Is this the year that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) blows up the iPhone -- in a good way?

Several reports this week had the market darling taking the iconic smartphone in several different directions. The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is working on a smaller, cheaper iPhone nano. Digi Times writes that Apple is considering a larger 4-inch screen, with Taiwan's website hearing that an iPhone with a physical slide-out keyboard may be in the works.

Apple is always a hot topic in the rumor mills, but it's strange to see the speculation moving in so many directions. A smaller iPhone that would cost Apple half as much to make can be subsidized by wireless companies down to being a freebie. It would also open up the iOS platform to cheaper carriers. In short, it would give Apple an easier time competing against the onslaught of Android devices. An iPhone with an actual keyboard would help it win over Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) buffs who love their BlackBerry devices.

Apple historically refreshes its iPhone line in June, so we're now just months away from realizing how much of this chatter is real.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) did it! The computing giant posted an adjusted profit of $0.53 a share, blowing away Wall Street's target of $0.37 a share. Dell was late to the netbook, tablet, and smartphone forms of modern computing, but at least it's making up for lost time on the bottom line.
  • Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) is trying to move in where (Nasdaq: AMZN) is absent. The superstore chain is hoping to take advantage of Amazon's dismissal of lead-generating affiliates in some states where it faces sales-tax collections. Barnes & Noble is reaching out to those website operators and bloggers, pitching's affiliate program.
  • (Nasdaq: CTRP) posted better-than-expected quarterly results, but it turned off investors with unusually low near-term guidance. China's leading travel portal is historically conservative in its guidance, but it's rarely been this low.
  • Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) delivered a strong quarter once you back out one-time charges. It's not turning down the volume knob, either: The satellite-radio operator expects to add another 1.4 million net subscribers in 2011.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

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