I'm waiting for the "big" Apple (AAPL) press conference in San Francisco, but I already know what will happen there.
I don't just know this because there is now an Apple media industry that reads tea leaves like the best Kremlinologist of the 1950s. I know this because, under CEO Tim Cook, Apple no longer has any need to keep its plans secret.
You could look at it as the difference between Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Or, if you're a Republican, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. If you're French, DeGaulle and Pompidou. (If you're English, Margaret Thatcher and John Major -- for Labour that's Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.) Get the picture?
Cook is in the business of harvesting the fruits of the revolution Steve Jobs created, step by step, in the 2000s. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just, well, sort of boring. It's not revolutionary, it's evolutionary. It's a series of concrete steps along a well-trod path.
What hath Steve wrought? In less than 10 years he turned the technology world completely upside down. He redefined music, then he redefined telephony, and finally he redefined computing. In the process he made China the world's workshop, and he redefined our relationship to China as one where they follow our lead -- whose profits would you rather have, Foxconn's or Apple's?
Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs. He isn't about the dream. He isn't the designer. He is about the engineering -- financial as well as technical -- about execution, about keeping the trains running on time, about (and this is the big news for shareholders) making certain the company's owners get their share of the harvest. (Dividends!) Here you have a stock worth $623/share, a market cap of $583 billion, a 1.7% yield, and in conventional valuation terms it's cheap as chips -- trading at 14.3 times current earnings. I've got a few shares. I'm in on the harvest, and I might buy more at current levels.
The revolution is over. The next revolution will be made somewhere else. And there will be a next revolution. The only reason Apple isn't trading higher right now is that investors don't think the next revolution will come from Cupertino. There will be no new revolutionary Apple TV to replace your cable box, no revolutionary Apple Home Server that checks your yogurt for spoilage, nothing more mind-blowing than the new Star Trek-like headquarters, a set for the real-life production of "I, Robot" sometime later this decade. (Maybe the next revolution will be robots.)
Yes, I'll be a virtual spectator at the latest Apple event. But when I'm looking for dramatic change, I'm going to be elsewhere.
Disclosure: I am long AAPL.