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Tuesday, December 05, 2006, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Analyst says iTV, new iPod and iPhone 'likely' at Macworld

PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster on Tuesday said Apple Computer is likely to roll out its iTV set-top box at Macworld Expo in addition to a new iPod and its much anticipated iPod cell phone.

In a note to clients, the analyst assessed 11 of the most popular product rumors surrounding the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, including a ranking of certainty on which products are likely to appear at the January trade show.

"With one month left in what is anticipated to be a solid holiday quarter for Apple, we believe investors will start to shift their focus to potential new product announcements at Apple's Macworld expo on January 9," Munster wrote.

He said growing expectations for new and upgraded products at Macworld could provide upside to his valuation of Apple, noting that the iTV and iPhone represent "significant additional potential drivers" for the company. He said the two products could be strengthened further by a release of a widescreen iPod at the trade show.

"Just as Apple waited several years to enter the MP3 market, we believe the company is well-positioned to enter the phone market now that early music-enabled handsets have tested the waters," Munster told clients. "Apple will differentiate itself by offering iTunes integration on Macs and PCs, and by leveraging its expertise in software engineering for media playing devices."

Almost Certain (in the next 2-6 months):

In the "almost certain" category, Munster listed both the iPhone's entry to manufacturing and a release of iTV at Macworld, ranking both rumors a 10 out of 10 in terms of certainty.

Likely (in the next 6-12 months):

The analyst said it's "likely" the iPhone will sport a candy bar form-facor, giving that rumor a 9 out of 10 ranking. Similarly, he said a wireless widescreen iPod with touch-sensitivity and a second iPhone model with integrated keyboard are also likely, ranking both rumors a 7 out of 10.

Also likely, though with a slightly lower ranking of 6 out of 10, are rumblings that the iPhone will be available in 4GB and 8GB configurations, bundle an iSight camera, and work on multiple wireless carriers.

A Stretch (possibly in the next 12-18 months):

Unlikely rumors, which Munster calls "a stretch," include an ultra-portable 12-inch MacBook Pro (4 out of 10), radio-transparent material used for iPhone casing (3 out of 10), iPhone to feature "iChat Mobile" video and instant messaging (2 out of 10), and a release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard at Macworld (3 out of 10).