What Wall Street is watching for at the Apple launch event

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Wall Street awaits Apple event

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While most people will be focused on Apple's product launch on Wednesday, investors will be watching to see if CEO Tim Cook raises the curtain on the technology giant's strategy for 2016, experts told CNBC on Tuesday.

"Apple usually knocks new iPhones out of the park—they are very polished in revealing new features," Wedgewood Partners chief investment officer David Rolfe said on "Squawk Alley." "The other products—that's going to give us a road map of where Apple thinks their company is going."

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Apple's flagship product, the iPhone, is expected to see upgrades like a more sensitive touch screen, powerful processor, ultra high-definition images and video, and will be bigger, slimmer and lighter, sources have said. In addition, Apple is expected to unveil a smarter over-the-top Apple TV streaming device and a larger iPad, building on previously announced partnerships in entertainment and technology.

Why do these upgrades matter to investors? They come after Apple's shares were dinged by recent stock market volatility surrounding economic slowdown in China—a major growth market for the company. Apple's stock has declined about 4 percent since the first week of August, though it's still up 13 percent over the past year.

If the new phones are enticing enough, then the launch could buck widely held expectations that iPhone sales will slow next year, Rolfe said.

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A pedestrian passes an Apple store in San Francisco.
Robert Galbraith | Reuters

Mark Gurman, senior editor of technology website 9to5Mac, said the big surprise will be how they position the different products.

"They'll have three different updated product lines. We'll learn how they all fit together. That will be the focus of the event," Gurman said on "Squawk on the Street."

Previous iPhone launches have caused Apple's stock to underperform the market, said Tavis McCourt, Raymond James' senior analyst. And while Apple is making some aggressive investments, it remains an iPhone-focused company for now—and an "extraordinarily successful" one at that, he told CNBC.

"I think enterprise hardware, specifically, has the chance to be meaningful longer term for Apple in a way that services probably can't," McCourt said. "But I really do view this as a decade-long initiative for Apple. I don't know that the next year or two, any of those will be more meaningful enough to overcome anything that's going on with the iPhone."

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A new, professional-grade iPad would come on the heels of a recently announced partnership with Cisco System's corporate cloud services. Apple is also said to be in talks with major content companies like CBS to stream television, and even produce original content.

If those deals come to pass, it could be a "breakout moment" for the TV service, Rolfe said. Gurman said the Apple TV was the most important product for Wednesday's launch, because of a new remote and operating system that could disrupt the videogame market.

"The gaming industry has a little bit to worry about," Gurman said. "It really has yet to be seen how well the gaming works, much power this Apple TV has, and if the right developers will make the right apps for it. But I think in five years' time, Apple could be a big competitor in the gaming market as well. "

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Despite challenges in the near term for Apple, all three experts said features of the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus provide a compelling case for consumers to upgrade.

"It's hard to believe Apple is a success or failure just on the basis of one year," McCourt said.

Said Gurman: "[Current] models will continue to sell well. I don't think investors have much to worry about."

What Apple is doing, he added, "is setting the stage for future hardware improvements."

Disclosure: Raymond James owns more than 1 percent stake in Apple. Apple is the second-largest holding in Wedgewood Partners' portfolio.