The next generation iPhone is widely expected to be the main attraction when Chief Executive Steve Jobs takes the stage at Apple’s developers’ conference next 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.
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 Inc’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.
A new iPhone may be a catalyst for Apple stock, which has risen 50 percent over the past three months, to a close of $186.10 on Monday. 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 Monday to $225 share from $195, citing strong demand for its laptops and sales of up to 16.5 million iPhones next year.
There is also speculation Apple could bow to a cellphone industry practice and offer a subsidized iPhone, an arrangement where AT&T could kick in a couple hundred dollars to make the devices more affordable. AT&T already gives Apple a slice of the monthly service fees it gets from iPhone subscribers.