Brian White: The Marco Polo of Apple analystsApril 9, 2013: 11:25 AM ET
Back from China with tales of iWatches, iTVs, fingerprint IDs and iPhones in three sizes.
FORTUNE -- I can never tell with analysts who go on extended walkabouts in the Far East if they're getting the inside dope from their contacts in Apple's (AAPL) supply chain or if they're just getting spun.
Case in point: Topeka Capital's Brian White, who has been filing dispatches from China and Taiwan for more than a week.
On Day 3 of his trip he came away from meetings with unnamed component suppliers convinced that Apple is getting ready to launch:
- A full-blown iTV ecosystem in time for the holidays that will "represents revolutionary innovation for the $100 billion LCD TV industry."
- An iPhone equipped with a fingerprint recognition ID system for efficient credit card purchases.
- An iWatch that can also read fingerprints.
On Day 6, the buzz was that China's mobile Internet is at an inflection point and "ready to explode."
On Day 7 he met with Huawei, ZTE and an unnamed tech supply chain company. According to Tuesday's note to clients, he walked away from those meetings persuaded that Apple will release the iPhone 5S this summer in at least two and possible three screen sizes.
"Essentially, we believe Apple is coming around to the fact that one size per iPhone release does not work for everyone and offering consumers an option has the potential to expand the Company's market share. As part of this summer launch, we believe a lower-priced iPhone will be released, as we have previously discussed; however, our research is now indicating that we should not expect the price to dip below US$300."
Finally, he passes along this tidbit about Apple's chief competitor in the smartphone market: "Despite the media hype around Samsung, our contact is confident that Samsung will ultimately lose the mobile device battle to Apple because he believes Apple's products are superior."
As I say, it's hard to tell if we're getting the inside story from these guys, or just getting spun.