Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is speeding up the roll-out of the iPhone 3G S, the company's next smartphone, about a month earlier than expected on June 19 after introducing the device at its annual love-in with developers in San Francisco on Monday.
Application and software junkies weren't the only ones applauding the handset, which boasts considerably faster processing speeds and a gamut of new features running on a brand new operating system. Analysts were equally enthused.
Peter Misek at Canaccord Adams said the early launch will steal the spotlight away from rival Palm Inc.'s (PALM) release of the Pre, out last Saturday. Initially short supply of Pres (whether by design or not) means a one to two week drought at stores now, said Mr. Misek. "In the meantime, we see Apple's marketing muscle and supply of new iPhones eating away at the hype Palm has been generating," he wrote in a note to clients on Monday.
He also said the release was negative for Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM) unless its primary U.S. carrier, Verizon (NYSE:VZ), responds with price cuts on the BlackBerry after Apple also cut its 8-gigabyte iPhone 3G model to $99 on Monday.
Mike Abramsky, analyst at RBC Capital Markets said in a note Tuesday morning the price cut will accelerate the iPhone penetration into the mid-market of wireless users while the new 3G S will "initiate an upgrade cycle" among existing iPhone users. "Hello, market share."
Canaccord Adam's Mr. Misek maintained his buy rating on APPL with $150 price target, while keeping is sell rating on Palm with the target price is under review. RBC's Mr. Abramsky rates Apple an Outperform with a price target of $165.