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Despite Apple stock's strong performance in 2004, Wall Street analysts still have a mixed opinion on the stock, according CNN/Money: "According to Thomson/First Call, eleven analysts have Apple rated a 'buy' or 'strong buy' while 12 have it rated a 'hold.' Shares are trading at nearly 44 times fiscal 2005 earnings estimates of $1.49 so they are not cheap. Then again, earnings are expected to more than double this year and grow at an average rate of 20 percent annually for the next few years. And the company does have nearly $14 a share in cash on its balance sheet. If you subtract that, the company's underlying business is trading at about 33 times estimates. That's still pricey but it's more in line with the P/E ratios of hardware companies Dell and Gateway....So if you're a long-term investor, it's hard to find any worms in the Apple story. But investors should realize that the stock could be volatile in the near-term. Expectations for hot new products coming out of Macworld and strong earnings are so high that the slightest disappointment could trigger a violent sell off."
Nyko iPod/Mac accessories
Nyko Technologies, a peripherals manufacturer, will exhibit an extensive lineup of all-new iPod accessories at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Nyko will introduce the following accessories for iPod: MoviePlayer, a peripheral that allows users to transfer and play movies, videos and photos; iTop Button Relocator, which relocates all basic control functions from the face of the player to the top of the iPod, and Universal Car Mount an attractive, easy-to use, and durable holder for mounting the iPod/iPod mini in a car.
Bare Bones giveaway
In brief: During Macworld Expo exhibit hours on January 11-14, anyone who comes to the Bare Bones Software booth wearing a Bare Bones t-shirt will receive a brand-new "BBEdit 8: Habit-forming" t-shirt, for free, while supplies last... KW Media Group has announced the launch of the much anticipated subscriber-only area of the Photoshop Elements Techniques Web site... Digital-Tutors announced today the availability of its highly anticipated "Maya Intermediate: Female Android Modeling" training kit - the latest release in a series of leading training resources for digital artists.
SportWrap armband colors
XtremeMac today announced the addition of three new colors for its current line of SportWrap Armbands for iPod and iPod mini. The new SportWrap Armbands come in yellow, red and blue with black trim accents. The company's SportWrap is a popular protective armband that is designed specifically for the active iPod user. "We designed SportWrap to do one thing, and to do it perfectly," said Gary Bart, president and CEO of XtremeMac. "We researched all of the problems associated with sports type cases and designed the SportWrap to effectively eliminate them. Now, by popular demand, we are adding colors, giving our customers more choices for self-expression." The sport cases are made from neoprene for water-resistance and feature a built-in playthrough cover that allows you to control your iPod while it's in the case. They are available now for $30.
iPod of the living room?
Merill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich says that circulating reports of a sub-$500 "headless" iMac would "the second step for Apple moving into the digital living room," following the release of its AirPort Express in July of 2004. In a report to clients, the analyst said that a sub-$500 iMac would help increase the iPod halo effect and move users to the Mac platform: "As we advocated in our June 22 report Apple Computer: New iMac Coming? we like the idea of a headless iMac. Why require a PC owner to buy a new monitor to get a Mac? Selling just the system unit would cut significantly the cost to switch." Milunovich noted that the iMac could cannibalize the eMac product line, but that the impact would be "modest" because of the targeted education demographic for the eMac.
Apple to grow music biz
Analyst Steve Lidberg of Pacific Crest Securities says that a flash-memory music player, and new initiatives in 2005, should help Apple grow its music business to more than $5 billion by 2006. Lidberg writes says that he expects Apple to "introduce a flash-based iPod and wireless accessories and new types of audio content to monetize is customer base," Lidberg said, adding that he expects 2005 to be a "strong year" for Apple to set up new partnerships to bring iTunes to more devices," according to CBSMarketWatch.com. Analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research also said that introduction of a lower-cost iPod based on flash-technology could double Apple's opportunities in the digital player market.
Monster iCruze for iPods
Monster has introduced the iCruze, a new device for helping users connect their iPod to a compatible car stereo. The unique interface can directly connect an iPod to a stock car stereo using its CD changer port. Monster also says that certain Alpine brand aftermarket car stereos are also compatible. Users can control their iPod using the built-in CD player controls on the car stereo (as well as on the steering wheel, if present). The small device fits in the dash behind the stereo and has no wires to cut or splice; it charges the iPod, and also automatically turns the iPod on/off with the car stereo as well as remember the currently playing song when powered off. Monster also offers an iCruze LCD Display for an convenient larger view of the song title and artist information--similar to that of the iPod display. The Display, which puts the iPod into docking mode when connected (disabling the controls), plugs into the iCruze and includes 2 meter cable for flexible wiring options. It will ship early this year for $250.
Panther, Xserve awards
Apple today won two awards in InfoWorld's 2005 Technology of the Year honors. The awards recognize significant technologies of the past year that "promise to make the greatest impact on enterprise IT strategies as well as the products that best exemplify the implementation of those technologies." Products reviewed by InfoWorld's Test Center during the previous year are eligible to win, while the final selections are made by InfoWorld's Test Center analysts and editors. Apple's Mac OS X 10.3 Panther won in the "Best Operating System' category," the Xserve G5 won in the 'Best Server Hardware" category.
