Apple iTV, iPhone 5 and new MacBook Air cast a ‘dark shadow over CES’

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show had record attendance and a number of terrific products unveiled during various CES press conferences should make waves when they hit the market later this year. A dark cloud loomed over the show, however, and the staggering number of ultra-slim notebook PCs and voice-controlled HDTVs on display in Las Vegas last week made it clear that companies are gearing up to do battle with one competitor in particular. Read on for more.

In a note to investors sent Tuesday, Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley notes that despite the company’s absence from the CES 2012 show floor, Apple’s presence was absolutely felt.

“While Apple did not attend CES, its leading market position was evident as competitors introduced new Ultrabook and LTE smartphone products targeted to compete with Apple’s strong product portfolio,” Walkley wrote. “Despite increasing competition, we believe Apple is well positioned for a very strong C2012 driven by new products, including the pending refresh of MacBook Air (featuring a new 15-inch model), the iPad 3 launching this spring, the LTE iPhone 5 likely mid-year, and potentially Apple TV exiting C2012.”

Apple is widely expected to launch an iOS-powered HDTV product later this year that replaces the standard remote control with voice commands courtesy of Siri, Apple’s digital personal assistant. Earlier reports suggested that Apple will launch its new “iTV” this summer, but Walkley claims the Cupertino, California-based company will release its first television toward the end of 2012.

Walkley also sees Apple launching an “iPhone 5″ with embedded 4G LTE connectivity toward the middle of 2012, though we have been told that a redesigned next-generation iPhone won’t hit the market until this coming fall.

Regarding ultrabooks, the analyst sees PC vendors struggling while new MacBook Air laptops from Apple, including a 15-inch model, help Apple gain PC share in 2012. “While Ultrabooks grabbed many of the headlines at CES, we view Ultrabooks as a Windows alternative to MacBook Air,” Walkley wrote in his research note on Tuesday. “We believe Apple will continue to gain PC market share by launching a refreshed MacBook Air line in the coming weeks, including a new 15-inch version. Further, we believe Ultrabooks at proposed $700-$900 prices will struggle to sell versus competitively priced new MacBook products, as we believe Apple will continue to benefit from its supply chain advantages such as dominant share of the global NAND flash market given growing volumes for iPhones and iPads.”

Walkley reiterated his Buy rating on Apple stock with a price target of $560.

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