The Apple Event: What's Probably Coming
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The Apple media cycle is in full swing. Since the company alerted reporters last week to a "secretive" event coming up on Tuesday in Cupertino, California, there's been little else to discuss in the world of tech—except for some stolen celebrity photos that were reportedly taken from Apple's iCloud service. (Apple denied that its system was breached.)
Here's what we know, or think we might know, about next week's show.
An iPhone 6 is on the way. The biggest change from the previous generation of devices, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, will be a bigger screen. One version will have a 4.7-inch display (up from 4 inches for the iPhone 5), and Apple will also introduce the iPhone "6L," with a 5.5-inch screen, as a competitor to Samsung's Galaxy Note, Munster predicted.
From a financial standpoint, Stuart Jeffrey of Nomura Securities warns that the larger device could eat into sales of the iPad mini, which stands almost 8 inches tall. Numerous reports suggest that Apple will double the maximum amount of storage in the new phones to 128 gigabytes.
Apple's long-awaited entrance into the wearable computing market is likely upon us. The iWatch, or whatever name the device ends up with, has been a favorite topic of speculation for almost two years. The watch will give consumers access to Apple's iOS operating system on their wrists, taking on Android-powered smartwatches from Samsung and LG.
To help with the launch, Apple recently hired the sales director of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer. According to Munster, there's only a 50 percent chance of a smartwatch being announced on Tuesday, because Apple may prefer not to "dilute some of the attention from the core product."
Another feature of the iPhone 6 could be a chip for mobile payments based on near-field communication. That's the technology that Google backed, with too little fanfare to make it successful. If Apple can do it, the company would go from being a major force in digital payments to a viable player in the physical world.
Munster handicapped the odds of Apple announcing a payments feature at 70 percent. Analysts at Barclays view the treasure trove of data that Apple could gather in the payments space and then provide to customers as a big potential boon. Other analysts believe that payments will be a significant feature of Apple's watch.
"Ultimately, we believe the pivot toward software and services and the rise of a more comprehensive enterprise strategy could help Apple become much more than just a hardware company," Ben Reitzes and Darrin Peller of Barclays wrote.
As for what else is in the pipeline, Bloomberg News reported on Aug. 26, citing sources familiar with the matter, that Apple's suppliers are set to start building a new iPad with a 12.9-inch display, almost 3 inches taller than the flagship model. But don't expect CEO Tim Cook to talk about that just yet.
The big unveiling comes as many analysts are souring on the stock, either because of skepticism about the company's upcoming products, or because of fears that the recent hacking scandal could permanently damage the brand.
The stock dropped 4 percent earlier in the week after a Pacific Crest Securities analyst said investors should take profits ahead of the product launch. As of midmorning Friday, the stock was trading slightly less than $99 per share.
—By CNBC's Ari Levy. CNBC's Matt Hunter contributed to this report.