Apple puts on first in-person event since start of pandemic
Apple is expected to unveil the 14th series of its iconic and ubiquitous iPhone on Wednesday at its first in-person product launch event since before the coronavirus pandemic began.
Industry watchers also hope to see the new generations of Apple watches, AirPods and other updated versions of its hardware.
In addition to high tech advances, there is likely to be increased attention to prices this year with inflation hovering near four-decade highs. Even before the pandemic when the economy was booming, people were balking at the substantial price tags for smartphones with upgrades that don't win over owners of recent models.
In April of 2020, just as the pandemic was crushing the U.S. economy, Apple released the second-generation iPhone SE with a price tag as low as $399, a 40% markdown from the most affordable iPhone 11 unveiled last year.
Now, with 9% inflation battering Americans' household budgets, analysts wonder if consumers won't wait a little longer to upgrade phones, or pass on the earphones that can cost as much as filling up their gas tanks each month.
"Pricing is a key watch-point in a tough macro which comprises inflationary pressures and pull back in consumer spending, but we believe it matters more for wearables which are considered more discretionary purchases relative to iPhone by consumers," JPMorgan analysts wrote.
Morgan Stanley analyst Erik Woodring predicted that in addition to the iPhone 14 family of smartphones, the company would release three new Apple watch models and possibly updates to Airpods, HomePod mini and Apple TV.
Analysts at JPMorgan expect a major screen size update to the iPhone mini and a new, more rugged Apple Watch Pro as well as enhanced sound quality on the AirPods pro.
The event will be streamed from Apple's Cupertino, California headquarters starting at 10 a.m. local time.
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