A giant solar array? An huge fuel cell facility? A second 500,000 sq. ft. data center?
I'm not sure I buy the main reason Jefferies' Peter Misek gave today for raising his Apple (AAPL) price target to $800 from $699: His "increased confidence" Apple is going to release the much-rumored iTV in the fourth quarter of 2012.
My own confidence that Apple is going to get into the television manufacturing business is roughly equivalent to my confidence that it's preparing to market a 7.85-inch iPad. Which is to say, I haven't got a clue.
But I think Misek is definitely on to something when he talks about the big changes underway at the site of Apple's data center in Maiden, N.C.
"Based on our analysis of building permits and satellite images," he writes, "we believe Apple is set to double the size of its already massive North Carolina data center. Apple has two adjacent tracts of land in Maiden, North Carolina. Also, Apple has filed to build a 20MW solar array, the largest end-user owned array in the U.S., and a 5MW fuel cell facility."
Why am I a believer? For one thing, I've seen the pictures, both the on-the-ground photograph printed Tuesday in the Charlotte Observer, and the "satellite" (they're actually shot from airplanes) images on Google Maps. (Click here to monitor the progress.)
Moreover, unlike its plans for future products -- about which it stays famously mum -- Apple actually talks about this stuff. See, for example, the Apple and the Environment report posted on its website in February:
Our goal is to run the Maiden facility with high percentage renewable energy mix, and we have major projects under way to achieve this — including building the nation's largest end user-owned solar array and building the largest nonutility fuel cell installation in the United States. (emphasis ours)
This fuel cell facility is a big deal. According to the Observer, its 24 modules will generate 4.8 megawatts at an enormously expensive estimated cost of $6.7 million per megawatt.
"That's a huge vote of confidence in fuel cells," James Warner, policy director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association in Washington, told the Observer.
One of the mysteries surrounding the 500,000-square foot server farm Apple (AAPL) has famously constructed in a small North Carolina town called Maiden -- besides its ultimate purpose -- is why it didn't show up on Google Earth.
We knew what it looked like, thanks to the local Fox TV affiliate, a trespassing photographer and a local real estate agent who conducted a couple of video flybys that ended up on MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jun 1, 2011 6:46 AM ET
Inside this nondescript warehouse, perched along Oregon's Columbia River, computer networks respond to millions of commands instantaneously. Search for "pants size 12" or "mermaid parade," and your results will race through a Google data center like this -- and then right back to you. How much does it cost now to build a complete data center? Roughly $479 million. --Tara Moore
7.5 million is the number of data centers around the MOREMay 23, 2011 5:00 AM ET
The new facility in Santa Clara will grow to 3/4 the size of Apple's North Carolina data center
In what could be a new sign that Apple (AAPL) is stepping up its efforts in so-called cloud computing, Data Center Knowledge reported Wednesday that the company has signed a long-term lease for several megawatts of critical computing power from a data center under construction in Santa Clara, Calif., less than 10 miles MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 18, 2011 3:56 PM ET
The local Fox TV affiliate finally sent a camera crew to the site
Did someone declare April to be National Visit Your Data Center Month and forget to send us the memo?
First there was Robert Scoble's breathless photo tour of Facebook's new facilities in Prineville, Oregon. Then Google's (GOOG) scary video about the security surrounding its Goose Creek, S.C., server farm, where it scans employees' eyeballs and crushes misbehaving hard drives MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 23, 2011 7:07 AM ET
Facebook's new cheap, fast, green data center is really a free blueprint for companies that want to chip away at Google's computing advantage. Including Facebook.
By Dan Mitchell, contributor
The data center business, as it currently exists, is a little too much like "Fight Club" (The first rule of servers: you do not talk about our servers) says Facebook's Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations.
For that reason, Facebook will share the designs for its MOREApr 8, 2011 12:32 PM ET
An analyst imagines everything it might be when -- and if -- it opens this spring
Among the people who follow Apple (AAPL) closely, the massive server farm the company is constructing in Maiden, N.C., has achieved near mythic status. It has become the answer to every unanswered question about Apple's troubled online strategy, from what Steve Jobs was thinking when he green-lighted Ping to how MacBook Air users are supposed MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 23, 2011 6:13 AM ET
I wasn't even aware they still used tape backups.
This particular Gmail outage is proving to be particularly bad, at least for the .02% of Gmail users affected. However, it appears the end in sight for Google. In a post on the Gmail Blog Google (GOOG) reveals that it has had to go to tape backups and expect to finish restoring accounts in the coming hours.
To protect your information from these unusual bugs, MORESeth Weintraub - Feb 28, 2011 10:36 PM ET
Its Maiden, N.C., data center, said to be doubling in size, is still not visible on Google Maps
How is that the only photographic evidence that Apple (AAPL) is building a giant data center in western North Carolina is a video fly-over shot eight months ago by a Charlotte real estate agent and a snapshot that appeared in the Hickory Daily Record three months earlier?
[UPDATE: There's a new flyover! Shot by MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 27, 2010 11:01 AM ET
|Apple set for showdown on Capitol Hill over corporate taxes|
|Why I'm protesting against Gap over Bangladesh|
|The biggest merger you didn't hear about today|
|Yahoo buys Tumblr, promises to not 'screw it up'|