Talk about the coming iPhone and AppleTV device dominated the discussion with the chief financial officer of Apple at an investment conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.
Peter Oppenheimer, appearing at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference, declined to give specific unit sales forecasts for the new products but anticipated they will be strong.
"AppleTV will change the way people gather and purchase their digital content," said Oppenheimer of the device, due out later this month. It is a set-top box that delivers digital content stored on a computer, including video purchased from Apple's iTunes online store, to a TV.
However, the usefulness of the AppleTV may be tied to the amount of video content available on iTunes. Today, he said, 400 movies and 350 TV programs are available for downloads, with more added all the time. He said Apple recently reached agreements with film distributors Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate Entertainment to sell downloads of their movies on iTunes.
The much-anticipated iPhone is scheduled to hit the US market in June. The iPhone, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced at Macworld in January, features an innovative touch-screen interface on a combination phone, iPod, and email and internet-access device. It will sell for $499 or $599 depending on storage capacity, and will require a two-year contract with Cingular Wireless, the mobile division of AT&T in the US.
He declined to comment specifically on a 1 March report from Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty, who interviewed him at the conference, in which she raised her forecast for 2007 iPhone sales to 8 million from an earlier forecast of 6 million, based on a survey of 2,500 US customers.
"Half the demand is coming from the traditional high-end handset market and half from Apple's customer base," Huberty said.
While not commenting on the forecast, Oppenheimer said the iPhone will be a "breakthrough product."
"Though Apple is new to the mobile phone market, we believe the addressable market will grow quickly," he said.
In its last quarterly earnings report on 17 January, Apple posted net income of $1 billion, or $1.14 per share, on revenue of $7.1 billion for the three months ended 30 December 2006.
Analysts forecast Apple to earn $0.62 per share on revenue of $5.16 billion in the current quarter, according to a consensus estimate produced by Thomson Financial.
In a 40-minute conversation with Huberty, including questions from other analysts in the audience, Oppenheimer did not discuss the stock options scandal at Apple. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Attorney's Office in San Francisco are investigating whether Apple improperly accounted for and disclosed the backdating of options. No charges have been filed.