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With the way Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) not only straddles the burgeoning tablet and smartphone markets but also holds sway across the computer, home-entertainment, and media fields, the moves it makes can have an impact on the future of hundreds of companies. With that in mind, we're taking a look at the week in Apple news to see how the latest activity affects the Cupertino giant, its suppliers, and even its competitors.
Apple and Verizon back in the news
After a brief lull, the iPhone-to-Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) rumors came back to life this week, after The Wall Street Journal reported that Big Red will start carrying the phone early in 2011. With the need for a long lead time to produce the new components for a Verizon-capable iPhone, we can expect leaks about suppliers across the coming weeks. The obvious supplier to watch is Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) because of its expertise creating chipsets for Verizon's CDMA network.
An interesting subplot in the iPhone-to-Verizon saga is that other CDMA networks could benefit from Apple's creation of CDMA-compatible phones. Sprint (NYSE: S ) would also enter the picture, and there are already rumors that China Telecom is in talks to get a CDMA-powered iPhone.
Read more analysis on the reports that Apple will hook up with Verizon.
The iPad's unstoppable momentum continues
Earlier this week, aspiring tablet rival LG announced that it's pushing back plans to release a tablet this holiday season and is now focusing on a 2011 release. The main culprit is a buggy Android operating system that's not optimized for tablets. To address the problem, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) plans on releasing separate versions of Android for tablets and smartphones early next year.
Apple's decision to port its iOS from a smartphone to the iPad initially encountered a mixed reaction, but this news once again highlights how smooth the company's execution was. Apple's ability to release a largely bug-free tablet stands in stark contrast to the apparent difficulties Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) has had getting its PlayBook tablet to the market. Earlier this week, reports trickled out that because of problems with an initial design, RIM had to pull forward a second-generation tablet design. That move caused the company to miss out on releasing a tablet in time for the crucial holiday season.
LG's decision to hold off on its tablet debut because of Android bugs is bad news for Samsung, which still plans to roll out an Android-powered tablet in time for this holiday season. It's also bad news for chip companies such as NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) , which was counting on strong tablet sales to perk up its bottom line.
It looks as though the rush of competitive Android tablets will have to wait until the first quarter of next year. Meanwhile, Apple gets more time to continue building up a content advantage, as the number of iPad-specific apps exceeds 30,000 and the company gains more control and better pricing power over the supplies that tablet manufacturers provide. Semiconductor suppliers such as Cirrus Logic (Nasdaq: CRUS ) , which has a long relationship with Apple and scores a design win with the iPad, should continue to benefit as the tablet's momentum continues unabated through the holidays.
Read more about Android's tablet woes.
iPhone supplies appear healthy
After persistent shortages that threatened to crimp holiday-season sales, it appears that iPhone production is catching up with demand. Fool analyst Rex Moore checked with several stores and found wide availability. In addition, Apple's online store now lists a wait of just five to seven business days, down from a 21-day wait after the iPhone 4 launched.
Read more about iPhone availability.
In the week ahead, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) will unveil its completely revamped Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. But even though the company is spending around $1 billion on the launch, it has quite a bit of catching up to do. Not only have handset makers rallied around Android's free operating system, but Microsoft will also be in a deep content hole, with Android and Apple both sporting app stores with more than 100,000 applications. Watch for the strength of handset-manufacturer and wireless-provider support as an indicator of Microsoft's ability to gain a foothold here. (See the Droid as an example of how a targeted campaign from a wireless company can make a product.) Without sufficient help on those fronts, Microsoft's own national campaign will struggle to make a dent in the share of the current market leaders.
That's it for this week's Apple news. If you're searching for other opportunities in the mobile world, we've created a special report featuring a mobile giant that The Motley Fool has put its own money behind. Get instant access to this report.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet runs on the Android operating system. The PlayBook uses RIM's QNX operating system. The Fool regrets the error.