Analysts, Apple watchers and Mac users are agog at what may be revealed at Macworld Expo next week.
Analysts seem most inspired, with a series of upgrades and positive comments closing the first week of 2007 in advance of next week’s Mac fiesta.
Analysts at JMP Securities led the charge yesterday, upgrading their Apple stock target price from $84 to $93. And that’s a conservative prediction.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is more bullish. He told clients yesterday that he’s “almost certain” Apple will soon launch an iPod-cum-mobile phone, and that the iTV media-streaming device will have seen a series of significant enhancements before it ships.
Apple’s focus on the front-room media experience is also likely to be reflected at the non-Apple attended CES show, which also starts next week. Early reports indicate digital entertainment will be one of the central focuses at CES.
On the mobile iPod, “Apple waited several years to enter the MP3 market, we believe the company is well-positioned to enter the phone market now that early music-enabled handsets have tested the waters,” Munster wrote.
He expects Apple will license its handset through as many of the leading network operators as it can sign up, or may make an exclusive deal with Cingular.
However, Apple continues to face one fatal flaw: whether its explanation of CEO Steve Jobs’ part in the recently disclosed stock options grant accounting furore is accepted by US regulators.
Apple has no clear successor who could be seen as a replacement for Jobs, who is part visionary, part uber-executive, as well as a technology innovator.
Speaking to Business Week, former SEC Commissioner Joseph Grundfest, a professor at Stanford Law School said: “Steve Jobs is a national treasure, and Apple has to do everything it can to keep him actively engaged. If Martha Stewart can stay at her company, there should be no issue – even in the worst case – in designing a structure that keeps Jobs at Apple.”