It's been a trying summer for tech investors, but next month will hopefully offer answers to some scintillating questions.

Let's dive right in, for those scoring at home.

1. What's up Apple's sleeve?
Couch potatoes were buzzing earlier this month, on rumors that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) will be introducing a new Apple TV set-top box in September, based on the iOS operating system that has made its iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch gadgets mainstream hits.

A Sept. 7 date even floated around, until Apple sent out invitations for a media event this Wednesday -- with an acoustic guitar as a graphic.

Oops! A guitar would hint at a refresh of its iPod line, though one can never underestimate the power of Steve Jobs to "one more thing" his way into an updated set-top box that may actually sell briskly this time.

We still can't undersell the iPod update. Earlier this summer, British retailer John Lewis held a presentation for its employees, detailing what its suppliers are telling it about the beefed-up iPod touch that's likely to hit the market in September.

Dual cameras, gaming-friendly upgrades, and access to FaceTime video chat are some of the head-turning features. It would be a shock to see Apple go all iPhone 4 on the lowly iPod touch, but even a single camera would be an evolutionary improvement.

2. Where's Howard Stern going?
During its second-quarter call, Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) announced that Howard Stern would likely be revealing his plans before the satellite radio giant's next conference call. Sirius has historically held its call in early November, so one should expect an announcement in either September or October.

This is going to be an important announcement, since Sirius has dramatically grown its subscriber base during the term of Stern's five-year contract that expires in December. Stern's impact is largely unquestioned, though one has to wonder what the 19.5 million subscribers at Sirius and XM will do if Stern returns to terrestrial radio, retires, or tries his hand at web-based premium broadcasts.

3. Who gets 3Par?
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) seem like two desperate barflies trying to sweet talk the only eligible bachelorette into going home with them. No offense to 3Par (NYSE: PAR), but there are other data-storage fish in the sea.

The bidding war between the two PC giants is as epic as it is unexpected.

It's easy to see why Dell would want some serious skin in the cloud-storage space. Michael Dell is under the gun, with shareholders clamoring for change. An acquisition to jumpstart growth is an obvious way to save his hide -- or at least to buy him precious time before the pitchforks, torches, and battering rams force his exit.

What's HP doing here, though? It still has EDS and Palm lodged in its digestive tract. Does it see 3Par as an opportunity worth overpaying for, or is it simply a matter of keeping it away from Dell's hungrier mouth? As of this morning, HP is the one holding the highest bidding card.

This saga continues.

4. Will tech stocks be winners or losers in the third quarter?
The market's been wobbly since its springtime highs, and that's evident in the 4% slide in shares of Apple so far this quarter. Another blowout quarter and momentum across its product lines haven't helped.

However, other tech bellwethers are holding up better than Apple.


Share price on June 30

Share price on Aug. 27






Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)




Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU)




Google has inched higher, despite recent concerns about market share and missing Wall Street's profit target for the first time in nearly two years. Baidu has been able to pad to the heady gains it amassed earlier this year when it seemed as if Google was bowing out of China, even though Big G is still a presence in the world's most populous nation.

Tech investors will be hoping that September will be a sprint to the quarterly finish line. As long as the economy keeps sending mixed signals, this race is really too early to call.

Do you have predictions for any of the four questions raised? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Baidu and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Google, which is also a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz hopes it's a September to remember -- and not dismember. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the   Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, and it knows that roaming charges weren't billed in one day.