Is Apple's Next Revolution a Mere Evolution?

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Tomorrow at 1 Eastern/10 Pacific, The Motley Fool's top analysts will be hosting a live blog breaking down what Apple's iPhone 5 press conference means for investors. The best part? They'll also be taking any questions you have about the phone and Apple as an investment as well. Make sure toset a reminderto come back to Fool.com this Tuesday for all your iPhone 5 news and analysis!

The iPhone 5 is coming. Or at least, Apple (NAS: AAPL) is getting ready to unveil the iPhone 4S on Tuesday. Maybe we'll get both.

Either way, the annual iPhone refresh is running late when compared with previous years. If the 4S becomes a reality, it's probably a juiced-up iPhone 4 with more memory and the faster ARM (NAS: ARMH) processor already found in the iPad 2 -- not a complete overhaul of last year's model. Rumor would have it that Apple is introducing a lower-end iPhone 4 as well, same as the existing models but with less memory. And finally, if the iPhone 5 is real, I haven't heard anything pointing to awesome new features. At best, you'll also see a better OmniVision Technologies (NAS: OVTI) camera chip, a redesigned case, and improved software.

Does this sound like the iPhone revolutions we've come to expect every summer? It's late, the new offerings seem underwhelming on paper, and the software improvements that might be the iPhone 5's best selling point will probably trickle down to earlier models anyhow.

Where's the beef?
Apple investors typically bid up share prices significantly in the weeks leading up to a new iPhone release. This time, Apple shares have been sliding instead. The lack of investable excitement is palpable.

So is this where Apple runs out of unicorn juice and magical rainbows? If the iPhone 5 doesn't impress -- or, worse, doesn't exist -- then the Android cohort led by Samsung, HTC, and Motorola Mobility (NYS: MMI) gets a primo opportunity to rush in and start grabbing market share from Cupertino's shackled hands. Maybe even Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) and Nokia (NYS: NOK) get a second lease on life with respective new software platforms to promote.

Yeah, maybe. But probably not.

Remember the iPhone 3GS? Not much more than a speed-bumped iPhone 3, that old smartphone fossil didn't come out swinging, either -- but it shipped in record volume anyhow. A recent price drop on that graybeard gave it another turn in the big-sales spotlight. The darn thing is two years old and supposedly not much of an upgrade when it was new.

Do you really doubt Apple's ability to pull off that trick twice? I don't.

The proof is in Tuesday's pudding, most likely followed by rambunctious pre-order numbers. To help you keep your eye peeled on the product announcement and its collateral damage across the mobile industry, we've built the My Watchlist feature. Add Apple and other mobile players to your watchlist, then soak in all the news and analysis you can handle:

At the time this article was published Fool contributorAnders Bylundhas created a synthetic long position in OmniVision but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Research In Motion and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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