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Apple CFO Hints at "Future Product," Mum on Details

Apple CFO Hints at "Future Product," Mum on Details

by , 6:55 PM EDT, July 21st, 2008

Apple Inc. obviously is perpetually soon to release a new product or upgrade to existing product lines, but Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer told analysts Monday that such an upgrade (or "transition") would take place during the September quarter. That represents a very rare look into Apple's own crystal ball, as the company is famous for not announcing new products until Apple CEO Steve Jobs is ready to do so in full.

The issue arose when an analyst asked about Apple's guidance for gross margins during the September quarter, which Apple guided down to 31.5%, down from 34.8% in the year-ago quarter, and down from 34.8% in the June quarter, as well. Ben Reitzes of Lehman Brothers asked Mr. Oppenheimer for more details on why the company was lowering its gross margin guidance.

Mr. Oppenheimer explained that Apple was expecting a gross margin hit from a back-to-school special the company would soon be unveiling, as well as a one-time issue with a contract manufacturer that was responsible for some 70 basis points (0.7%) in gross margins.

The unexpected bit was when he added, "We've got a future product transition that I can't discuss with you today," a transition would also reduce total gross margins as the company sees higher costs on any new product rollout.

That would mean that one product line or another will be upgraded during the September quarter, though no specific details about what that product is, or what the change may be, were forthcoming. Apple COO Tim Cook did stress, however, that he expected investments his company was making in future products to leave Apple "far ahead of its competition."

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