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Monday, May 01, 2006, 06:45 am PT (09:45 am ET)

AmTech: Apple to double iPod nano storage

Analysts for American Technology Research on Monday said checks show Apple Computer to be planning a new iPod nano with twice the storage for its September quarter.

"Our most recent checks indicate the current 2GB and 4GB nano models will see their storage doubled to 4GB and 8GB capacities," analyst Shaw Wu told clients in a research note.

The analyst said he is also picking up indications that the players will gain basic video capabilities. "We anticipate these new nanos will become available in the September Quarter and become top sellers, particularly if Apple keeps the price points low at $199 and $249.

In the meantime, Wu says Apple is working hard on extending the battery life of its next-generation widescreen video iPod. He says Apple's current 5th-generation video iPods have a battery life of only 75 - 90 minutes when playing video.

Some of the ways to improve battery life that Apple is exploring are said to include: using a bigger battery, using both NAND flash and microdrives inside a single iPod, and building better software that makes Broadcom's AlphaMosaic multimedia co-processor operate more efficiently.

Also on Monday, Wu told clients he believes the "widely anticipated" 13-inch Intel consumer notebook from Apple is on track to ship in the June/July timeframe. "We view this as an important release as iBook is the second most important volume product in the Mac business," he wrote.

The analyst sees the risk-to-reward on shares of Apple Computer to be attractive, given they are trading at 27 times the firm's 2007 earnings-per-share estimate of $2.59. "We remain firm believers that the move to digital entertainment is a multi-year trend and that Apple is well-positioned to capitalize with its unique and defendable iPod + iTunes and Macintosh franchise," he wrote.

American Technology Research maintains a Buy rating on Apple shares with a price target of $101.