Apple Investors Eye iPhone 5 Upside

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) - Apple ( AAPL) investors are confident that the iPhone 5 will help the gadget maker (and its new CEO Tim Cook) shine through gloom enveloping much of the tech sector.

"I think that it will push the share price forward," Michael Yoshikami, CEO of YCMNET Advisors, told TheStreet. "I think that people will get that Apple is becoming a wireless company and that computers will be ancillary to the iPhone."

"Apple still has some growth ahead of it in the phone game and this release, like previous ones, should open even more doors for the company," added Chad Brand, president of Peridot Capital Management, and author of the Peridot Capitalist blog, in an email.

More specifically, Tuesday's announcements will bolster Apple's arsenal against the growing army of Google ( GOOG) Android phones, according to Scott Grannis, author of the Calafia Beach Pundit blog. "The new iPhone will allow Apple to maintain a significant share of the rapidly-growing smartphone market," he told TheStreet, in an email. "There is still no serious threat to the iPhone's dominant position."

The world's largest smartphone vendor in terms of revenue and profit, Apple is now the largest smartphone player by volume, according to research shop Strategy Analytics. Apple, along with its Android rival Samsung, recently jumped over long-time leader Nokia ( NOK) to take the top two market share spots in the smartphone sector.

While investors are convinced of iPhone momentum, opinions are divided on what Cook will actually launch on Tuesday.

"I am expecting that it's going to be a different phone; it's not going to be just an upgrade," Yoshikami told TheStreet, adding that this will likely be compatible with AT&T's ( T) 4G network. "I think it's going to have a curved back, will be thinner and will have a bigger screen - I think that everyone who owns an iPhone 4 is going to want to upgrade."

The earlier iPhone, according to Yoshikami, may even be marketed as a prepaid phone in emerging markets such as China.

There has been plenty of speculation about cheaper iPhones, aimed both at the U.S. and overseas. "I think there is opportunity for a lower end iPhone to bring in some new customers who are generally leery of their high price points," said Peridot's Brand. "A lower-end 4S-type phone could boost market share overseas in regions that are price sensitive."

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Ernie Varitimos, who runs the Apple Investor Web site, does not expect a scaled down phone based on the iPhone 4, but agrees that slim form factor and a bigger screen are likely amongst the new features.

"The iPhone will likely include multiple transceivers in it to accommodate more than one carrier and a new interface that extends iOS to include voice control," he told TheStreet. "Voice control has been one of the lagging features in the new iPhone - there will probably be emphasis on accessibility with the new interface, and it will eventually find its way into all iOS devices."

The rumor mill, inevitably, has been churning full speed about the iPhone 5. The sexier chatter has focused on Sprint ( S) joining AT&T and Verizon ( VZ) as iPhone partners, as well as talk of a "world phone" running on U.S. and European networks.

"The thing that has me most excited about the new iPhone is that it appears to be a global phone that uses a Qualcomm ( QCOM) Gobi chip that allows the phone to work with any cellular service anywhere," explained Grannis of Calafia Beach Pundit. "This is going to greatly expand the market for iPhones, and it makes any new iPhone much more versatile."

Any investors hoping to see a 4G LTE iPhone, however, may need to be patient and wait until next year.

Investors will also be monitoring the iPhone 5 launch to see how Cook measures up to his illustrious predecessor. Whereas Steve Jobs was a flashy, high-octane, front man, Cook is much quieter, less flamboyant presence.

"I think what you're probably going to see is Cook be more of a moderator -- I think that he will bring other people out to talk about the devices," said Yoshikami of YCMNET Advisors. "I don't think that he's going to try to replace Steve Jobs -- the launch will be more of a team effort with him as the leader."

Executives such as design guru Jony Ive could thus play a much bigger role in the iPhone 5 launch, highlighting Apple's deep bench strength.

Still, though, the main spotlight will be on the former Apple COO. "If Tim Cook exhibits some exceptional character or flair, it will be received positively, but there will likely be some backlash as people get nostalgic and compare him to Steve Jobs," explained Varitimos of Apple Investor. "This will subside as he finds his own pace and people accept his style."

Maybe, though, the focus should not be on Cook at all, according to Peridot's Brand. "The products are really what matters with Apple," he said. "Much has been made of the marketing genius of Jobs, but honestly, I think marketing is less important when the products are so strong."

"They essentially sell themselves, so I think Apple is fine with Tim Cook just getting the job done, regardless of whether he does it with less fanfare and attention than Jobs."

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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