June has arrived and for Apple fans and investors that means just one thing--a new iPhone.
The encore to the original iPhone, which launched nearly a year ago amid unprecedented industry buzz, is widely expected to be the main attraction when Chief Executive Steve Jobs takes the stage at Apple's developers' conference on Monday.
The new iPhone will be accompanied by support for corporate e-mail and a slate of new programs that could help boost sales of the devices, which sport a touch-sensitive screen, wireless Internet access and iPod-style media functions.
"The thing for Apple is to be able to leverage the iPhone for further innovation, or they run the risk of being the next (Motorola) RAZR, which was iconic in its own way, but for which innovation did not come fast enough," Shiv Bakhshi, director of mobility research for market research firm IDC.
Apple has declined to comment on what Jobs will announce, but analysts are betting he will show off a long-rumored phone running on a so-called 3G, or third-generation, network.
That would address one of the chief complaints about the current iPhone: the speed at which it calls up Web pages on AT&T's pokey EDGE network.
That is a particularly important concern in Europe, which is ahead of the United States in building new networks and where sales of the iPhone have lagged.
"I see 3G as important for the U.S. but essential for overseas," analyst Avi Greengart of Current Analysis said of a faster iPhone.
"It will be appreciated by technology enthusiasts and anybody who wants to get fast Web browsing outside the hot spots."
A new iPhone may be a catalyst for Apple stock. Investors have regained confidence that demand for the company's Macintosh computers and iPod media players is holding up amid fears the U.S. economy is headed for recession.
Thomas Weisel analyst Doug Reid raised his price target on Apple shares on last Monday to $225 share from $195, citing strong demand for its laptops and sales of up to 16.5 million iPhones next year.
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