Apple to debut new iPods, iPhone successor?

Apple stock rose sharply last week following company-stoked rumors the computing giant will release as many as four new iPod devices at a "special event" scheduled to take place in San Francisco Wednesday. Industry speculation says Apple will debut a video-enabled iPod nano, a full-screen iPod and a new multimedia mobile phone to follow on the recent release of the iPhone. Moreover, invitations to the Apple event include the statement "The beat goes on," which some commentators noted were also the last words in the Beatles' final press release, generating buzz that the Fab Four's catalog finally will make its digital debut via Apple's iTunes music platform.

Outside of introducing new colors to its iPod shuffle device, Apple has not updated its iPod roster since fall 2006, at which time it premiered the redesigned iPod shuffle alongside a slimmed-down incarnation of the mid-range iPod nano. With the flagship iPod remaining unchanged for two years, sales have grown stagnant--in the first quarter, Apple reported diminished year-over-year iPod sales for the first time. Investors nevertheless are bullish on the promise of a new iPod release: "The almost certain launch of a new family of iPods next Wednesday…creates another opportunity for upside in the back half of the year and provides another reason to own Apple shares," writes Goldman Sachs' David Bailey.

For more on the Apple buzz:
- read this San Jose Mercury News article

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