Apple Primed for Surge on Revamped Hardware Lines
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Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) World Wide Developers Conference is in the rear-view mirror, and risk-averse traders are using post-show results to make big moves.
In a general consensus among both insiders and analysts, the overriding result is that Apple will be refreshing several hardware lines. From the iMac (last update in Oct 2011) to the MacBook Pro (last major update in Feb 2011) and everything in between - the tech world's equivalent of the Paparazzi have been searching every crevice looking for update proof and got it.
Apple committed to refreshing current laptop lines with better processors, improved displays and thinner dimensions. The reason being that a Mac product refresh would help stoke the fire ahead of the back-to-school buying rush and the upcoming, much-hyped Windows 8 launch in October 2012.
Insiders and investors have been clamoring for some fresh iTV news or even just a sneak peak into the next-gen iPhone with a rumored, taller 16:9 screen, but we might just have to wait again on these juicy nuggets to get officially verified down the road. With iTV announcements still a conference or two away, the big news is AirPlay mirroring, a new Mountain Lion feature that can stream what's on your Mac to your HDTV via Apple TV, is a likely architectural prelude to the integrated iTV offering on tap.
With so much emphasis on physical products, many Apple followers seem to completely discount the importance of Apple's increasing software dominance. With robust iOS and iCloud integration getting better and better and with OS X Mountain Lion growing up, analysts predict that Apple's operating system market share will soar. Updated predictions based on current momentum depict Apple snaring 21% of all platform market share later this year - up from just 11% in 2009 vs. Android and Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows each with 35%. Indeed, 40% of Mac users already use Mountain Lion.
In addition to keeping a trained eye on Apple, it's important for investors to keep abreast of other technology innovations happening outside of the house that Steve built. As luck would have it, these investors don't have much to worry about as recent assessments from technology showcases like E3, Computex and Cableshow trade shows have not turned up any real threats to the glowing fruit. In other words, fringe competitors like Sony and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) continue to release new products, yet nothing that Apple isn't entirely capable of outdoing with a few refreshes.
Backing up the Apple hardware refresh claims being spouted from just about every corner of the Web, proof of new part numbers and prices that have surfaced online. The new part numbers and prices are certainly encouraging and additional details are being release by trusted Apple insider and analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI. Kuo has been a consistently reliable source for breaking Apple stories before their official announcements.
The new MacBook Air will be priced starting at $999 for the basic 13-inch model. The notebook will not have an optical disc drive, and it will be available with either a solid-state drive or a traditional hard-disk drive. This new MacBook will reportedly be lighter and slimmer than the MacBook Pro, with equal computing power. Apple unveiled its new 15-inch MacBook, priced at $1,799 with a hard-disk drive. It will feature a Retina display with a tapered-edge design, as well as a larger battery capacity.
Amidst the recent MacBook Pro chatter, many-supply chain insiders had been predicting a budget MacBook Air in Q3 2012, pricing the entry-level ultraportable at just $799. This pricing strategy would be completely in line with expectations as a low cost, Apple-branded competitor to Intel's (NASDAQ: INTC) popular ultrabook offerings. Exact specifications for the new, budget model haven't been suggested, though the Cupertino company's target is clear: second-gen ultrabooks running Ivy Bridge processors from names like ASUS, Acer, Lenovo and Sony.
Apple's current point of entry for OS X computing has been the $999 11.6-inch MacBook Air. Beneath that lies only the iPad - which can be paired with a hardware keyboard accessory to achieve some level of online computing prowess for under $700 depending on specifications and connectivity options. From its vantage point, Google's 7 inch Nexus tablet is disruptive on the tablet price front. Thus, it's no secret that Intel and other hard charging PC makers are sprinting towards new lines of affordable ultrabooks that look curiously similar to the aluminum clad Apple laptops we've come to expect as a design benchmark. If the latest version of Windows continues to make strides to achieve a more Apple-like existence - let's hope that Apple continues to have aces up its sleeve.
Still, given Intel and its PC OEM partners are aiming for $799 and below ultrabooks, particularly with the arrival of Windows 8, an OS X machine instantly recognizable as a notebook makes no small amount of sense for Apple.
StockCroc1 has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Intel, and Microsoft and is short Sony (ADR) and has the following options: long JAN 2013 $22.00 calls on Sony (ADR). Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.