Apple 2.0

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Apple Q&A: Netbooks, gift cards and Chinese iPhones

November 25, 2008: 1:38 PM ET

Gene MunsterGene Munster, Piper Jaffray's top Apple (AAPL) analyst, published one of his trademark "unanswered questions" reports early Tuesday morning. You can read the full text -- with all 12 questions and answers -- at AppleInsider here. Or you can read the bullet points:

  • A netbook in 2009. Although Steve Jobs has said the company "doesn't do cheap," Munster thinks Apple could do well this year with a 11" MacBook Air priced between $800 and $1,000. He doesn't expect a tablet Mac before 2010.
  • The $630 iPhone. That's how much Munster believes Apple is getting, on average, from the carriers. He also believes that with falling component prices, Apple could lower its price to its partners by as much as $150 over the next six months and still maintain its profit margins.
  • An iPhone in China. The phone's international rollout is "still in its early stages," says Munster, and he expects an announcement from one of the two big Chinese carriers (China Mobile, with 550 million subscribers, or China Unicom, with 128 million) within the next month or two.
  • New iPhones. "Most investors believe the iPhone hardware will be the same throughout 2009 as it is today; we disagree," writes Munster. Quoting Steve Jobs' October remarks about not leaving a "price umbrella" below today's iPhone, Munster is looking for new phones on both the low (below $199) and high (above $299)¬†end.
  • The shrinking iPod. Munster is modeling a 12% contraction in unit sales year to year for fiscal 2009. That said, he believes the iPod remains a key "entry point into the Apple device ecosystem."
  • iPhone gift cards. Because you now must activate new iPhones in store rather than at home, it's hard to buy an iPhone as a gift. Munster suggests that Apple may take a page from AT&T's (T) book and offer iPhone gift cards this holiday season. UPDATE: Reader Warren from Buffalo points out that Apple already offers iPhone gift cards.
  • The last Apple bull. Despite the economic downturn and the fact that Apple was trading for $79.55 earlier this week --¬†almost a two-year low -- Munster is stubbornly sticking with his 2009 target of $250 a share.
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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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