Analyst: WWDC Announcements Should've Included Hardware

Apple's two hour keynote event to kick off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference Monday morning was filled with details about OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, and developer tools, but it didn't include any new hardware announcements, and Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um says that was a disappointment.

No WWDC hardware announcement disappoints Wells Fargo's Maynard UmNo WWDC hardware announcement disappoints Wells Fargo's Maynard Um

In a note to investors, Mr. Um said,

Relative to the expectations going into WWDC, the event, to us, was a slight disappointment given the lack of any new hardware announcements and a cursory address of the home automation capabilities (there was much more media attention relative to the short portion of presentation dedicated to this). The most important announcement, in our opinion, was Apple's HealthKit/health app.

HealthKit is the new platform Apple unveiled that lets health and fitness tracking and monitoring devices aggregate the data the collect into Apple's new Health app. The app will give users a single place to view all of the information their various tracking devices collect, and can transmit information to their doctors for review. Both Nike and the Mayo Clinic are supporting HealthKit, and other companies will no doubt follow suit.

The lack of hardware announcements shouldn't have been a surprise to Mr. Um considering Apple rarely uses WWDC to unveil big device updates or new products. Instead, Apple usually focuses on major operating system updates, just as it did today.

Mr. Um wasn't overly impressed with Apple's new HomeKit platform that uses a single app to control supported smart devices from several third-party companies. The advantage of HomeKit is that it uses a single app to control devices like smart lightbulbs and outlets, and can trigger actions, such as opening a garage door, based on a user's proximity.

"While we applaud the open ecosystem approach, we believe there are still some limitations to widespread adoption given the high cost of products (Hue bulbs: $59.97/each; Nest Thermostat: $249/each), which we believe doesn't do much to drive incremental developed market penetration today," Mr. Um said.

Despite his disappointment, Mr. Um did see some things in the keynote that he liked. Tighter integration between iOS and OS X, for example were winners, as was the improved Spotlight search feature and the introduction of iCloud Drive and it's lower storage prices. iCloud users will get 5GB of storage for fee, while 20GB will cost US$0.99 a month, and 200GB will cost $3.99 a month.

HealthKit's ability to log and process information from multiple health and fitness monitoring devices was big for him, too, although that excitement came in part from his feeling that Apple plans to monetize the health information it collects from users -- a notion that seems to go against Apple's policy of avoiding collecting user information.

"While details were lacking, the opt-in feature [in HealthKit] to allow apps access to data is, in our opinion, a critical element that could help side step privacy issues and potentially allow Apple to monetize the information," he said.

Considering Apple's aversion to collecting user data, and the backlash the company would likely see from selling that information, it doesn't seem likely the company would choose to go down that path. Apple has had plenty of opportunity to gather and sell user information as a revenue stream and so far hasn't, which makes the possibility it would decide to do so now in such a controversial way very unlikely.

Apple will launch iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite this fall. The company still hasn't announced any new hardware this year, although there have been hints from executives that product announcements are on the way.

Mr. Um is maintaining his target price range of $388 to $645 and "Market Perform" rating for Apple's stock. Apple closed on Monday at $628.65, down 4.35 (0.69%). The company's stock is at $628.39, down 0.26 (0.04%) in after hours trading.