Barclays: Apple Will Use WWDC to Extend Ecosystem Lead

Apple will use its 2012 World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) to extend the ecosystem lead the company enjoys over its competitors, according to a research note from Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes. The analyst told clients on Tuesday that a combination of new hardware and software enhancements will drive Mac and iOS device sales during the second half of calendar 2012.

Apple's WWDC 2012 Invitation

Apple’s WWDC 2012 Invitation

“We are expecting some significant new information to be released regarding new products and further developments around the Apple Ecosystem – the ‘glue’ that sustains its momentum in our view,” the analyst wrote.

He added, “We believe it is important to see how excited developers are to make products on the Apple platforms. In the past, this excitement has served as a leading indicator for acceleration in sales of various products, especially iPads and iPhones.”

Mac Sales

Mr. Reitzes said that he “was particularly excited” about the potential of new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, noting that, “We believe innovations, new software, more NAND options and more attractive pricing could catalyze sales – with the potential to double the run rate sales of portables at Apple within a few quarter.”

Doubling the company’s run rates would be a significant boost to its Mac sales, as portables take the lion’s share of its computer business. As part of his Mac bullishness, Mr. Reitzes said that Apple is serious about pricing MacBook Airs “to move.”

For the September quarter, Barclays is projecting an 11.9 percent quarter-over-quarter sales increase for Macs, with a 14.9 percent year-over-year sales increase for Macs in the December quarter. Apple sold a record 5.2 million Macs in the December quarter of 2011, with Barclays’s estimates coming in at almost six million units.

Windows 8

The analyst also believes that Apple is working hard to stay in front of Microsoft’s Windows 8, which will be released later this year. The release of the new OS will be Redmond’s first serious effort at competing with Apple’s iPad, and Mr. Reitzes believes that Apple will be pushing its ecosystem to keep Windows 8 from gaining a significant tablet foothold.

“As a result,” he wrote, “we also expect further information around the new Mac OS X Mountain Lion and the upcoming iOS 6. We believe software and services will be the focus, with major enhancements to Maps, iCloud and Siri, which developers and users can take advantage of.”

He said that he will also be watching to see how Apple further integrates features and technologies from iOS into Mountain Lion.

Barclays has an “Overweight” rating on Apple’s stock, with a price target of US$750 per share.

Shares of AAPL gave slightly on Tuesday, ending the day at US$562.83, down $1.46 (-0.26 percent), on light volume of 13.8 million shares trading hands.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.