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Piper sees iPod boost; Sybase for iPhone; Japan/Korea rumor

Analysts at Piper Jaffray see iPod shipments on the rise and suggests Apple is bucking fears of a continued downturn. Also, Sybase is readying a native iPhone app, AT&T may offer iPhone insurance, and two carriers in Japan and Korea may launch the iPhone at the same time.

Piper boosts iPod forecast on strong sales

Recent NPD data suggests Apple is allaying fears of a flat or shrinking iPod market, according to a new investors' note from Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster.

Extrapolating from April sales based on Apple's past history, researchers at Piper have increased their early predictions for Apple's iPod shipments from the official 10.2 million units to as much as 10.5 to 11 million units shipped by the end of June. The range would represent a one percent quarter-to-quarter increase in volume — a significant turnaround from Apple's average six percent drop between the winter and spring quarters in earlier years, Munster says.

"We [at Piper] see this data point as a slight positive, given recent uncertainty surrounding the iPod as a long-term growth story," he observes.

The analyst also observes that Apple's average selling price for April is higher than forecast by Piper, climbing from $172 to $175, despite the spring representing the discounted iPod shuffle's first full quarter on sale.

Sybase preps native iPhone app

Adding to the iPhone's corporate appeal, Sybase on Monday said it would sell business software that would provide "enterprise grade" secure e-mail to the iPhone similar to methods used by Palm and Research in Motion.

Company official John Chen hasn't committed to a release date but expects the app to be available "soon," and most likely available before the end of the year. Apple debuts the App Store next month.

A version of the software is also coming to Google's open-source Android operating system, Chen says.

AT&T readying all-device insurance?

AT&T could soon extend its phone insurance to all devices, according to a purported leak at the Pinstack forums.

A tipster at the smartphone site claims the US provider will offer a $5 monthly plan that insures every phone, including expensive devices such as the AT&T Tilt. Users will also never have to pay more than a $50 deductible, the report adds.

While unconfirmed, the plan would provide relatively frugal insurance and is likely to include the iPhone.

Japan, Korea in joint iPhone launch?

Two of Asia's most sought-after cellphone markets may carry the iPhone at the same time, according to a report by Telecoms Korea (paid registration required).

Both Japan's predominant carrier, NTT DoCoMo, and Korea Telecom Freetel (KTF) are allegedly in talks that would release the iPhone at the same time in their respective countries. The device would necessarily be the 3G model, as both nations use WCDMA for their calling networks — a feature unsupported by the 2G phone.

While an existing announcement of the handset for India and Singapore fulfills Apple's predictions of an Asian iPhone launch in 2008, the Japanese and Korean launches are seen as crucial for bolstering Apple's worldwide marketshare.

NTT DoCoMo has previously confirmed talks with Apple in the past but is thought to have held out to date in part because of Apple's past insistence on revenue sharing, which has been potentially reversed following iPhone deals announced for more than 40 countries.