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Apple CEO Tim Cook, introducing the iPhone 13 on Tuesday. Photo: Apple

With the iPhone 13 lineup providing only modest updates to Apple's flagship smartphone, the company may be even more reliant on promotions from wireless carriers to keep the sales momentum going.

Why it matters: Apple counts on the iPhone for a huge chunk of its own sales, while such sales are also critical to the rest of the mobile industry, including network providers and component suppliers.

Our thought bubble: Apple is the largest stock in the S&P 500, so its performance — which is up 14% year to date — has an outsized impact on any indexed portfolio.

Driving the news: Apple on Tuesday unveiled the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max — all updates to similar-size models from last year's line.

  • A sleeper hit among the updates could be a larger battery, which addresses one of the biggest issues facing modern smartphone owners: a phone that does everything they want but still struggles to get through a full day of heavy use.

The big picture: Subsidies, which had been on the wane, have increased over the last couple of years and have played a big part in keeping iPhone sales strong throughout the pandemic.

  • Apple talked about carrier trade-in discounts as a part of its pitch for the iPhone 13.
  • AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have already announced a range of deals, including up to $800 off the iPhone 13 and up to $1,000 off the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 9, 2021 - Economy & Business

Apple spearheads era of the mega-caps

Data: YCharts; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Amazon have between them gained $5.5 trillion of value since their March 2020 lows.

Zoom in: Apple alone has risen in value by an astonishing $1.85 trillion in just 433 trading sessions — an average increase of well over $4 billion per day.

  • In just 118 days between May 6 and September 1 last year, Apple increased its valuation by $1 trillion.
  • Before 2018, no company had ever even been worth $1 trillion. Now, Apple will be worth more than $3.3 trillion if it rises from its current level of $175 and hits Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty's target of $200 per share.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine mandate after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks announced in a memo to employees Tuesday that it has dropped plans to implement a vaccine mandate for all U.S. workers, AP reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

2 hours ago - Health

Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

America is seeing more COVID hospitalizations than other wealthy countries during the Omicron surge, according to Our World in Data.

Why it matters: Vaccines keep the vast majority of COVID cases out of the hospital, but vaccination rates are also lower in the U.S. than these other countries.