Analyst: New iPods likely delayed

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes that Apple’s next generation iPod models will face delays. “Previously, we believed that the new iPod nanos and widescreen vPod could be slated for release in calendar Q3 and Q4 of this year respectively. However, we now believe that both could be delayed by a quarter or two,” Wu wrote in a research report obtained by iLounge. The analyst believes the delay of the new iPod nano lies in a SOC (system-on-chip) chip change, while new video iPod development is being hindered by battery life issues. Click below to read Wu’s analysis of the iPod delays.
Wu said the nano delay appears to be caused by Apple’s move to change chip manufacturers. “For the new nanos, we now anticipate the December quarter as more likely as we believe the delay could be related to an SOC (system-on-chip) architectural change from PortalPlayer to another supplier with an integrated audio/video co-processor (likely Samsung),” Wu said. “We believe price points will remain the same at $199 and $249, but that storage capacities will double to 4GB and 8GB, up from 2GB and 4GB (we believe Gartner’s 12GB and above forecasts may prove optimistic).”

Wu said battery life remains the key issue in the next generation video iPod. “We are picking up that battery life continues to be the key gating technical factor that could delay its release until the first half of 2007 from Q4 2006,” he said. “Apple is aiming to increase both the screen size and improve the battery life—two conflicting attributes that are difficult to improve simultaneously and require significant engineering.” Wu believes Apple is exploring a number of ways to improve battery life, including better battery management software, using a bigger battery, and using both NAND flash and microdrives. Depending on how much progress is made, we are picking up that wireless Bluetooth headphones may or may not be included with this next-generation vPod,” he said.

Wu said a side benefit of the delays could be better spacing of iPod refreshes for consumers. “While it may sound counterintuitive, a positive side effect of these product delays could mean better spacing of iPods in 2007,” Wu said. “With the original nano and vPod released a month apart in late 2005, it created a very strong December quarter but exhausted Apple’s iPod pipeline for 2006. For these next-generation iPods, we believe Apple will likely pursue a strategy with refreshes in a more linear fashion.”

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