updated 02:40 pm EDT, Thu July 6, 2006
Top 10 Apple rumors
Apple's stock has suffered a setback after recent news coverage on the lawsuits over the possible mishandling of stock option grants between 1997 and 2001. The Cupertino-based company also faced criticisms following rumors alleging that new iPods were delayed. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster last week released a report to clients that examined and categorized the top ten Apple-related rumors, saying that Apple is "almost certain" to release Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard," which is slated for official introduction at the WWDC keynote speech to be held by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The new operating system is "almost as certain," with shipment expected in late 2006 or early 2007 (in time to compete with Microsoft's Vista operating system release). Munster also believes that Apple will likely offer a replacement for the Power Mac G5 -- which is rumored to be called the 'Mac Pro' based on recent filings -- at the company's annual WWDC developer conference in August.
Rumors of an iTunes Movie Store that would provide feature-length movies for downloads was edged out of "almost certain" with a score of nine by Munster, despite reports that suggest the industry is worried about dominating Apple influence. Munster is equally as certain about a possible Apple-branded iPod-based phone following recent trademark filings; the analyst believes Apple will inevitably explore the possibilities of iPod and mobile phone integration, but that the timing was up in the air.
The firm also says that a VOIP-enabled iChat 4.0 will probably be released with Mac OX 10.5 Leopard, in addition to a media hub that would stream video and audio content to a TV or home theater system.
Less likely are rumors of iTunes taking to skies with a service offered in airplanes suggested that Apple is in talks with providers of in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems to offer air travelers iTunes-branded audio content during their flights, but said that such a deal is likely a "stretch."
Rumors of an ultra-portable tablet computer with NAND-flash for improved boot-time were also called labeled unlikely despite patent filings for a Gestural User Interface by Apple.
The incorporation of advertisements into the iTunes Music Store is highly unlikely, according to Munster, because Apple would not "taint" iTunes with advertising.
The firm holds an "outperform" rating on Apple shares with a price target of $99.