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Thursday, October 06, 2005, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Analysts expect new iPods, Macs at special event

Over the last two days several Wall Street analysts have weighed in with their expectations for next week's Apple special event, predicting updates to Apple's hard disk drive (HDD) iPods and Macintosh product lines.

In a research note released to clients on Tuesday, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said Apple appears ripe to introduce an iPod with video capabilities and revisions to one or more of its Macintosh products.

"We find the timing [of the special event] interesting and somewhat expected as we left the recent September 7 event thinking Apple's been working on a whole lot more than just an iPod nano and iTunes ROKR cell phone," said Wu.

The analyst believes that after two years of studying the video market and negotiating with content partners, Apple may be ready to go to market with a first-generation video-capable iPod.

"If Apple can charge under $400 and preferably $299, we believe it will sell well. At higher price points, we believe it may be difficult to drive high volume," the analyst said. "We are also picking up indications that Apple could announce an optional external "video-out" module that attaches to an iPod video meaning one can output the video to a TV or external screen."

Wu added that new Mac offerings could include a Power Mac G5 with dual-core PowerPC processors andPCI Express to bridge the gap to Intel processors.

Gene Munster, an analyst for PiperJaffray, also expects Apple to introduce new HDD iPods, but says he'd be surprised to see any new Macs "other than incremental changes to speed and memory."

"We believe that it is most likely that Apple will launch either a video iPod or a smaller form factor high capacity (>10GB) iPod at next Wednesday's "One More Thing..." event," said Munster.

Like Wu, Munster also believes a video iPod would need to be reasonably priced below $400 and be accompanied by a significant library of iTunes accessible video content to not be anything more than a niche product in the near term.

While not yet making any predictions on the Apple special event, UBS analyst Ben Reitzes this week also tossed around rumors of new HDD iPods, speculating that a video iPod could be near.

"Our checks back recent reports that a handheld device capable of video playback could be in the works," Reitzes said. "We would expect possible new devices to be HDD-based and look a bit like a larger white iPod with a bigger color screen."

As first reported by AppleInsider last month, reliable sources have said to expect new HDD iPods and Pro Macs during the month of October.