Analyst Gene Munster Discusses the Potential of 'AirPort Express for Video'

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster on Wednesday spoke with The Mac Observer to address a vague statement he made in a research report issued on Tuesday. In regard to the new Intel Mac mini, he wrote: "We believe the eventual integration of AirPort for wireless video transfer will provide Apple with all the pieces to make a push into the living room." The new computer has AirPort Extreme built-in, but that is apparently not what he was referring to.

When contacted about the statement, Mr. Munster said via e-mail: "We are looking for a product that we have named iAirport Express for video.i Something that will allow your TV to hook up to your Mac like Airport Express does today for music. You could use some of the sharing in the new iTunes to delivery video in your home, but itis not the breakthrough for the average consumer that Airport Express for video would be."

During a subsequent phone discussion, the analyst explained that the integration of Bonjour into Front Row is "the first step for what weire talking about. The quality right now is suspect because of the streaming bandwidth through 802.11b/g. 802.11m is the high bandwidth we need, but itis not there yet." He noted that the quality of video currently available on the iTunes Music Store isnit up to par either.

"Apple knows where this is going," Mr. Munster added. "They want to roll out technology when itis ieveryday man-proof.i This is Appleis game to lose."

He noted that he had expected Apple to introduce a TV in addition to the Intel Mac mini and iPod HiFi boombox. He also expressed disappointment that the Mac mini is no longer available at the US$500 price point. "Thereis a small market of people who know how to take this thing and hook it up to a TV," he added.

With Apple abandoning the $500 price point on the Mac mini, Mr. Munster said that the biggest question left unanswered in the Intel transition is the iBook pricing. "If they come out with the Intel iBook and keep the $1,000 price point," he explained, "it means theyire not going after market share. The iBook is the key product with back-to-school coming up." He said that $800 was the price that he felt could best help Apple continue to increase its market share.

iNo More Free Lunchi For iPod Accessories Makers

Regarding the iPod HiFi speakers, the analyst said that it indicates Apple is "telling accessory manufacturers thereis no more free lunch. This will take away from Boseis market share and itis a major blow to speaker manufacturers." He added, however, that he felt some of what Apple CEO Steve Jobs said about the new product was "ridiculous. The sound quality isnit as good as he said. Itis great, but itis not a home stereo replacement. The sound cracked when you turned the volume up."

He also said that he thought the new leather iPod cases were "a joke. Jobs said that there are $1,000 cases out there, as if $100 is a bargain." He added that an Apple representative told him that the new case is aimed at people who want a way to protect an iPod while itis en route from one place to another, with the idea that they would then take it out to use it. Mr. Munster didnit understand what the case had to offer, if the user canit access the controls and it doesnit have a belt clip.

Ultimately, he said, the oft-speculated-about iPhone, as he calls it, is "the x-factor. I still think itis going to happen." The Internet has buzzed in recent months about Apple producing its own cell phone capable of running iTunes. While the first iteration of Motorolais iTunes-enabled phone was widely considered a failure, the company at the end of January introduced a new one with a sleeker form factor.