A very good source of mine with good connections to Apple's Asian manufacturing partners called me this morning with some news: Seems like Apple will be making headlines in the next few weeks and months with some of its hottest products: the iPod Touch, the iPhone and a new ultra-portable laptop.
First, the item on the Touch: this source is being told that a company involved with its manufacturing has increased production to 5.1 million units for the holiday shopping quarter. Piper Jaffray for one had anticipated Apple selling about 3.7 million units, so this production increase is significant. Incidentally, Piper had expected Apple to sell a total of 23 million iPods this holiday shopping season.
For iPhone, AT&T tipped Apple's hand last week when the company's CEO, Randall Stephenson, reported that a 3G version of the iPhone was coming in 2008. Most of the analysts I had spoken to, said they expected the release to be in the back half of the year, toward the end of the third, or beginning of the fourth quarter. This source now expects the 3G iPhone to hit store shelves by May or June.
And then there's this: this source says he has now heard from manufacturing partners in Asia that Apple is preparing to unveil a new, ultra portable laptop computer at the company's Macworld event next month in San Francisco.
The blogs have speculated about this, but he says he now has hard evidence that the smallest laptop ever from Apple is only weeks away. He says the device will feature a 12-inch screen and will be 50 percent thinner--and lighter--than current versions of the MacBook Pro. He says the product will not have a hard-drive, but rely on Flash memory instead and likely retail for around $1,500.
All of this bodes well for Apple into 2008. But early word of a new iPhone just a few months away, and a new laptop just weeks away, could cause some customers to rethink their holiday shopping plans.
That could be an issue if shoppers decide to put off new purchases and wait for the newer versions of these devices instead. Apple stock doesn't seem to be worried about that. The company's month-long rally continues today.
But if you brush those retailing questions aside, it seems clear that Apple's innovation team is hardly standing still. The iPhone development is incremental, but necessary. The new laptop, if this source is right, could spawn even more interest in the company's already hot computer business. This could be a very interesting MacWorld indeed.
Oh, and for what it's worth: I did contact Apple this morning. A spokesman tells me Apple doesn't comment on rumors and speculation.
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