Tech whiz Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital fund Loup Ventures, a firm keyed into the future of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and robotics, is at it again with a confident prediction for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). When it comes to the future of Apple, Munster has not been shy about pointing to Service as the company’s next paradigm evolution. In the next leg of the research analyst’s thesis, he shines light on new product and service categories in his latest bullish note.
In Munster’s most recent research notes, he has dived into expectations for a solid iPhone business, a rising Services segment, and capital returns to take AAPL shares on an even bigger upturn. Now, the analyst points to a fourth “pillar” to his Apple-as-a-service thesis: “optionality around new product and service categories.” Here, the analyst underscores specifically AR wearables, personal health, original video content, as well as self-driving cars, all standing as further growth catalysts Munster believes are not yet valued into investor mindsets. With fresh hardware products bringing to Apple’s table new Services prospects, the analyst likewise sees a tech titan raring to cultivate both hardware and Services “in tandem” – all while boosting the greater AAPL “ecosystem.”
“AR wearables a great fit for Apple,” highlights Munster, who sees a world springing with data- and augmented reality playing a key theme. Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook “is doing everything in his power to advance the theme,” continues the analyst, who brings attention to three of last year’s standout developments: the ARKit, AR optics in the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone (the iPhone X), and an investment in SensoMotoric- wearable computer vision technology.
Munster writes, “While the tech community believes in the long-term potential of AR as the future of experiences, most investors are understandably mixed about its potential, given the two most popular AR use cases today are Snapchat and Pokemon. Adding to investor skepticism is the failed consumer launch of Google Glass, released in 2014 and discontinued in 2015. As a society, we were not ready for people to wear cameras.”
In the grander scheme, the analyst bets on the potential of augmented reality, a key to Apple’s success down the line: “That said, we believe AR is real and Apple will be a beneficiary. We expect Apple’s AR theme to play out in three phases. First, this fall we expect 2 to 3 new iPhones to join iPhone X with advanced optics for AR (VCSEL arrays). Second, AR apps built using ARKit will slowly become the next gold rush for developers, led by games, ecommerce, and education. Last, we expect Apple will release Apple Glasses late in 2021.”
TipRanks suggests optimism with some caution baked into expectations when it comes to Wall Street’s majority perspective on the big AAPL machine. Out of 28 analysts polled in the last 3 months, analysts are split between the bulls and the sidelined on AAPL: 16 rate a Buy on the tech stock while 12 maintain a Hold. The 12-month average price target stands at $194.42, marking nearly 4% in upside potential from where the stock is currently trading.