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Analyst predicts new iPod shuffles at WWDC

As Apple's annual World Wide Developers Conference fast approaches, speculation is running wild as to what the company may or may not announce during the event, set to kick-off next Monday.

Yesterday Banc of America Securities analyst Keith Bachman said the company will likely use the event to introduce new 2GB and possibly 4GB iPod shuffles. In a research note sent to clients the analyst also said Apple may debut the much-anticipated iTunes phone, which has been under development by Motorola.

"We note that it has been reported that Apple flash suppliers (Samsung and Toshiba) are ramping up their production of higher capacity NAND flash chips in both 2G and 4G," Bachman wrote in his report. "We believe that it is likely that Apple will introduce new higher capacity flash players (perhaps with a screen) sometime this summer."

On the subject of Macs, the analyst said that the iBook and eMac (which he has apparently confused with the Mac mini) are also due for a refresh, but he does not see them coming at the conference.

While Apple has seemingly stuffed its reseller channel with an abundance of Macs, and more specifically iPods, a handful of tipsters are reporting that some of the company's west coast retail stores have curiously run out of iPod shuffles this week.

Contrary to Bachmans report, however, AppleInsider sources believe the price of 4GB flash has not dropped to the point where it could be included in a competitively-priced digital music player. On the other hand, a 2GB flash-based iPod is more likely, and expected some time in the immediate future.

Banc of America Securities offered no changes to its Apple estimates and maintains a 'Buy' rating on Apple stock with a price target of $44 a share.