Apple continues to be Wall Street's hottest date, with analysts predicting a new and improved iPhone to build on the success of v.1 as soon as mid-next year.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes iPhone maker, Apple remains on track to grab yet more success in the coming year, bucking the trend among US businesses to suffer under increasingly weak consumer spending trends.
Looking at the iPhone, Wu points out that, despite the hype and (in some areas) the coverage, 3G access - and usage - isn't yet mainstream, certainly not in the US.
Wu points out: "Even in Europe and Japan, where the technology is more available, network coverage is somewhat spotty. While there are a decent number of 3G phones (10-15 per cent) being shipped, the untold reality is that they use much more prevalent 2/2.5G wireless infrastructure most of the time. In addition, 3G is not as field tested. We think a particularly important data point is that RIMM, the leading smart phone vendor, has experienced a lot of success with 2/2.5G Blackberries."
Wu points to the cost of setting up, manufacturing and using 3G devices as market inhibitors, estimating the cost of such support as adding around $15 or more to the cost of a 3G device. "We believe these price points need to come down a bit before 3G can be widely deployed."
Echoing Apple, Wu also observes that 3G uses "too much power", saying: "Our sources indicate that 3G requires 35-40 per cent more power to run. This is a key issue as Apple seeks to deliver as much battery life as possible on its highly functional iPhone."
Despite these limitations, Wu thinks a 3G iPhone is likely to appear in the "mid- to-second half 2008 timeframe".
He says: "We believe by then, the network coverage, price points, and battery life issues will be better addressed. Should Apple decide to ship earlier, it will likely be positioned as a high-end smart phone and allow the company to reposition the current 2.5G iPhone as a more mainstream product."
Wu rates Apple as a stock to buy with a 6-12 month target price of $210 per share.