Business Week's Byte of the Apple column this morning is an extremely positive report on Apple's future.

Under the banner: "Will this be the summer of Mac?", the column looks at what's in store for Mac users this year. "A promising new set of chips, a possible Quark version for OS X, a surge in online advertising, and a new music store could goose sales - and the stock," it says.

It looks at the history of Apple stock over the last three years - in which investors have avoided investing in the company: "Few on Wall Street are predicting much more upside for Apple this summer. But let me be contrary: I think this going to be the summer of that might lift Apple's stock price," the report states.

"IBM has confirmed it is developing a new set of chips for Mac," it claims, Quark will release XPress for X and "the creative markets" should begin to rebound this summer, the report states. Apple's creative users may invest in hardware upgrades.

Looking at the logic of adopting IBM's PowerPC 970 chips, the report says: "New Intel chips are so fast they are eliminating much of the PowerPC's architectural advantage."

It continues: "Drop in a new, much faster chipset, and Power Macs will compare smartly with the competition." New processors could be the inducement Apple needs to increase sales to its creative markets. Consumer Macs would also benefit from more power in a broadband age.

Apple's Power Mac sales fell 26 per cent year-on-year to the second quarter 2003. Apple's management have admitted the problem. "Apple buyers seem to have lost interest in the existing line of PowerMacs," the report states.

Apple's music sales, the release of QuarkXPress and recovery in some advertising markets could improve Apple's fortunes, the report speculates.

In recent years, Apple's management has been engaged in a strategy of positioning the company to take advantage of any PC market recovery.

Apple now has its chain of popular retail stores; a market leading MP3 player; a string of innovative and popular products; sophisticated products - such as Final Cut Pro 4 - custom built to take the company into new markets; a reputation for innovation and design; and an operating system that's years ahead of the competition.

Weighing up the benefits, the report concludes: "Apple could outpace many other PC makers in the months ahead."