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On Monday, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) held its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Chief executive officer Tim Cook took the helm for the first time since the death of former CEO and founder Steve Jobs in October. The company rolled out several new updates, but appeared to disappoint some analysts and investors that expected much more to be unveiled at the conference.
Cook was joined by world-wide marketing head Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall, senior vice president for iOS software. Schiller introduced updates to MacBook laptops, which included new Ivy Bridge processors from Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC). The MacBook Pro line also received a new Retina display with a screen resolution at 2880 x 1800, three million more pixels than a HDTV screen. Meanwhile, Forstall unveiled Apple’s new iOS 6, which will contain more than 200 new features.
Although many had hoped for more clarity on an Apple television set or a new iPhone, the focus was on laptops and new operating systems. Despite trading as high as $588.50 on Monday, shares closed in the red at $571.17 after the first day of the conference. Tusday, shares closed higher .87% on the digestive rebound. Today, Apple shares are higher 62 cents at $576.68 per share. Apple is often viewed as a hardware company, but its true appeal comes from software developments. In the bigger picture, the WWDC laid the foundation for Apple to expand its reach to consumers. Apple’s well publicized update to its laptop line not only beats Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) refresh by a few months, it connects users to more services than ever before.
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Apple’s new iOS 6, due out this fall, will provide a free and wireless upgrade to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It will contain a new “Maps” feature to compete with Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG). It will allow users to zoom, tilt and rotate in extreme detail. The improved visuals will come along with spoken turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic updates. FaceTime was well received at the conference as it will work over cellular networks, allowing you to set up both a phone number and an Apple ID, enabling calls to come through to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, etc. Apple also said it is doing the same with iMessage too.
The company demoed a new app called “Passbook.” Apple’s website explains, “Your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more are now all in one place. With Passbook, you can scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon. You can also see when your coupons expire, where your concert seats are, and the balance left on that all-important coffee bar card. Wake your iPhone or iPod touch, and passes appear on your Lock screen at the appropriate time and place — like when you reach the airport or walk into the store to redeem your gift card or coupon. And if your gate changes after you’ve checked in for your flight, Passbook will even alert you to make sure you’re not relaxing in the wrong terminal.”
Apple’s ecosystem is clearly expanding, which is a key element in maintaining its dominance in the tech sector. The company is even expanding its role in social-media by integrating iOS 6 with Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Yelp Inc. (NYSE:YELP) and OpenTable Inc. (NASDAQ:OPEN). Users will be able to post right from within apps. “Share a photo to Facebook right from Camera or Photos. Post your location right from Maps. Brag about a high score right from Game Center. If you have your hands full, just ask Siri to post for you. You need to sign in to Facebook only once, and you’ll be off and sharing. Never miss another birthday or get-together, since Facebook events are integrated into Calendar,” Apple explained. Apple is also working with BMW, GM (NYSE:GM), Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota (NYSE:TM), Chrysler and Honda (NYSE:HMC) for Siri support.
While the new hardware updates may not “wow” everyone, the software improvements continue to cement Apple deeper in the daily lives of its users. Over the coming years, it is almost impossible to imagine the amount of information the company will obtain about consumers, thus allowing it to better apply itself and gain market share.
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