Apple Readying Wednesday Announcement: New iPods, Apple TV?

As Apple gears up for a Wednesday announcement, Apple watchers gear up their speculation.
"I believe it would give Apple more usage for the App Store," Gottheil said.

The App Store, accessible through iTunes, offers Apple software and third-party applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Many of those applications include games, which could become playable through the Apple TV.

Gottheil also believes a less expensive MacBook is a long shot for being announced at the San Francisco event, but it's possible. Apple could offer a new model with a slower processor than today's lowest priced MacBook, which costs $1,000.

While slower, the new model would likely be equal to what Apple offered three years ago for $1,100, and would carry the advantage of running Snow Leopard, Apple's latest Mac operating system.

If Apple sold such a device for $700, then it could increase market share "considerably" while still maintaining the high profit margin it likes to keep on its hardware, Gottheil said.

Other possible announcements include a new version of the App Store that would make it easier for a person to find the software they want. The store has grown to include 65,000 applications, and Apple executives told analysts during a recent conference call that the company was working on a better way to organize the service.

"If you go in and you don't know exactly what you're looking for, then it's not a very friendly environment," Baker said of the App Store.

Finally, speculation is fierce over whether Apple chief executive and star pitchman Steve Jobs will make an appearance at the event. Apple co-founder Jobs, who underwent a liver transplant, was on medical leave the first half of the year, and such an appearance would be the first time he has taken the stage of an Apple event since last year.

Given his health problems, most industry observers believe Jobs is likely to spend less time in the spotlight in the future. If Jobs shows up at the San Francisco event, then it would likely be a cameo meant to assure fans that he's doing well.

"If he's not there, it's going to lead to a whole lot of speculation," Baker said.

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