class," he added.

The smartphone space, however, is becoming much busier, with Dell ( DELL) planning its entrance and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) recently grabbing Palm ( PALM) for $1.2 billion.

Google's ( GOOG) Android operating system is also said to be increasing the pressure on Apple, despite recent setbacks for the search giant's Nexus One phone.

Earlier this month, research firm NPD Group reported that for the first quarter, Android sales had ousted those of Apple's OS from the No. 2 position in smartphone market. Android accounted for 28% of sales during the first quarter of 2010, compared to Apple's 21%. Research In Motion ( RIMM), however, remains the U.S. smartphone leader, with 36% of sales.
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That said, Apple is hardly suffering in the smartphone stakes. During the tech giant's recent first-quarter results, iPhone shipments climbed a massive 100% compared to the same period last year, helping grow the company's overall revenue by more than 30% to $15.68 billion.

For investor Scott Grannis, though, the iPad is much more likely to move the Apple needle than any new iPhone.

"I don't see that the new iPhone will result in any changes to Apple's prospects that are not already anticipated by the market," he wrote to TheStreet. "What has the potential to surprise the market is a significant and ongoing increase in Apple's share of the computer market, and the iPad could be one of the factors that contribute to that."

A lost prototype of the new iPhone recently set the blogosphere alight and gave everyone a peek at the new model. Dubbed the 'HD,' the mysterious new iPhone is getting plenty of love.

YCMNet's Yoshikami expects that any new iPhone will be well-received. The investment strategist, however, feels that consumers will not get too carried away with what happens in San Francisco on June 7.

"I think there's going to be strong sales, but I don't think that you're going to see people line up around the block," he said. "I think we're getting to the point where this is evolutionary, not revolutionary."

Apple shares dipped $7.16, or 2.90%, to $239.60 on Tuesday, mirroring the broader retreat in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq fall 2.60%.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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