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.
For reasons unclear, the online store was not responding Wednesday morning
[UPDATE: As of 11:10 a.m. EST the store seems to be functioning properly. No new products that I can see. Never did get an explanation from Apple PR.]
[UPDATE 2: As of noon EST, the site seems to be misbehaving again. Still no word out of Apple.]
[UPDATE 3: Reader Mehdi Daoudi of Catchpoint Systems reports that the site had fully recovered MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 17, 2011 9:51 AM ET
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
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
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
Could Tuesday be the day Apple (AAPL) lights up on its billion-dollar server farm in North Carolina, launching its entry into cloud computing? That's what the big tease that appeared on the front page of Apple.com Monday morning suggests. [UPDATE: See One more time: The Beatles on iTunes? and Behind the Beatles-iTunes deal.]
Among the threads that seem to be coming together this week:
The 500,000-square-foot data center in Maiden, N.C. -- MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 15, 2010 11:01 AM 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
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