Apple (AAPL) investors and analysts have worried that the company might have lost its innovative edge with the death of Steve Jobs. But the Tuesday announcement of two new iPhone 6 models, Apple's new e-payment system and wristwatch must have reaffirmed at least some of the faithful: The stock saw a 3 percent to 4 percent lift even as the presentations were occurring, although that was down to flat in the last hour of trading.
The initial vote of confidence may portend a contrast to recent trading. Apple share prices have wobbled of late over concern that the tech giant might have lost its shine. Between the growing strength of Google's (GOOG) Android mobile platform and the theft of nude celebrity photographs from their iCloud accounts, the stock has been batted back and forth recently.
Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves suggested that "if the announced products and services do not suggest massive incremental profit opportunities, we are likely to downgrade our rating for AAPL."
The new products could be set to deliver, at least potentially. The iPhone 6 has a large-screen version that could beat back encroachments from the likes of Samsung. Documents recently uncovered as part of litigation with Samsung showed that Apple was concerned about phones with larger screens, saying "consumers want what we don't have."
The range of iPhone versions, as well as new features like a thinner profile and larger amounts of memory, should help Apple reclaim more of the smartphone market high end, which is a primary source of its revenue and profits.
The new Apple Watch addresses the wearables market with a sophisticated user interface and fitness features as well as robust computing. Key for investors is that it's the first truly new device introduced under Cook. That single move puts to rest the question of whether Apple could do something innovative without Jobs.
But what might really be exciting investors is Apple Pay. A payment system tied to the company's devices and ecosystem allows people to pay securely without entering card numbers or sharing card information with the more than 220,000 merchant locations Apple claims will accept the payment system.
Mobile payments have been an important goal for a wide array of companies, including Google, Visa (V), MasterCard (MC), PayPal (EBAY) and a number of major banks. What draws them is the opportunity for enormous amounts of profit by charging small amounts to process payments.
In this category, Apple is playing on the promises of convenience and safety, given the major data breaches that have been seen at the likes of Home Depot (HD), Target (TGT) and Supervalu (SVU). If it can hit that sweet spot with all of the customers it already has, Apple could be poised to become a dominant player in an important market.
Of course, that will all depend on execution, no slam dunk given that Apple has seen its own recent security problems. And that may be why shares didn't go higher.