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Tuesday, September 01, 2009, 12:20 pm PT (03:20 pm ET)

Signs point to possible Apple TV upgrade at Sept. 9 event

Changing an earlier prediction that surprise announcements would not occur, a Wall Street analyst released a second note Tuesday suggesting an Apple TV upgrade could debut at next week's event.

Though he said in an earlier statement that he believed an appearance by Steve Jobs would be the biggest news out of the iPod-centric event, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has now said he has reason to believe there will be an Apple TV-related announcement next Wednesday. He noted that Apple's online store has a wait time of one to two weeks for the 40GB model at $229. Munster said he has never seen a delay for the Apple TV since it debuted in March of 2007. The analyst suggests that Apple is either phasing out the 40GB model, as the 160GB offering is still available, or is selling its remaining inventory before a new product launches.

"We believe the company is most likely phasing out the 40GB model and possibly reducing the price of the 160GB model," he said, "but a new model is possible given the hardware has been the same for 2+ years."

Munster does not believe that a major upgrade to the Apple TV will happen next week because he expects such an announcement to coincide with a subscription service that would need to be negotiated with content providers. Weeks ago, Munster reiterated his belief that Apple is working towards a new Apple TV with iTunes show subscriptions and possibly DVR capabilities.

"It is unlikely that negotiations for new content are finished," he said.

But given the age of the Apple TV hardware, Munster said he wouldn't rule out a new lineup as a "wildcard" announcement at the media-centric event.

Munster went on to re-state his belief that Apple will launch a full-fledged television set in two to five years. Such a device, he said, would have DVR and home media functionality built in, and would sync content with Macs, iPhones and iPods wirelessly. He said an Apple television could also play games, with an iPhone or iPod touch acting as the wireless controller.

"Such a device would command a premium among a competitive field of budget TVs," he said. "We believe Apple could differentiate itself with software that makes home entertainment simple and solves a pain point for consumers."