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AmTech: Widescreen iPod with Bluetooth headphones in the pipeline

Apple Computer may release a new widescreen iPod with Bluetooth capabilities as early as its next fiscal quarter, analysts for American Technology Research said this week.

In a research note sent to clients early Tuesday morning, analyst Shaw Wu said his latest proprietary checks reveal that the new iMac Core Duo remains Apple\'s hottest selling PC.

Meanwhile, demand for the company\'s MacBook Pro professional notebooks continues to greatly outstrip supply, according to the analyst. However, he views recent improvements to the notebook\'s lead times to be a positive.

\"The most interesting development is that Apple has notified its distributors that its high-end 60GB vPod is \"at risk\" until the end of April, meaning it could be discontinued and/or replaced,\" Wu wrote. \"Timing is not certain to us, but we believe a new widescreen vPod with Bluetooth headphones could be ready as early as the June quarter.\"

The analyst also said his checks show sales of Apple\'s latest Intel Mac, the Mac mini, to be \"lukewarm, similar to the PowerPC versions it replaced.\" Wu said that despite the added features in the Intel version, there appears to be some hesitation among potential buyers due the price increase that accompanied the Intel Mac minis.

Looking at Apple\'s music space, Wu said checks show the iPod nano to be experiencing the greatest seasonal decline of all Apple\'s iPod models, with the exception of \"decent sales\" of the new low-end $149 1GB model. \"We believe Apple may need to increase storage capacities and/or cut prices to re-generate interest,\" he said. \"Declining prices in NAND flash and additional capacity coming on board should help Apple facilitate these moves.\"

American Technology Research made no changes to its March quarter estimates of $4.43 billion in revenue and 43 cents in earnings-per-share.

\"We continue to believe that consensus revenue and iPod unit forecasts may be unrealistically high,\" the firm said.

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