iPhone 5 announcement: 3 important things to watch

Reported by Motley Fool Staff
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
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We’re just hours away now. Tonight, the world will be watching as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) announces the iPhone 5. Swept away amid the headlines may be some interesting tidbits to keep track of. Here’s what keen investors should keep an eye out for, and what I’ll be taking notes on.

1. Fun facts and stats
Apple likes to take these opportunities to tout figures and stats that only Apple knows, such as the digits it gave at its Worldwide Developers Conference. Those included the fact that Apple now has 400 million active iTunes accounts, complete with credit cards just a tap away, cuing speculation about when Apple would launch a mobile payments service to challenge Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Wallet.

Then there was the revelation that it had reached a cumulative developer payout of US$5 billion in June. That figure was just US$4 billion in January, and subsequently reached US$5.5 billion in July. This metric is meaningful on several levels, including a monetary one. Since the iPhone maker keeps a 30% cut while passing along the remaining 70% to developers, that means Apple has brought in US$2.35 billion in revenue from App Store purchases since 2008.

Any stats Apple chooses to share might even hint at how it will fare this quarter. For example, if the company decides to tell us its running tally of cumulative iPhone units sold to date, we could cross-reference that with the fact that it had sold 244.2 million iPhones through last quarter, and the difference would be this quarter’s sales to date.

If Apple discloses lifetime iOS devices sold, which it likes to do on conference calls, we could similarly back into iPod touch cumulative unit sales, which Apple doesn’t disclose specifically. There are all sorts of numbers games we can play. It just depends on what numbers Apple might give investors tonight.

2. Carrier partnerships
The iPhone is currently distributed on more than 250 wireless carriers in more than 100 countries. That’s only half of the roughly 500 wireless carriers there are in the world, so there are plenty of additional partnerships to be inked and plenty more iPhones to sell abroad. However, let’s be clear about something: CFO Peter Oppenheimer has already said that Apple doesn’t “expect to add any significant new country or carrier additions in the September quarter,” so don’t expect any official announcements.

That being said, what I’ll be looking for are hints of partnerships on the horizon. The most significant of which would be China Mobile (NYSE: CHL), the largest carrier in the world with 688 million mobile subscribers at last count. This glaring carrier omission to date has been explained by unique homegrown cellular standards that China Mobile uses, TD-SCDMA for 3G and TD-LTE for 4G.

The Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) 28-nanometer baseband processor that’s expected inside the iPhone 5 supports both of these standards, which would lay the technical foundation for a future partnership with China Mobile.

Of course, Apple would never say something like: “The iPhone 5! With Qualcomm’s new 28-nanometer baseband! China Mobile, here we come!” But it might highlight its world-mode compatibilities with different global standards, a selling point for business travellers, for example.

Apple won’t serve these carrier hints up on a silver iPlatter, if at all, so you’ll need to be paying close attention.

3. The Cook & Schiller Show
When it comes to presentation showmanship, Steve Jobs had no match. Instead, CEO Tim Cook and marketing chief Phil Schiller have mostly combined their powers to do the best they can to get consumers riled up to snap up the new model.

Last year’s iPhone 4S unveiling was Cook’s first product announcement after officially becoming CEO, and also came the day before Steve Jobs’ death. For these reasons, iPhone announcements may carry certain sentimentalities for him, for better or for worse.

Schiller now does the majority of the presenting, touting headline features and occupying the majority of the stage time. He has become Apple’s new chief showman, while soft-spoken Cook tends to shy away from the spotlight whenever possible (hard to do when you’re CEO of the largest company on Earth).

Tomorrow, Cook will probably do some introductions, boast some figures, then hand it off to Schiller. These two are set to be Apple’s most prominent public figures in the coming years, so you better know who they are.

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A version of this article, written by Evan Niu, originally appeared on fool.com

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