Wedbush Morgan analysts Craig Berger and James Schneider on Thursday issued a PortalPlayer research report in which they said that NAND flash consumption has slowed, portending a slower rate of iPod nano shipments that will hurt the audio processor maker in the short-term. "Based on other checks," they wrote, "we expect unit shipments will decline by 10-15% QtoQ in Q2, generally worse than investors anticipate."
However, looking ahead to the second half of this year, the analysts saw an investment opportunity "ahead of a likely sharp ramp in demand and orders." They cited "independent confirmation from a reliable industry source" that Apple will likely launch a redesigned video iPod "this spring, possibly as early as its 30th anniversary on April 1."
They see such a device "layered in at the top of Appleis existing iPod product portfolio, likely offering a larger size LCD screen, a bigger battery, and high storage capacity to accommodate full-length video, at a retail price point of US$400-$500. We note that Appleis existing device is called the iPod (not the Video iPod), and think Apple retains this device for customers seeking a music playback device, with the Video iPod targeted at video enthusiasts."
Mr. Berger and Mr. Schneider expect Apple will use PortalPlayeris audio decoding processor in the new device, "given Appleis design schedule constraints, PortalPlayeris software istickiness,i likely Video iPod device processing requirements, and the execution risk Apple faces should it change processor suppliers."
However, they are still cutting their 2006 and 2007 EPS estimates for PortalPlayer, in light of "softer iPod demand overall, combined with some existing iPod cannibalization, [that] will more than fully offset the incremental demand created by this new Video iPod."