Apple's latest product event isn't causing a big stir
It wouldn't be an Apple event without some hoopla. But the company's upcoming product announcement on Tuesday (NZ time) doesn't seem to be stirring much passion.
Apple has invited tech reporters and analysts to its Silicon Valley headquarters, where chief executive Tim Cook is expected to unveil some new additions to its current family of iPhone and iPad devices.
So far, however, there have been no hints of any dramatic announcements, such as last year's Apple Watch debut, or major initiatives like the company's long-rumoured but yet-to-materialise streaming TV service.
Apple could use a shot in the arm. IPhone sales are levelling off, after surging last year to record levels that made Apple the world's biggest company by stock market value.
And many are wondering if Cook can come up with another big hit.
And the very next day, Apple is set to square off in court against the FBI over its demand that the company help it unlock a mass shooter's encrypted iPhone.
While that dispute has drawn heated rhetoric, most Apple watchers say it's unlikely to play a major role at Monday's product launch.
"There's been a lot less noise'' around the event, compared with similar gatherings in the past, said Gartner tech analyst Brian Blau.
Even so, he cautioned against ruling out any surprises. "Apple is such a secretive company. They do keep things under wraps as long as possible.''
While Apple has been mum about its plans, several analysts expect the company will introduce an upgrade to its older, four-inch iPhone 5S - aimed at consumers who haven't sprung for the bigger-screen iPhone 6 models that Apple introduced two years ago.
Analysts and tech blogs say Apple also may unveil a new model of the iPad Pro, which the company introduced last year with several features - like a detachable keyboard and stylus - designed for business users.
A four-inch iPhone isn't likely to see the kind of blockbuster demand that Apple enjoyed with its large-screen iPhone 6 and 6S models, according to several financial analysts, but it could help Apple boost overall sales and draw some additional users into the market for Apple's online services.
"We think the numbers will be modest,'' said RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani.
So does Steven Milunovich of UBS, who believes Apple could sell 12 million of the new phones this year.
By comparison, Milunovich estimates Apple has sold 265 million of the larger iPhone 6 models over the last two years.