Apple remains the strongest investment in the technology industry and appears set to exceed industry growth for at least the next year, an analyst said last night.

There is a risk warning, however. In a note to clients received by Macworld UK, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said: "It is in Apple's best interest to migrate the rest (of its products to Intel) within one or two quarters, as selling two processor families and marketing one as superior to another adds to customer confusion and isn't a sound long-term strategy."

Intel iMac Front Row glitch repaired

The analyst also notes that Apple's Mac OS X 10.4.5 system software update repairs a glitch in the video performance experienced by Intel iMac users when playing videos using Apple's media-focused Front Row software.

Apple's decision to increase the processor speeds of its MacBook Pro range of Core Duo-powered notebooks reflects a rare spot of good news in the company's relationships with processor suppliers.

"In our checks with industry and channel sources, we are picking up that Intel's yields have improved, enabling Apple to ship more high-end Core Duo systems," he wrote.

MacBooks - US first?

While Apple's London Regent Street store had no MacBook Pro models in stock yesterday, it appears Apple is focusing on its US market, according to Wu: "Our checks indicate that MacBook Pros are in stock at key distributors and many Apple stores while others are en route to fulfil pre-orders," he wrote.

Apple's London staff have said they expect the notebooks to appear in store "possibly early next week".

Expect sales spike

"We continue to believe that Apple's fundamentals remain sound and arguably among the strongest in technology," Wu said. He rates Apple's stock as one to "Buy", and sees the recent decline in share prices as an opportunity for long-term investors to buy more shares, anticipating future gains.

Wu predicts strong future sales as Intel Macs ship: "Over the next 12-24 months, we see a Mac upgrade cycle with the Intel transition, continued penetration of iPod and iTunes in digital music and video, and extension of both its Mac and iPod and iTunes franchises into new business areas including home entertainment servers, mobile phones, and other consumer electronics," he explained.