In advance of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote speech today American Technology Research analyst, Shaw Wu, has placed his bets on today's news.
In a note to clients the analyst states: "We anticipate the announcements to focus on two areas — Macs and home entertainment." The analyst moves to reiterate his 'Buy' rating on Apple's stock with a $99 target price.
Apple has kept its secrets in the run-up to this years event, and this doesn't escape Wu's notice: "In our view, there appears to be more uncertainty as to what Steve Jobs will announce this year than in previous years. We believe this is likely because Apple is plugging leaks better as protecting its secrecy remains a top priority for the company. We therefore believe there will likely be more surprises this year," he writes.
Citing "sources", the analyst predicts the debut of new video iPods with Bluetooth headphones. On rumours of an Apple mobile phone he claims these devices are "near manufacturing stage".
"On the Mac side, we believe the key feature Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard will have over its predecessors is much better Windows compatibility. We are picking up the potential for full-blown virtual machine capability that will allow seamless use of Mac and Windows at the same time, but it is not clear to us if it will be available from Apple in this version. Regardless, better compatibility should help accelerate Mac adoption among PC users," he observes.
The analyst also predicts that the much-discussed iTV wireless media streaming device will be just the "first of many" such devices in the home entertainment space to emerge from Apple.
Wu also predicts that Apple will announce movie distribution deals with one or more additional partners than its existing partner, Disney.
"We are not certain on timing but our analysis indicates that Apple is beyond prototype on large-screen technologies (for a larger monitor or possibly Apple-branded HDTV)," he adds.
Returning th discuss speculation on the so-called 'iPhone', Wu writes: "While our analysis continues to indicate Apple's first mobile phone is technically complete, its "go-to-market" strategy continues to be a mystery and likely a gating factor (Mobile Virtual Network Operator versus traditional carrier or both). Our conviction remains high that the first phone will be released in 2007 — potentially in the first half of the year," he adds.