CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- These are strange times for Apple ( APPL) investors. With large-cap tech stocks falling out of favor, shares of the iconic iPhone maker have gained less than 4% in 2011, the phenomenal appreciation of recent years finally screeching to a halt.

Stranger still, Apple looks unlikely to launch new hardware at its Worldwide Developers' Conference (WWDC), which kicks off in San Francisco next week. WWDC has traditionally been the launch pad for Apple's latest, greatest iPhones, and, as such, has become one of the most eagerly-anticipated events on the tech calendar.

Apple has instead promised "to unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS," fueling expectations that it is jumping onto the infinitely less sexy cloud bandwagon. As for the shiny new iPhone, gadget heads may have to wait until sometime later this year.

A delay, though, would hardly be the end of world, say Apple investors. "It's pretty much a non-event for a longer-term investor like myself," explained Chad Brand, president and founder of Peridot Capital Management. "I have never played Apple for a trade based on a single product release date or any short-term event -- with the multiple on the stock where it is, impressive earnings growth year-to-year will suffice in getting the share price up again."

Michael Yoshikami, CEO and founder of YCMNET Advisors, which has a small position in Apple, says that a delayed iPhone launch could be a shrewd strategic move, giving the Verizon ( VZ) iPhone a little more time in the consumer spotlight.

"It makes sense to roll out a new phone later because of the recent rollout of the Verizon handset," he told TheStreet. "Additionally, there are other products likely to be rolled out which will take place in this announcement cycle - the delay in a new iPhone is not necessarily a negative."

There has, for example, been a lot of chatter that Apple is planning to launch a cloud-based version of iTunes at WWDC, which could eventually morph into a fully-fledged streaming media platform for iOS devices.

"While investors have become accustomed to product announcements related to hardware at these events, I suspect that the cloud-based music service will more than satisfy those clamoring for new Apple products and services," explained Yoshikami, in an email to TheStreet.

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