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For Apple, Services the Next Big 'Thing'

Stocks in this article: AAPL

(Adds share price)

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Apple's (AAPL) next big thing may not be a thing, after all.

In his upgrade of Apple on Friday, UBS analyst Maynard Um becomes the most recent analyst to speculate on Apple's plans to create so-called enhanced services -- a media network that could deliver music, video, email and social network connections to Apple devices.

Without an obvious successor to the popular iPhone, there have been concerns that Apple's terrific winning streak may one day end. The upcoming Tablet device, while promising in terms of bold advances in touchscreen technology, lacks the broad market appeal that mobile phones and notebook computers enjoy.

One opportunity for Apple is an expansion of its Apple TV and iTunes, media store model, which could potentially link all Apple devices on an all-Apple network.

Analysts, including Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, have pondered the possibility of a new Apple TV DVR media hub device that would sync with iPhones, iPods, Macs and TVs.

But UBS' Um takes that thought a little further speculating that Apple may be building its own network data center similar to Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry network. Similar to how RIM manages a delivery system for email and software upgrades, Apple could manage a much broader media network.

In theory, the network would "be the foundation for a service that provides seamless access and mobility of digital content across all its products, at any time, and from any place," Um writes.

The service takes aim at the established media distributors like cable shops Comcast (CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Cablevision (CVC) and the telcos AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ) and Sprint (S). If the assumptions are true, the network would directly connect Apple device users to their media libraries on iTunes, as well as allow them to share pictures, emails and updates directly with other Apple users.

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