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Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

Apple's June quarter iPod shipments tracking near estimates

An analysis of April unit data from market research firm NPD leads researchers at PiperJaffray to believe that iPod shipments for Apple's June quarter could come in around 9.5 million units, slightly below Street estimates of 9.8 million units.

In his second Apple-related report of the day, analyst Gene Munster noted that the 9.5 million unit approximation is based on various assumptions and is an extrapolation of one month of data.

"When the second month of data is released, our analysis will likely lead to a slightly different iPod unit figure than what our analysis suggests based on the first month of data, so we believe investors should supplement this data point with other information," he told clients.

For Apple's June quarter, the analyst isn't expecting iPhone sales to have a material impact on financials, as the device is likely to launch with only a matter of days left in the quarter. However, he bills the company's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference as a "significant wildcard in the quarter," which could draw positive reactions from investors.

As part of the annual Apple developer gathering, Munster said he's prepared for a full-featured demonstration of Leopard, including a demo of how Leopard will integrate Windows interoperability. He's also expecting new MacBook Pros and the possibility of redesigned iMacs.

Come the September quarter, the analyst said shares of Cupertino-based Apple should start to reflect the benefits of initial iPhone numbers, new iPods for the holiday season, Mac market share gains, and strong back-to-school sales.

"The first full quarter of iPhone numbers will be reported with the September 2007 earnings," he informed clients. "Also, we expect Apple to launch new widescreen iPods with the iPhone's multi-touch technology at a price-point below the iPhone's $499 (likely $399)."

Munster added that Apple may also update its miniature iPod shuffle for the holiday shopping season, as he believe the company's emphasis on the lower-cost players released in September 2006 significantly impacted its December 2006 quarter.

"We also expect further worldwide Mac market share gains toward 3.0 percent (up from 2.6 percent in [the first quarter of 2007)," he continued. "These gains should be driven by strong education and back-to-school sales in the quarter, and the industry trend toward laptops."

According to IDC data, Apple currently holds a higher U.S. market share in the notebook category (4.8 percent) than in the overall PC market (3.7 percent).