What exactly is next for Apple's (AAPL) - Get Report product lineup? What blockbuster product announcement is next for the Cupertino, Calif., computer company? Speculators are going wild today trying to figure out exactly what is going on.
This is all because of Apple's earning call late Monday afternoon. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said the numbers were great for the last quarter but warned about a "future product transition" as a big reason that Apple expected slightly worse profit numbers in the fourth quarter.
Apple's stock dropped $14.13 (or 8.5%) to $152.16 afterhours Monday night.
Apple's Got Something Up Its Sleeve
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But what is that "future product transition" all about? Is there a mystery product that Apple is currently working on that will once again revolutionize the industry? Oppenheimer actually hinted that there was a "state-of-the-art new product that our competitors just aren't going to be able to match."
No other hints were given.
Bloggers today have all sorts of ideas what could be next from Apple. Some are guessing (and that's all there is to go on at this point) that we might see a new, and/or cheaper Mac Book Air laptop. Others are speculating that new laptops will sport the latest
Centrino 2 processors (dual-core for MacBooks and quad-core for MacBook Pros), which also might come with built-in broadcast TV tuners.
Still others think there's something cool being added to the Apple TV box that will take advantage of MacBook, iPhone and iTunes capabilities.
But, I think we're going to see a new product based on the very cool -- and very successful -- iPhone interface.
Apple has already proved that it can successfully monetize most of its iPhone breakthroughs in another hand-held, noncellular product -- the iPod Touch. But what about the next size up?
What about (and I hate to call it this) an iPhone-based tablet computer? Physically, it could be a little larger. Users might be able to input via a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse product if they don't like an on-screen keyboard. They would be able to control all the music from their iPods, computers, Apple TV boxes which would communicate with iTunes and operate through Apple's clever AirPort Wi-Fi system.
Think about it: It's not only good for consumers (it would tie a number of bleeding-edge Apple products together and bring the brand solidly into the living/family room) but if priced right, it could be an answer to all those new Linux/
-based mini-laptops that are all the rage.
It would also be a product that would let Apple control the environment and the entire experience -- something that the company's founder likes very much.
Plus, all of this would come together just as this country's analog TV system switches to digital broadcasting next February. This could begin to give cable and satellite companies fits if it catches on.
Tablet computers are like a dirty word to the industry. Microsoft and many, many others have failed to change that perception. If anyone can, it's Apple.
And, if Apple bases it on its proven winners, the iPhone and iPod Touch, I wouldn't be surprised if next year's earnings results reflected a boost in everyone's confidence.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.