Another area to watch, surprisingly enough, is Mac sales: While the professional Mac promised by Tim Cook has yet to make an appearance, the most recent revision of the iMac--which was largely constrained in supply last quarter--should have begun shipping in volume in the past three months. That could provide a bright spot in Apple's line-up.
If Apple does still manage to top analysts' expectations, as it's done so many times in the past, it's also important to keep in mind that it will have done so in a quarter that saw the release of no new Apple products--in fact, about the only thing Apple did release was the 128GB version of the fourth-generation iPad.
To assuage those concerns that innovation has stalled, expect Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer to expound on their faith in the company's forthcoming product pipeline. Nobody can resist talk of future products, even if Apple executives remain as tight-lipped as usual. Because no matter which way Apple's results go, it seems clear that all of us--analysts, pundits, and consumers alike--are suffering from our own pent-up demand: We're all waiting to see what Apple has up its sleeve next.
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