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Piper: Apple has 'little room for surprise' at WWDC 2010


Two lost prototype iPhones, presumed to represent the fourth-generation handset that will be be announced by Steve Jobs at the Worldwide Developers Conference, have taken away the element of surprise for Apple, one prominent analyst believes.

Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray said Wednesday that Apple has "little room for surprise" at WWDC, set to kick off on June 7. He believes the hardware maker will introduce a new fourth-generation iPhone with a front-facing camera for video conferencing, better battery life, an improved rear camera, thinner design and longer battery life. But he said people shouldn't hold their breath for a major surprise, like a model compatible with the Verizon network in the U.S.

"We believe that it is unlikely that the next generation iPhone will be available at Verizon (or Sprint) at launch; rather, it is more likely that it remains exclusively available at AT&T in the U.S. at launch," Munster wrote.

Apple may also replace the $99 iPhone 3G with the iPhone 3GS or a new device at the $99 price point, he said. And the company could give an update on iPad sales, or provide a "limited demo" of Mac OS X 10.7.

"The Mac OS has not seen the same level of innovation as iPhone software in recent years," Munster said. "With the next version of Mac OS X, we expect Apple to bring some of the same innovation to the Mac platform. Multi-touch technology, for example could be a key feature of Mac OS 10.7."

But the scheduled sessions for WWDC 2010 indicate that this year's conference will focus on iPhone OS 4, which could suggest that an advanced preview of the next version of Mac OS X 10.7 will not happen.

"Bottom line: WWDC will likely be in-line with expectations, and a non-event for the stock," Munster wrote, "but the new iPhone will likely drive unit sales beyond Street expectations, providing a positive catalyst for shares of AAPL in the coming months."