Jobs headlines Apple event, new iPhone in the wings

* iPhone growth is strong, but many rivals loom

* Apple event starts at 1 pm Eastern

By Gabriel Madway

SAN FRANCISCO, June 7 (BestGrowthStock) – Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.) (AAPL.O: ) is
widely expected to unveil its latest iPhone on Monday, as the
company aims to stay a step ahead of rivals in an increasingly
competitive smartphone market.

Chief Executive Steve Jobs will take the stage at Apple’s
annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, with investors
and consumers alike anticipating their first glimpse of a
fourth-generation handset.

But the bar is set high and it will be a challenge to wow
Wall Street. Apple’s stock has already gained more than 20
percent this year, and the company overtook Microsoft Corp
(MSFT.O: ) to become the world’s most valuable technology
company. [ID:nN03268178]

Few are expecting major technological advancements from the
current model, known as the 3GS. The new iPhone is expected to
be faster, sport a front-facing camera for videoconferencing,
boast longer battery life and a better screen.

Although no game-changing innovation is anticipated, the
iPhone remains the gold standard in the smartphone market, and
Apple’s product launches are the most closely watched events on
the technology calendar.

The iPhone has been a huge success since it debuted in
2007, boosting Apple’s margins, transforming it into one of the
world’s leading mobile device makers and setting the
competitive landscape in a smartphone battle that will play out
for years.

Although the iPhone is gaining share globally, it faces a
slew of new competitors, including Motorola Inc (MOT.N: ) and HTC
(2498.TW: ), designing high-powered handsets based on Google
Inc’s (GOOG.O: ) Android software.

Only last year, Research in Motion Ltd (RIM.TO: ) was seen as
Apple’s top rival. While the company’s BlackBerry remains the
smartphone of choice for many corporations that need fast
email, Apple has made strides in that market as security
concerns addressed by the BlackBerry eased. [ID:nTOE64G06A]

But the iPhone’s prime target — for now — remains the
consumer.

Investors are monitoring the smartphone wars closely,
particularly in international markets where the iPhone’s
penetration is relatively small.

In the United States, Wall Street and consumers alike are
eagerly anticipating an iPhone on the network of Verizon
Wireless (VZ.N: ), the No. 1 telecoms provider.

But that announcement is not expected to come Monday. Most
analysts expect to see a Verizon iPhone some time next year, or
perhaps as early as this fall.

Wall Street will also be following the iPhone’s pricing
closely. The iPhone 3GS currently starts at $199 with a subsidy
from exclusive carrier AT&T (T.N: ). Many analysts expect Apple
to cut that price to $99 and tag the new iPhone at $199.

The second-generation iPhone, known as the 3G, is expected
to be discontinued. On Friday, it was not available for sale on
Apple’s website.

Investing Analysis

(Editing by Edwin Chan and Richard Chang)

Jobs headlines Apple event, new iPhone in the wings