Does anyone else remember a time when the days leading up to Macworld would be filled by web sites and message boards gossiping about fantastic new products from Apple? It's still that time, but now instead of some guy sitting in his underwear and posting from his parents' basement, the lead rumor mongers are CNBC reporters with slick hair and six-figure financial analysts in corner offices.
AppleInsider has the latest research note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who is now predicting… well, everything.
"We believe the timing is right for Apple to update most of its Macs. Some models may only see minor specification upgrades to newer, faster Intel processors.
The Mac Pro will likely get Penryn CPUs from Intel and maybe BTO Blu-ray drives, while the laptops will likely get more storage and a CPU bump. Don't count on Apple giving up its industry-trailing position as the only OEM to sell a $1099 laptop without a DVD writer anytime soon, though. Speaking of the MacBook, Munster believes the pseudo-subnotebook will be an expansion of the consumer line.
"That said, we continue to expect the 'ultra-portable' MacBook to be Apple's thinnest and lightest ever. While it may not be as small as we originally expected, we believe this could be the most consumer-friendly way to expand its current lineup of MacBook portables," Munster told clients. "It will likely be priced between the $1,099 consumer level MacBook and the $1,999 MacBook Pro."
Setting aside the hilarity of the pricing guesstimate, one wonders how Munster squares "consumer" with a laptop sporting NAND flash-based drives and LED-backlit displays. That's not to mention the possibility of "a unique touchpad, possibly using the same multitouch technology used in the iPhone and iPod touch."
If all that weren't enough, Munster thinks the iTunes Store may finally begin renting movies, assuming some kind of deal has been made with the studios. Maybe NBC Universal is just playing hard to get.
Amazingly, Munster is not predicting a 3G iPhone or iTablet, but there may be new games for the iPhone—and is anyone else wondering how Steve can possibly meet the expectations for the Keynote next month? And what happens if he doesn't? Here's one possibility.
AAPL between Keynotes: 2005 – 2006
Starting in 2005, we saw a run up in the perceived value of the company that peaked with Macworld Expo 2006 and approximately $85 per share.
AAPL between Keynotes: 2006 – 2007
This was immediately followed by a decline in stock price that reached a low of around $50 in June. It took nearly a year for the stock to recover to Macworld 2006 levels from Macworld 2005.
AAPL between Keynotes: 2007 – 2008
In contrast, 2007 did not see a drop, but a steady—some would say freaking amazing—climb, no doubt at least in part due to the iPhone. AAPL will likely break $200 per share by Macworld 2008, and the question then becomes one of what it takes to keep moving higher in 2008. Let's hope the analysts and anonymous nerds on the Internet got it right about their