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Inventory shortages of Mac minis, iPod nanos, entry-level iMacs, and some MacBook and MacBook Pro Models are a sign to some that those products are likely to be refreshed soon. We can just imagine all the people who've been saving their ducats to buy a new Mac sitting in front of their old Macs praying. SpyMac commentator Michael Simon's money is on a splashy early summer release.
Meanwhile, a look at Apple's supply chain by American Technology Research seems to indicate that Apple may replace the hard drives in some video iPods with NAND flash memory - and, perhaps more tantalizing, develop a NAND flash memory-based sub-notebook computer.
Oppenheimer talks: Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer took a barrage of questions from inquisitive analysts and investors at a Morgan Stanley conference yesterday. Queries focused on - no surprise - the iPhone and Apple TV. When an analyst asked Oppenheimer point blank about barriers to adoption for the iPhone, he didn't miss a beat, answering with Dubya-like optimism, and turning the question on its head: "We believe the iPhone is a breakthrough product with outstanding features that are years ahead of anything in the market today." You can guess the rest ("It's three products in one!"). Needless to say, if Apple execs have any doubts about the iPhone's success, they're not going to share them publicly.
Other tidbits from the Apple CFO's Q&A with investors:
"We're going to continue to open stores at a measured and controlled pace. We expect to open 35 to 40 this year, with a little over 10 coming outside the United States."
"With the features and functionality and stability and security of Mac OS X, I don't really see Vista as a threat."
"Uh, no plans to do so." (In response to a question about whether Apple has plans to license OS X so that it could run on non-Apple PCs.)
"We've downloaded over 1.5 million copies of Boot Camp, which is in beta. We look forward to shipping the 1.0 release in Leopard. And I also believe that Parallels is a great choice for customers and people seem to be happy with that too."
iTunes competitor from across the pond? The BBC plans to launch a music player and, possibly, a pay-for-download service that will compete with iTunes. The BBC's iPlayer is a media player, people, not a fully built-out service like the iTunes Store is. Surely Apple isn't worried.
Apple and Orange buddy up: Orange, one of Europe's top mobile phone carriers, yesterday held an event to unveil its partnership strategy for 2007. The event included mention of a closer relationship between Orange and, well, Apple - including an offer bundling a MacBooks with broadband Internet service. Orange reps "couldn't comment" about any possibility that Orange would sell the iPhone.
Taking Final Cut Pro to a new dimension: In an interview with Gizmodo, an NVIDIA exec let it slip that Apple is eyeing its new Quadro FX video cards - possibly, as AppleInsider theorizes, to drive better performance in Final Cut Pro.
In other tech news: Japanese consumers are giving Vista a cold-ish shoulder, according to BCN, which analyzed point-of-sales data to determine that PC sales were up a mere 1.2 percent from the same month last year - a smaller-than-expected jump. Microsoft says Google is trampling on copyright protections with its book-scanning project. (But, of course, Microsoft is handling its book-scanning project the right way. So there!) And spam-weary Internet users everywhere can take solace in one Edinburgh man's successful lawsuit against a spammer. Take that! (But don't expect the volume of junk mail you receive to go down any time soon.)