Apple boss Steve Jobs is just about guaranteed to get the gadget hounds baying when he says something along the lines of "2007 will be the most exciting year ever for new products", and the rumours, speculation and unadulterated, desperate lust is slopping around the internet like cheap rum on a hen-night. The scent of investment always brings the money-men running, and this time it's Prudential Equity Group analyst Jesse Tortora who has all of a sudden all the inside gossip on just what Apple will be bringing out of its electronic hat.
iPod-based cellphones seems a fair bet, and the potential for not one but two models - a consumer model with slim profile and mainly designed for music-loving fashionistas, together with a business oriented smartphone complete with keyboard, music and video facilities, as well as possibly wifi - has certainly tapped a seam of interest. T3 magazine recently highlighted the Nokia N95 as an example of just how much it's possible to pack into a cellphone, the message being that the gauntlet has very much been thrown down in challenge. Tortora is hedging his bets and saying that, to balance expectations of performance versus the limitations of battery life, Apple will release limited quantities as a kind of real-world experiment.
Next up is what many see as a natural progression of the iPod's evolution, especially given the multitude of patents the Cupertino lawyers have been throwing around lately - a touch-sensitive, widescreen iPod. As competing video-capable PMPs emerge and refine, and given video success has always been a mite unsteady in iPod Video reviews, Apple really needs to address this aspect before - heaven forbid! - they fall behind. Totora claims to have inside knowledge on widescreen iPod manufacturing ramping up in December this year, although he's careful to say that retail availability wouldn't be until first-quarter 2007.
Lest we forget, Apple make computers as well, and perhaps now is the time for a new addition to the range - a small-form portable, maybe even the long-awaited Apple Tablet? They'll be looking to leverage their media-friendly iTV, of course, perhaps with the high-speed wireless currently throttled back in the latest iMacs allowing for that holy grail of Hi-Def streaming from the iTunes Store.
Whatever emerges, expect it not to come cheap!