Analyst Offers Macworld Expo Predictions

Piper Jaffrayis Gene Munster took a look at the pre-Macworld Expo rumors, and offers his odds on what Apple Computer will surprise us with on January 9. He thinks that new product announcements could include an Apple-branded cell phone, a new video capable iPod, and the release of the iTV home entertainment appliance. Announcing any of these products at Macworld Expo would be a positive for Apple, but not announcing a cell phone would be seen as a negative.

Mr. Munster broke out his certainty ranking system to rate the likelihood of products and features. A 10 is highly likely, and a 1 indicates extremely unlikely.

Apple Cell Phone
Appleis cell phone entering production in the next 2 to 6 months gets a 9. A candy-bar form factor version of the phone within the next 6 to 12 months also gets a 9.

A smartphone version of Appleis cell phone with an integrated keyboard has a likelihood of 7.

A radio-transparent cell phone casing gets only a 3, and "iChat Mobile" video and instant messaging seems unlikely with its 2 ranking. Including an iSight camera, however, along with 4GB or 8GB of storage has a higher likelihood with a 6 out of 10 ranking.

Mr. Munster commented "Just as Apple waited several years to enter the MP3 market, we believe the company is well-positioned to enter the phone market now that early music-enabled handsets have tested the waters. Apple will differentiate itself by offering iTunes integration on Macs and PCs, and by leveraging its expertise in software engineering for media playing devices."

New iPod
Seeing a new widescreen iPod with a touch-sensitive and wireless features in the next 2 to 6 months is fairly likely with a 7 out of 10 ranking.

"According to several Apple patents, along with word from component suppliers, Apple is working on a 6th generation widescreen iPod that could feature touch-screen capability," he said. "We believe that the new iPod will be a significant improvement to the 5th generation iPod, as the device becomes more video-centric. As such, the iPod line would feature small music-centric and iwearablei players as well as a larger music player with more video-centric features."

Apple announced its home entertainment center hub that links the music and videos on your computer to your TV in September 2006. Mr. Munster gives a 10 out of 10 chance that weill see the iTV device in the next 2 to 6 months, and that it will have features that werenit previously announced.

"We believe Apple could release an improved model with an internal hard disk drive," Mr. Munster said. "Downloadable movies average about 1.5GB each on iTunes and one way that Apple can ease capacity restrictions is to add hard drive space to the iTV."

The likelihood that weill see Mac OS X 10.5 released at Macworld only gets a 3. Itis also unlikely that weill see the rumored ultra-portable 12-inch MacBook Pro in the next 12 to 18 months - Mr. Munster ranks that with a 4.

Mr. Munster added "Another possibility is that of a touch-screen tablet Mac. Rather than marketing the tablet computer to business users (like tablet PCs), we believe that a tablet Mac would be targeted at home users desiring t wirelessly control media content. Again, this rumor is ia stretchi because we have not seen any hard evidence, other than several patent applications, that point to the release of a tablet Mac."

Apple Computer has already fueled specualtion over what CEO Steve Jobs will announce during his keynote presentation at Macworld Expo next week. The companyis Web site now sports a graphic that states "The first 30 years were just the beginning. Welcome to 2007."

Apple stock is currently trading at US$84.18, up 0.38 (0.45%).

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