Showtime for Apple: Big phones, smart watches and high expectations

Showtime for Apple: Big phones, smart watches and high expectations

SAN FRANCISCO - It has been four years since Apple Inc introduced a completely new gadget and the pressure is on for the world's largest tech company to wow at its "special event" in Cupertino, California, on Tuesday.

Apple has fed the high expectations, with promises by executives that the company's best product pipeline in 25 years is being readied inside its secretive facilities. That's a high bar for a company whose hits include the modern, graphic-based personal computer, the smartphone, the iPod and the tablet PC.

Those now ubiquitous gadgets were created under the innovative and famously meticulous eye of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011. When Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook takes the stage on Tuesday, technology aficionados, investors and rivals will be watching closely to see whether Jobs' handpicked successor inherited the magic touch or whether Apple's winning streak is coming to an end.

"We think Apple's pipeline is finally going to satisfy those who have wondered if the company has any new products. The stock price has been rallying as investors are beginning to believe that Tim Cook all along was telling the truth that there is an incredible pipeline of products," said Michael Yoshikami, CEO of Destination Wealth Management.

In the last five years, the period beginning July 1 has been the most fruitful for holders of Apple shares, with an average price gain of about 22.5 per cent, compared with 11 per cent gains seen in the first half of the last five years.

Below are some of the key products and features to look out for at Apple's big event on Tuesday:

iWatch?: Rumours of an Apple smartwatch go back several years, but Tuesday may finally be showtime. The watch, which will reportedly have a flexible screen and come in two sizes, will track its wearer's health and fitness, double as an electronic wallet and of course, display messages.

The watch is not likely to go on sale until sometime in 2015 and Apple may not even reveal its price on Tuesday. But with rivals such as Google Inc and Samsung Electronics Co already entering the smartwatch market, tech-watchers are anxious for Apple to show its cards. "The market has been waiting for Apple's product as the real category-defining product," said FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyfari.

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