Apple's iPhone May Be a Dead Ringer

The company continues to accept expectation-based praise for its unseen technology.
Author:
Publish date:

Better than sex? Akin to the landing on Normandy that freed an enslaved continent? There is drool that has to be wiped from the chins of investors?!

Good Lord. Let The Business Press Maven catch his breath before he tells you what nearly took hold of his senses:

Stock prices are the precise numerical manifestation of past fact, which can be quantified, and expectations for the future, which can't be precisely valued. That's why savvy investors always want to keep an eye on how the excitable little boys and girls of the business media are portraying expectations and, in getting carried away themselves (you know how the little devils tend to get), pushing them even higher.

This morning, then, provides a great opportunity to take the business media's temperature on

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

. That is because today, the company begins its "sold out" Worldwide Developers Conference amid super heavy rumors that it will unfurl the next generation of iPhone.

As The Business Press Maven has

noted before

, Steve Jobs has always played the business media like a fiddle, acting all conservative about financial projections, while getting the business media skippy in the gut with his promotional ability when it comes to unveiling new products. Suffice it to say they were in a lather this morning.

The danger, of course, is that they eventually get too excited before a product's formal introduction and there is a letdown for the investor to deal with. This is, as I noted, what happened back in January during

Macworld 2008

. Back then, unless an iPhone that could cure seven types of cancers came out, there was bound to be disappointment. And initially, there was quite a bit.

And so where do investors, who live and die by expectations, stand today? Well, beware and be aware.

Yahoo!'s Tech Ticker ran this randy headline:

3G iPhone: Will It Be Better Than Sex?

The San Francisco Chronicle

got historically breathless in its lead with this: "It's D-Day for the new iPhone." And our own TheStreet.com references not World War II but salivary glands: "Apple Investors Drool as New iPhone Nears."

Uh, actually the stock has not budged in the past month, so maybe it's just the business media who is drooling at the prospect of playing with the new iPhone at the sold out conference and writing about a product they understand and know readers will enjoy.

Though no one can be certain what Jobs has up his sleeve,

Fortune

is all but certain: The new iPhone is going to be the apple of corporate America's eye. Here's its certain headline: "New iPhone: Cool corporate tool"Followed by the all-knowing lead: "With Apple chief Steve Jobs set to lift the curtain on the next-generation iPhone Monday, the new fun-loving iPhone wants to be all business for any hard-charging gadget shoppers looking for a BlackBerry alternative."

Then we get a welcome turn toward the uncertain: "The problem Apple faces is that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIMM) is a tough player to dislodge."

Alas, the very next sentence puts that uncertainty to bed with a confident "But Apple (AAPL) is game."

Well, the game is on, but it's a game of expectations that investors have to be wary of -- especially in the case of Apple, which toys with expectations like few others. There are high expectations at play here, but there are also serious issues of pricing, technological competence, competition and more. They will all be set against these super-high expectation.

Look: Apple is a terrific company, one of the best ever. But when the business media is breaking out the bubbly before Apple has broken out the new product, just beware. And be aware.

At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page. For his "Business Press Maven? column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Fuchs appreciates your feedback;

click here

to send him an email.