It's the Friday before Macworldand once again, tongues are wagging about what Steve Jobs will pull out of his jeans pocket; what he might have lurking up his trademarked black sleeve; whether he can offer up something to pump some life back into this sagging stock.
I've written in previous postswhat sources have been telling me to expect at the Tuesday morning keynote in San Francisco: a new, super-slim, sub-notebook Mac with 12-inch screen, 50 percent slimmer than the existing laptop, which could sell for $1,500, and feature flash memory instead of a hard-drive. I'm hearing the device might feature a touch-screen interface as well, ala iPod Touch and iPhone.
I'm also told to expect a sales update on the iPhone, which, based on orders to the company's Asian manufacturing partners, could be far more robust than Wall Street is expecting.
The other things making the rounds: a new video rental download service with News Corp.'s Fox--which could pose problems for Netflix and Blockbuster ; a possible reconciliation with our parent NBCUniversal to put NBCU content back on the iTunes store; and a possible re-naming of Apple's iTunes to something that reflects the varied media consumers can now download from the site.
But despite all that, Apple shares have been a mess these last few weeks, plunging from just shy of $200 a share on Dec. 28, to a low of $172 today. That's about $25 billion in market cap in a very short period of time, and even with a forward multiple of 27, many analysts are telling me these shares look oversold.
That said, I had an interesting exchange with Intel's Paul Otellini earlier this week at the Consumer Electronics Show. Apple's switch from IBM chips to Intel's happened on Otellini's watch and most people at the time said it was a move that Apple had to make in order to be competitive on price and capabilities.
But since then, Apple Mac sales have soared, surpassing 2 million units a quarter. Apple is devouring market share far faster than Hewlett-Packard ,Dell, any of its competitors. Otellini's move to put Intel inside the Mac is now a remarkable stroke of genius. I asked him about that, saying there's no way in the world he could've envisioned the relationship paying off so handsomely, so quickly.
"Apple has done a remarkable job capitalizing on a number of inflections," he told me. "They capitalized on the move to consumer, which they have done marvelously. They were able to capitalize on the move to notebooks which is the trend in computing today, building great computers using Intel processors. And they have done it with elegance and class and I think the consumer appreciates that."
Now, if only shareholders could, too! We'll see what happens comes Tuesday.
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