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Apple Says "Let's Rock" With New "Family" Of IPods

By now you've heard that Apple Inc. will be hosting a Steve Jobs' orchestrated and hosted event in San Francisco next Tuesday.

And as usual, the web is rife with speculation about a new family of iPods, a MacBook refresh, there are rumors--as they're usually are--about a potentially new name for the iTunes website to better reflect the multi-media now available above and beyond merely music. And of course, there's the ongoing speculation about a potential deal with the Beatles.

The name of the event is called "Let's Rock," which seems a clear indication that Apple will focus its time and attention on new iPods.

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That's all fine, but just Steve Jobs taking the stage might be enough to move Apple shares, way above and beyond any products he might pull out of his 501's fifth pocket. Jobs is no recluse, but he hasn't gone out of his way to be "seen" since rumors of his declining health and thin appearance spread through the blogosphere like a pox. We now know--well, we're more than reasonably sure--that Jobs is healthy and that the company, and Jobs himself, have largely popped all those rumor bubbles. Nonetheless, seeing him on stage, hearing what he has to say, whether he addresses his health or not, will likely grab as much attention as the products on which Apple would rather have all of us focus.

Quickly, however, attention will turn from Jobs himself to those new products and what Apple will do for iPod. This is still clearly the little music player that could, and can. Investors have been waiting for iPod sales to slow precipitously, and while they are slowing, it's not nearly as bad as investors feared.

In Apple's last quarter, iPod sales actually rose 12 percent, year-over-year to 11 million units, but they are down 21 percent from Apple's third quarters in 2006 and 2007, accounting for about 22 percent of Apple revenue. Still, the line is due for an update, but don't expect the revolutionary changes that the iPod Touch offered a year ago. I'm expecting maybe a standard Wi-Fi connection across more iPods than merely the Touch; possibly Bluetooth so we can finally enjoy wireless headphones on these devices; and maybe the addition of a digital camera on the Touch.

Expect better prices on the entire line as well, and likely more capacity on most of them.

This isn't necessarily going to be all about iPod either. As I have detailed previously, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster says we can expect new versions of the MacBook, too. Which would come at the perfect time since the Mac momentum has been stellar these last several quarters, and is expected to continue through year-end.

This event is crucial on a number of levels. As I have detailed in a post on Aug. 20, this period for Apple can be a bonanza for its investors. Shares typically climb about 40 percent between now and the end of the year. Almost doubling from August to December in 2004; up 40 percent during the period in 2005; 25 percent in 2006; a little less than 40 percent last year. As I have mentioned, past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Tuesday's event will set the tone, however, and be a key factor in determining where Apple shares will head between now and December.

Of course, check back here! I'll have complete coverage as well as my Live Blog of the Apple event Tuesday morning, beginning just before 10am PDT, or 1pm EDT.

  • Apple's 'Rock' event may unveil new iPods

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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