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Analyst updates Intel Mac predictions

Apple is making \"great progress\" on the Intel version of Mac OS X 10.4 \"Tiger,\" says one analyst who also predicts the first Intel Mac systems will include PowerBooks, iBooks and Mac minis.

In a note to clients on Friday, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said checks with sources indicate that the upcoming release of Mac OS X 10.4.4 for Intel runs well, with noticeable improvements to the Rosetta PowerPC emulation environment that improve backward compatibility with AltiVec support.

\"We believe this will alleviate concerns that older software that hasn\'t been ported to Intel will run well without a recompile,\" Wu wrote.

The analyst also updated his predictions on the first Intel Macs, saying the PowerBook, iBook, Mac mini and Xserve will likely be the first models to go Intel because they are \"weaker members\" of Apple\'s product line that \"would benefit moving to Intel.\"

Based on similar reasoning, Wu said he doesn\'t foresee the iMac being one of the first Intel Macs because \"its current PowerPC G5 configurations already offers industry-leading price-performance.\"

Wu said he believes that Apple may be ready to debut the first Intel Mac during the first quarter of 2006, with others to follow in subsequent quarters.

\"While many believe that cost was primary reason for Apple moving to Intel, we believe power management and the oppertunity to enter new markets are bigger reasons — including the potential for a lightweight sub-notebook or palmtop similar to those offered by Sony, Lenovo, Dell and Sharp,\" Wu wrote. \"We believe there is pent-up demand for an Apple subnotebook and that it would sell very well if priced competitively at $1499 or lower.\"

American Technology Research recently raised its December quarter forecast on Apple to include $4.9 billion in revenue, 54 cents earnings-per-share, and shipments of 9.7 million iPods.

The firm maintains a \"Buy\" rating on Apple shares with a target price of $77.