Free concert at MWSF
IDG World Expo today announced "Macworld After Dark," a concert, sponsored by Playlist, featuring The Jackie Greene Band. The concert will take place at Moscone Center on Wednesday, January 12 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and is open, without charge, to all registered attendees of Macworld Expo (January 10-14). Several music stars will also perform in the exhibit hall in front of the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a unique non-profit state-of-the-art mobile recording and multimedia studio. The concerts are without charge for all registered attendees and include Spin Doctors (Jan. 11 at 3:00 p.m.), Nitty (Jan. 12 at 3:00 p.m.), Fatty Koo (Jan. 12 at 4:30 p.m.), Meleni (Jan. 13 at 3:00 p.m.) and John Legend (Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m., Jan. 14 at 2:30 p.m.).
Bravo II includes Mac app
Primera Technology today announced it is now shipping the Bravo II Disc Publisher with new software for mastering and designing templates. Bravo II now includes CharisMac Engineering's Discribe 5.2 Mastering Software and graphic design templates for Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator, offering users a complete solution for producing CD/DVDs. The software is now available at no additional cost to all new purchases of Bravo II Disc Publisher, which is designed for hands-free, automated production of up to 100 CDs or DVDs per job. An advanced robotic mechanism is used to transport discs into the built-in 52x CD-R recorder ($2200) or optional Pioneer combo DVD R/CD-R recorder ($2700). After recording, discs are transported to the integrated printer and printed in full-color at up to 4800 dpi print resolution.
Limited upside to AAPL?
The growth in PC sales will shrink from 14.5% to 10.1%, but Apple's product diversification should help the company in 2005, but the stock's upside is difficult to predict after a 200 percent increase in 2004: "Apple, of course, is becoming less of a computer company every minute -- and is therefore less vulnerable to the ups and downs of the PC market. In its fourth quarter, for example, sales of Apple's hit iPod music player and related services such as iTunes accounted for 27% of the company's total revenue. In the December quarter, when consumer-electronics items top holiday shopping lists, the iPod will contribute 32% of the company's revenue and about 26% of gross profit." The article notes that several analysts recently downgraded the stock because the "massive run in 2004".
One-touch backup drive
IOGEAR has launched its 3.5-inch Combo Tri-Select ION Drive, which offers automatic backup based on user settings using its Tri-Select technology. The external device offers both FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 compatibility and extremely high data transfer rates of up to 400 Mbps (FireWire, 2 ports) and 480 Mbps (USB 2.0, single port). Its Tri-Select backup technology allows multiple types of backup settings to be designed for computers. Once the Tri-Select button has been set up, it will automatically backup a single file or an entire directory as selected by the user. It features drives with 7200 rpm mechanisms; it is available in 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, 200GB, 250GB, and a case-only model and requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later. Each model includes an AC adapter.
Apple absent from CES
Apple is one of the notable companies absent from CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, as the electronics industry battles for the living room, according to CNET News.com: "CES starting on Thursday in Las Vegas, Nev., will set the agenda of what's in store in 2005 for the digital home-owner--from ultra-high-definition television screens to music and video recorders and other networked appliances. The four-day conference, the high-tech industry's largest annual gathering in the United States, will draw 120,000 technologists and retailers for a vast display of devices, from 102-inch-wide flat-panel TVs--the world's biggest--to postage-stamp-size hard-disks for music players or phones." Apple, however, is expected to unveil new products at Macworld Expo next week.
New Brother laser printers
Brother today launched a new series of personal laser printers, including the ultra-compact HL-2040 and HL-2070N. The HL-2040 ($150) is the successor to the HL-1440 personal laser printer, offering faster print speeds and a space-saving design which it says is almost 40% smaller. The HL-2070N ($230) also features the same small footprint and print speeds, but also adds a built-in Ethernet print server for sharing on home and home office wired or wireless networks. The new models will be available starting in January 2005. Both laser printers offer speeds of 20ppm, up to 2400 x 600 dpi resolution, a 250-sheet input paper capacity, and USB 2.0 connectivity. The HL-2040 features a two-tone gray color scheme as well as 8MB memory capacity, while network-ready HL-2070N also adds PCL 6 emulation, a built-in Ethernet network interface, 16MB of standard memory, and a dark charcoal, two-tone color scheme.
Subscription music model
Many of Apple's digital music rivals are pushing the music subscription model rather than the pay-per-song model offered by the iTunes Music Store: "Chris Gorog is convinced that people won't continue to pay $1 a song for online music.That is despite Apple's string of recent achievements, including 200 million songs sold at its iTunes Music Store, and nearly 4 million iPod digital music players moved into consumers' homes in 2004. Gorog runs Apple rival Napster, which offers digital downloads and a music subscription deal. Consumers get unlimited access to listen to 700,000 songs for $9.95 monthly. The hitch is that to move songs onto a portable digital device or to a CD costs extra: $1 a song. That's one of the reasons digital music fans have not taken to the subscription model -- also offered by Real Networks' Rhapsody -- in a big way. But Gorog thinks that will change next year. And he has other heavyweights such as Yahoo and Microsoft in his corner."
iPod boom helps reseller
Computer Stores Northwest is one of the independent resellers also benefiting from the iPod boom as the popular digital music player has created awareness and demand for other Apple products, according to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "But another move by Apple hasn't been as much of a boon for the independent reseller. As part of its expansion into the retail business, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker in 2003 opened an official Apple Store at University Village, a short drive from the Seattle Mac Store. Anderson acknowledged that the effects of that competition have been noticeable in certain parts of the business. At the same time, the Mac Stores have been able to differentiate themselves with more in-depth training and classes, greater attention to third-party accessories, and other services either not available or not as much of a focus at the official company stores."
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