While Apple's white earbud-wearing iPod missionaries bring cheer to Wall Street, its Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger that may illuminate Apple's future fortunes, argues CNN/Money.

Driven by mass iPod conversion and the so-called iPod "halo factor", Apple has seen its stock values "surge" 32 per cent so far this year, with iPod and music product sales significantly boosting the firm's bottom-line.

Surely Apple's reached the height of its transmogrification from appearing an interesting but seemingly increasingly irrelevant industry player to the significant shine it shares today?

Not so, argues the report. Urging caution among investors, it states that Apple's new Tiger OS is set to debut "in the first half of the year" - and successful software sales of the new OS incarnation could spur several percentage points to Apple's progression.

Analyst for Cross Research-Soleil, Shannon Cross, said: "Apple's software side is underreported on Wall Street but it's a big positive in terms of margin contribution."

Many analysts also believe Tiger - as well as the recently released Mac mini - could spur Apple's future hardware sales.

"Tiger could drive a new hardware cycle and that's pretty significant," an analyst told CNN. While now less dominant in the mix hardware still supports half Apple's revenues.

And Apple's market position - with just a few percentage points of market share - means that even a slight improvement in that position could significantly improve its position in the matrix.

With little significant technology success stories around, one analyst told CNN: "Where do I put my money if it's not Apple?"

For investors, the conundrum remains: with the Mac diehard cult firmly established, success in key markets, the new iPod missionaries and global media attention surrounding the company - is there still upside in Apple?