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Friday, September 06, 2013, 09:06 am PT (12:06 pm ET)

Apple could use 'a Siri-like moment' at next week's iPhone event, Barclays says

Apple needs to introduce another "wow" element with its new iPhones, says British financial services company Barclays, if the company wants to really differentiate its smartphones from the competition and reignite investor interest.



The 2011 unveiling of Apple's virtual assistant Siri alongside Apple's iPhone 4S "generated a flurry of consumer interest, making the first two quarters of the 4S upgrade cycle much stronger than expected," analyst Ben A. Reitzes said in a note to investors this week. The Cupertino-based company, which is expected to unveil its new iPhones on Tuesday, "could really use a 'Siri-like' moment right now" in order to pump more life into its shares, Reitzes said.

While he doesn't dismiss the possibility outright, Reitzes doesn't seem confident of such a moment, saying that the event is "so well telegraphed" that real movement in Apple shares would more likely be sparked by the "scope and velocity of a new China strategy and any new features within iOS 7 and fingerprint scanner technology."

Apple has already announced a September 11 event for Chinese journalists, coming just 10 hours after the stateside media event. Observers note that the iPhone maker's ongoing talks with China Mobile — that nation's largest carrier, with some 700 million customers — may have resulted in a deal between the two firms in which China Mobile will finally carry the iPhone.

Apple is also thought to have built fingerprint scanning technology into the next generation of iPhone. Apple bought embedded security company AuthenTec last year, and recent image leaks appear to show elements of the iOS home button with scanning technology built in. Should such technology be featured in the next iPhone, the report says, it could have a wide range of applications, from simple phone security to a secure mobile payment system with Apple's iTunes at its center.

Barclays is more optimistic on the possibility of "wow factor" devices making an appearance in 2014. Though the report says Apple already "missed the trend toward larger screened phones" like Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, the firm sees Retina-enabled iPad minis and the ever-rumored larger-screened iPhones showing up some time in the next year, as well as possibly a larger form factor for the iPad or a convertible device.

Barclays' report finishes on an optimistic note, predicting that "Apple's growth rate is set to improve with new product cycles" and forecasting as much as 20 million iPhones sold per month in the December quarter. The firm estimates Q413 earnings per share of $7.50, a two percent year over year revenue decline to $35.4 billion. The firm sees earnings per share at $13.07 for the first quarter of fiscal 2014.