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Second-gen iPhone in final phase; Apple TV update planned - report

After meeting with key component suppliers and manufacturers in Asia, researchers for investment bank Goldman Sachs said this week they believe Apple will introduce two revisions to the iPhone in 2008 — one minor, one major — in addition to an Apple TV overhaul during the second half of the year.

In a research note on Tuesday, analyst David Bailey advised clients that his Far Eastern contacts have lead him to believe that "Apple has several important new products lined up for 2008," though none of them are expected to pack the same punch as the company's inaugural iPhone handset.

Among them is a second-generation iPhone currently in the "final design phase," the analyst said. The handset is expected to "have a similar form factor as the current version although it could have a different look and will probably include 3G capability."

Bailey estimates that the next-gen iPhone will launch sometime during the second half of the year, but also believes the company will tie over consumers with "a smaller upgrade with more flash memory earlier in the year."

Meanwhile, the analyst's Asian contacts have also led him to believe that "Apple will be making changes to Apple TV" sometime in the second half of 2008 "which could include an LCD display."

"Apple will refresh its entire Mac line-up throughout 2008, but information about the potential launch of a subnotebook was scarce, with one supplier saying that the product may be pushed out, citing possible design issues," he added.

In general, Bailey said several of the companies he met with suggested that they were seeing higher than expected shipments of iPods this quarter, with one commenting that Apple adjusted orders upward in October during the peak holiday season manufacturing build.

"Both the iPod Touch and nano are seeing strength while iPod shuffle demand seems stable, which should cause blended average selling prices (ASPs) to come in above our $150 estimate," he wrote.

This data point appears to corroborate recent comments from CNBC's Jim Goldman, who last week cited his own sources in Asia as saying that the iPod Touch was selling "far better than expected," compelling one of the Apple's manufacturing partners to increase production to 5.1 million units for the current quarter.

For his part, Bailey added that his supply chain contacts are expecting another year of double-digit iPod growth in 2008. On the Mac side, he said, Apple’s notebook demand remains strong and should drive above-market growth for the seventh quarter in a row – a trend that suppliers expect will continue in the new year.

Goldman Sachs maintains a Buy rating on Apple shares with a 12-month price target of $205 per share.