Wedge Partners and Pacific Crest weighed in on the rumored iPhone 6 this week, with Wedge also offering speculation on other possible products like the iWatch and a bigger iPad as well as strategies for services at Apple.
Overall, the research note from Wedge Partners' Brian Blair, as posted by Barron's, was upbeat, stating that "Apple's next array of products" provide an "opportunity" for investors. Apple shares have an upside this year of more than 20 percent, he said.
Andy Hargreaves at Pacific Crest was also optimistic, citing the iPhone 6.
"Apple is likely to choose its opportunities and timing extraordinarily carefully and release new products or services only when it feels it has the best chance to succeed," Hargreaves said.
Here's what Blair and Hargreaves expect from Apple this year.
- Big-screen iPhone 6:
--Blair: Expects Apple to offer a 4.8-inch iPhone option this Fall to address a product gap. Strong adoption in Asia and at new carrier partner China Mobile.
--Hargreaves: Believes Apple will release a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 in the fall. Thinks Apple will charge $299 for the phone with contract (the iPhone 5S starts at $199). The relatively negative reception for the iPhone 5C shows that Apple's customers will spend more for a better product, he said. Hargreaves doesn't think Apple will bring out a 5.5-inch class phablet.
- iPad Convertible and/or new MacBook Air: "We believe Apple has been testing 12-inch panels for a potential new product. ... This product could be shown at WWDC," according to Blair. (Note: some analysts have referred to an analogous product as the "iPad Pro.")
- iWatch or iBand: Blair believes that the Asia supply chain is gearing up for a September release. "We expect Apple to release a wrist-worn computing device with a curved screen that will tie-in notifications, activity tracking, and fitness/health monitoring into a [new] platform."
- Mobile payment: Blair cites Tim Cook as saying that the mobile payments space is intriguing and cites several related patents filed by Apple. "This fall, we expect Touch ID to be built into all of the new iPhones and iPads. Either ahead of or shortly after the rollout of Touch ID across the next wave of iOS devices, we believe Apple will introduce its payment platform."
Blair also mentioned that Apple will 'ultimately" launch an iTV but didn't give any timeframe.
And he had some caveats about Apple too, including soft demand for the iPhone 5C (echoing Hargreaves) and a continued slowdown in the high-end smartphone market.
iPhone concept video courtesy of Sam Beckett.