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5/25/2007
02:49 PM
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New MacBook Pros, Touch-Screen iPods In Coming Months, Analysts Expect

Investment banker Piper Jaffray predicts several hardware announcements may come from Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference.

What are the chances Apple will announce a new MacBook Pro next month and a touch-screen iPod by this fall? Pretty good, according to investment banker Piper Jaffray.

Analysts with the company released their list of predictions this week in advance of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, which starts on June 11.

In addition to the MacBook unveiling, Apple could also introduce a redesigned iMac at WWDC, financial analysts Gene Munster and Michael J. Olson said in a research note released this week. In addition, Apple is expected to demonstrate a full-feature version of Leopard, the next version of the Mac operating system. The demo is expected to include integrated Windows interoperability. Apple said it plans to hand out beta copies of the OS at the event, which runs from June 11-15.

The analysts, however, are assuming a late June launch of the iPhone, as previously stated by Apple. The highly anticipated touch-screen device is a combination mobile phone and MP3 player that launches Apple into the handset market. The iPhone will be available exclusively through Apple and AT&T, and will start at $499.

During the quarter ending in September, Munster and Olson expect Apple to launch a wide-screen iPod with the iPhone's touch-screen technology. The new iPod is expected to cost $100 less than the iPhone. Apple may also update the iPod Shuffle, the analysts said.

The new releases, along with strong education and back-to-school sales in the third quarter, are expected to "further worldwide Mac market share gains toward 3%," the analysts said. Also driving the gains will be Apple laptop sales.

The MacBook Pro unveiling at the WWDC is not a surprise, given that Apple recently updated the notebook line with faster processors, more memory, and larger hard drives. The refreshed portable features Intel Core 2 Duo processors running at 2 GHz and 2.6 GHz, 1 Gbyte of memory, a hard drive as large as 120 Gbytes, built-in 802.11n wireless networking, and a built-in video camera.

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