Analyst: Apple keynote to focus on home entertainment

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes that Apple’s product announcements at Macworld Expo tomorrow will focus on Macs and home entertainment, but that the company could also unveil a new iPod, cell phone, or even an Apple-branded HDTV.

“There appears to be more uncertainty as to what Apple CEO 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,” Wu says in a research note to clients today. “We therefore believe there will likely be more surprises this year. We anticipate announcements to focus on two areas—Macs and home entertainment. Our supply chain sources indicate new vPods with Bluetooth stereo headphones and cell phones near/at manufacturing stage, though we are not certain on near-term timing.”

As do many other Apple watchers, Wu expects Apple to officially release its iTV streaming media device this week. He also expects new iTunes Store movie partners, and hears whispers of an Apple big-screen TV. “We anticipate new movie content partnerships with one or more studios (Fox, Universal, Paramount, and Warner) that extend beyond Disney,” says Wu. “Furthermore, 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).”

Wu says a new video iPod is definitely in the works, but is unsure of timing. “The very successful vPod has not had a major update since August 2005 when it was first announced. Our analysis in the supply chain indicates that its successor has been under development for some time and recent data indicates shifting component order dynamics,” Wu says. “We do not have high conviction on timing but see improved battery life, widescreen, and Bluetooth 2.0 stereo as the newest features.”

Wu is also unsure if the long-rumored iPod phone will be shown tomorrow. “While our analysis continues to indicate Apple’s first cell phone is technically complete, its ‘go-to-market’ strategy continues to be a mystery and likely a gating factor (MVNO vs. traditional carrier or both),” says the analyst. “Our conviction remains high that Apple’s first cell phone will be released in 2007—potentially 1H07.”

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