Analyst Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities is touring Taipei, Taiwan, and China with his team this week. During meetings in Taipei, he said he has heard from suppliers that mobile digital TV and miniature embedded pico projectors are poised to become major selling features in future smartphones.
Though suppliers didn't specifically indicate that Apple plans to include such hardware in its next-generation iPhone, White said he believes the features would be "attractive" candidates for the "iPhone 5," expected to be released in June 2011.
"Watching local TV stations on a smartphone could be an attractive option for some consumers," White wrote in a note to investors. "Additionally, an embedded pico projector allows users to project a slide presentation or video on a wall or other surface in large size, which makes sense for the iPhone 5 in our view, as Apple seeks to expand the features in the next-generation iPhone."
In addition, White said he could see the features also appearing in a future hardware update to the iPad, allowing users to have an "even richer experience."
"It will be interesting to see what new features come with the iPhone 5," White wrote. "Maybe there is an angle that Apple could work into these potential new features as it relates to the iTunes store."
He also noted that iPad and Apple TV sales were recently boosted by Black Friday discounts. He has maintained a prediction of sales of 5.95 million iPads in the December quarter, unchanged by his overseas trip. he also said the Apple TV is "encouraging but will not move the needle" on the company's results.
Though the next-generation iPhone is likely more than six months away, speculation and rumors about Apple's anticipated smartphone update remains. In November, a report claimed that Apple was exploring "remote computing" technology with a near-field communications chip.
It was said that the alleged inclusion of an RFID chip would allow users to securely turn a nearby Mac into their own computer, complete with custom settings and personal passwords. Apple is also rumored to use RFID technology to turn the iPhone into an electronic wallet, allowing users to pay for and authorize transactions on their smartphone.