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Wu: Apple's "fatboy" nano could be this holiday's dark horse

In a research report released Thursday morning, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said Apple's new iPods are worthy successors to the models they replace, especially the iPod nano "fatboy," which he believes will emerge as this year's most popular stocking-stuffer.

"We find the new 'fatboy' nano most intriguing with its powerful feature set, 2-inch widescreen, unique form factor, and aggressive price points," the analyst told clients."We strongly believe this product is the dark horse to watch this holiday season and that it is positioned to have a similar impact as last year's redesigned iPod shuffle, which was a run-away seller."

Wu explained that the "fatboy's" aggressive entry level price point of $149 for the 4GB model (and $199 for the 8GB model) is likely to steer consumers away from the bare-bomnes iPod shuffle at $79 and towards the nano's video and gaming capabilities.

More generally, the analyst was impressed with all of Apple's iPod refreshes, noting that they'll combine for a "very strong" line-up for the upcoming holiday season. "From our assessment, we find the feature sets and price points well differentiated and believe this will help minimize cannibalization among product lines and versus iPhone," he wrote.

Similarly, and contrary to popular opinion, Wu found the price cut on 8GB iPhones to $399 from $599 to be both positive and necessary.

"We have had reservations with its high price point and are glad to see Apple address this problem," he explained. "In addition, we believe this lower price is necessary to reduce cannibalization with the new iPod touch, which is essentially a thinner iPhone without the cell phone, e-mail, and Bluetooth."

The one concern he does have with the cut, however, is the reaction from many of Apple's most loyal customers who are now feeling ripped off after having paid $599 for the handset over the course of the past nine weeks.