What to Expect From Apple in 2018

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For Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) fans, 2017 was the year of the iPhone X, the 10th-anniversary edition of the iPhone that was originally released when Steve Jobs was at the helm. While Apple's stock recently took a hit after sources said the pricey iPhone X was less popular than originally estimated, the phone that starts at $999 has still received pretty stellar reviews across the board.

Apple's stock price rose an impressive 46% in 2017, closing the year at $169 per share, near its all-time high of $177, which was also hit in 2017, as investors hopped on the tech giant's train ahead of its big product launch in September. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 climbed a less impressive 19% in 2017.

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Some people think Apple could be the first company to hit $1 trillion in market cap in 2018, a 14% jump from where the stock is now. What could drive the stock higher in 2018? Here's a quick look at some of the new products and services you can expect from Apple in 2018.

HomePod

Apple is expecting to start 2018 out with a bang, with the release of its first home speaker, called the HomePod. The company originally planned to release it in December, but announced in November that it was pushing back the release date to early 2018 because "a little more time" was needed before it was ready.

This is a big move for Apple, because it will be competing with Amazon.com's line of Alexa products, as well as Alphabet's Google Home. Apple is going to have to carve out its own niche in a market that has already been around for some time. As usual, Apple is coming in late, but is hoping that sleek design and superior sound quality will persuade people to spend $349 on its version of the home speaker.

Apple has a lot riding on this product as a way to help it boost Apple Music subscriptions to compete with market leader Spotify. In September, Apple told Billboard it had over 30 million Apple Music paying subscribers, while Spotify said it hit 65 million in September. Apple's recent purchase of music discovery app Shazam could also play into an updated version of the HomePod.

I'm hoping the release of a smart speaker that has to listen closely to questions and answer accordingly will help Apple improve its Siri voice assistant to better compete with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Air Power charging mat

Apple first announced the AirPower wireless charging pad at a September event. The device isn't ready quite yet and Apple said it will work with only three of its iPhones: the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. In the past, iPhone users have had to buy a special case to make their phones work with wireless chargers from other makers.

While Apple hasn't released many details, rumor has it the pad could cost around $199 and have the ability to charge up to three devices at once. That could be a game changer if Apple makes it compatible with its future iPads and Apple Watches.

The charging base will also be compatible with the second-generation AirPods case that was announced in September and is due out in 2018.

iPhone updates

Apple has made its September unveiling event an annual event, suggesting we should see a lineup of new iPhone models again in September 2018.

Based on past events and early rumors, Apple will probably unveil an updated iPhone X, a larger model of the iPhone X, and a less expensive iPhone model with an LCD screen to counterbalance the pricey OLED screen models.

Of course, Apple typically releases yearly updates to a number of its other products. We can expect Apple to work on making its product lineup more seamless and integrating some of its new technology, such as Face ID, into some of these new models.

Big content spending

We can expect Apple to ramp up its spending on content in 2018 as it looks to cover lost ground in the content race with Netflix, Amazon, and other players. According to an August report, the company had set a $1 billion budget for original content over the next 12 months.

Because Apple is releasing content to its Apple Music subscribers, this is another way to beat out Spotify and to keep customers within its ever-growing ecosystem.

The first public company to hit a $1 trillion valuation?

Some analysts covering Apple are feeling extra optimistic and see the company as being the first to hit $1 trillion in valuation in the next year.

GBH Insights released a note in November arguing that the upgrade cycle around Apple's new iPhones, as well as its growing services business, could push it to the $1 trillion mark.

RBC's famed Apple analyst, Amit Daryanani, released a note in August saying he could see Apple reaching $1 trillion valuation in the next 12 to 18 months.

Apple's market cap is currently at about $875 billion, while Alphabet's is at $730 billion and Amazon's is at $565 billion.

Hitting a $1 trillion market cap in the next 12 months may sound like a lofty prediction, but Apple remains the most valuable brand and has some exciting products coming out. Hey, we can dream, right?

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Natalie Walters has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, and Netflix. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.