Analyst: iPhone Production On the Horizon

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told investors on Tuesday that itis "almost certain" that Apple will begin production on the iPhone in the next tow to six months. Even though several other companies have beat Apple to market with MP3 player/cell phone combos, the timing is likely to pay off for the iPod maker, according to Forbes.

He commented "We believe the company is well positioned to enter the phone market now that early music-enabled handsets have tested the waters."

Appleis cell phone could be announced as early as Macworld Expo 2007 in January. That model is likely to be a compact candy bar form factor. Another smart phone-style unit with a keyboard may follow later. The smart phone market, however, already offers stiff competition from Palmis Treo and the BlackBerry from Research in Motion.

Mr. Munsteris target price for Apple is US$99, and he currently rates the stock as "Outperform." Apple stock is currently trading at $91.27, up 0.15 (0.16%).

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