Reading the Macworld San Francisco Tea Leaves

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Each December, the Internet heats up with rumors of what the technology world should expect when Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers his keynote at the beginning of Macworld Conference & Expo San Francisco the following month. CNN Moneyis Amanda Cantrell on Wednesday rounded up the rumors and talked to analysts about their expectations.

Several analysts told her that they expect Apple to show off its first computers with Intel processors, with laptops the likely product line. Intel will introduce its dual core Yonah processor at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas the previous week, which led Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner to suggest that PowerBooks will be the first Macs to start using the new chip.

By launching Intel-based Macs early, Ms. Cantrell pointed out, Apple avoids a possible sales slowdown as consumers wait for the introduction of the new machines that were originally slated to start appearing in June 2006. Pacific Crest Securitiesi Steve Lidberg told her that he thinks the iBook will be the first to offer Intel inside.

Mr. Lidberg also predicted refreshed Mac minis at Macworld, a notion seconded by UBS Warburg analyst Benjamin Reitzes, who thinks the new version of the diminutive computer could be pitched "perhaps as a digital media device."

Other pre-Macworld speculation addressed by Ms. Cantrell includes the likelihood of new versions of the iPod shuffle, possible Apple-branded iPod accessories and deals for even more video content sold through the iTunes Music Store.

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