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TMO Reports - Analyst: Expect New Macs, iPods, Software, iTunes Content for Macworld

by , 12:25 PM EST, January 9th, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO -- Analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research expects Apple to make a number of new product announcements during this week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, including new Macs, an updated iPod shuffle, new software, and new video content for the iTunes Music Store. He also maintained a "Buy" rating on Apple's stock, saying the company, "is well-positioned to continue above market growth rates with arguably the industry's most powerful and complete stack of hardware, software, and service."

Macintosh

For new hardware, Mr. Wu believes that Apple is ready to release an Intel-based Macintosh computer this week. He first made a prediction of an early release on December 12th, 2005, and said Monday that Apple is ready to go with a new model.

"As we mentioned in early December 2005," wrote Mr. Wu, "we believe the Macs likely to move to [Intel] first include PowerBook, iBook, and Mac mini and its Xserve G5 enterprise server, arguably weaker products that would benefit by moving to [Intel]. We believe one of these product families will be ready with others to follow in subsequent quarters."

He also expects a new form factor for a mobile Intel Mac, one "more lightweight and sleek -- likely a subnotebook with widescreen," though he didn't specify that this would be announced during Macworld. Once it is released, however, he said that "such a product will do well and become a blockbuster if priced competitively at $1499 or lower."

It's been a long time since Apple had a Mac that could be described as a "blockbuster."

As an aside, Mr. Wu also speculated that Front Row, the media management software Apple introduced with the most recent update to the iMac G5 line, will eventually be standard on all Macs.

The significance of this, other than being a no-brainer, is that it would make Apple the first company to make remote controls a standard input device for all of its computers, which could start a trend, "just like it did as the first vendor to include a mouse." He noted this as further evidence of the convergence of consumer electronics and computers.

Lastly, Mr. Wu expects new displays from Apple that are even larger than Apple's monstrously large 30" Cinema Display, though he doesn't necessarily expect them to be released during Macworld.

He wrote, "We believe it is likely plasma technology due to price-performance and in 42-inch and 50-inch sizes. While we are not certain of the exact timing of when these larger displays will be released, we believe it makes strategic sense for AAPL to develop its own line of HDTVs to round out its end-to-end product portfolio. We believe this gives AAPL tighter control over quality, components, and interfaces supported, including gigabit ethernet and FireWire."

iPod shuffle

Mr. Wu said that Apple's iPod shuffle line is due for a refresh, but that this refresh would be one of form factor, and not larger capacity, in part to keep from overlapping with the 2GB and 4GB iPod nanos. Accordingly, new shuffles would still be 512MB and 1GB, and will be smaller than a pack of gum. They will also be introduced in a variety of colors, including black. He expects the price point of US$99 and $129 to remain in effect.

Tiger

Apple might preview Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard at Macworld -- Mr. Wu was not adamant about that -- but he specifically expects Apple to unveil Mac OS X 10.4.4, a point update for Tiger. The biggest features of this update will be full support for Intel and PowerPC Macs, and improved Rosetta performance. Rosetta is the technology that allows Intel-based Macs to run applications compiled for PowerPC.

Numbers

Mr. Wu believes Apple is ready to unveil a spreadsheet component for an updated iWork '06. Said spreadsheet will be called Numbers, to compliment the word processing Pages and presentation development tool Keynote.

"We believe iWork needs a spreadsheet application to give users a more complete office productivity experience, not to mention compete more effectively against Microsoft Office," he wrote.

iTunes

To close out this major raft of predictions and expectations, Mr. Wu said he believes Apple is ready to announce new video content for the iTunes Music Store. He thinks there will be new content from NBC and ABC, and possibly announcements for CBS and Fox. Sometime in 2006, he expects full-length feature films to be available at the iTMS.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a small share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.  


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