Wed, September 03, 2008
Sci-Tech > Technology

Apple's "Rock" event expected to unveil new iPods

2008-09-03 06:38:44 GMT2008-09-03 14:38:44 (Beijing Time)

Customers queue to buy Apple's new 3G iPhone in Tokyo in July 2008. China Mobile, the country's largest handset operator, is in the final stages of talks with Apple to launch the iPhone in China, the world's largest mobile phone market.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is expected to unveil new iPod music players -- and possibly price cuts -- at a media event next Tuesday but may not launch a long-awaited update to its MacBook laptop computers until a later date.

Apple, which also makes iPhone mobile devices, e-mailed reporters an invitation to a September 9 event entitled "Let's Rock," which has an image of a man jumping in the air while listening to an iPod, with the words "playing soon."

No further details were available from the company, which often sends provocative invitations to events that end up being product launches. Creating an allure around its brand has only helped drive Apple's market capitalization above Google Inc (GOOG.O), despite fears about the weak U.S. economy, which is slowing consumer purchases.

"It's got to be new iPods. That's 100 percent certain," Needham & Co analyst Charles Wolf said. "The only question I cannot answer is whether they will also do new MacBooks."

Apple shares fell $3.34, or 2 percent, to $166.19 on Tuesday.

Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andrew Hargreaves said the stock fall was likely due to bearish broad sentiment, rather than any disappointment related to the invitation. However, he expects any changes to the iPod to be incremental.

"I'm not expecting anything revolutionary," he said.

Apple's iPod line needs to be refreshed and the price of its iPod Touch models need to be cut because they have a higher starting price than its iPhone, which includes a mobile phone and other features not included in the device, said American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu.

The Internet-ready iPod touch starts at $299 in the United States, compared with $199 for the iPhone.

"Pricing needs to be adjusted downward toward market conditions. We are in a tougher economy. That's what makes most sense," Wu said.

Analysts said they still expect Cupertino, California-based Apple to refresh its MacBook notebook PCs soon.

Both Wolf and Hargreaves expect new MacBooks to be announced in the coming weeks, if not on Tuesday.

In July, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a statement the company was working on several new products to launch in the coming months, but executives declined to give details.

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