New iPod Touch and MacBooks coming soon, analysts say

IDG News Service |  Personal Tech, Apple, iPod touch

Apple is likely to announce a redesigned iPod Touch and slimmer MacBooks at an event in September, an analyst said Monday.

The announcements -- scheduled ahead of the U.S. holiday shopping season -- could include price drops for the iPod Touch and MacBook laptops. Starting prices for the iPod Touch could fall to US$199 from $299 and for MacBooks starting prices could drop to $999 from $1,099.

The new MacBooks will be slimmer, might have exteriors made of aluminum instead of plastic and could also have newly designed keyboards, said Mike Olson, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co., which last week released a research note about the upcoming announcements.

The design of the iPod Touch will be tweaked to resemble Apple's new iPhone 3G, which was announced in June. iPhone 3G is just a hair thicker than its predecessor at 0.48 inches (12.3 millimeters), while the previous version was 0.46 inches.

At the same price, the storage capacity of the iPod Touch could increase, or the same capacity could be offered at a lower price, Olson said in the interview.

Apple has held a special event in September to launch new iPods for the past three years, said last week's research note, which was written by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. This year, Apple might announce increased capacity of iPods, including the Shuffle and Nano brands, but the products won't be redesigned, Munster wrote.

Munster was cautious in predicting the launch of another ultraportable Mac this year, which has been rumored to be under development. Apple already has the MacBook Air, which was launched at the start of this year.

"We currently believe this is more likely a 2010 event. Rather, we believe a smaller version of the 13-inch MacBook Air is likely in the 2009 timeframe," Munster wrote.

Over the next few years Apple will also use technology developed for the iPhone in its laptops, including touchscreen-based multitouch technology, Munster wrote.

"Apple is clearly leveraging its technology portfolio from the iPhone to improve the Mac experience as well, and we believe Apple will continue to add multitouch gestures to its notebooks."

The company will replace the trackpad multitouch technology on MacBooks with touchscreen multitouch technology in the next two to three years as the technology matures, Munster wrote.

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