updated 10:45 am EDT, Fri August 6, 2010
Analyst sees new two new MacBook Air models
Apple is planning a huge ramp in production for a new MacBook Air that could suggest a much more mainstream design, BMO analyst Keith Bachman said today. An investigation into the supply chain suggested that two models are enroute in September that would ship in numbers far larger than for the existing Air. The researcher didn't yet have specs but believed the volume was a sign it would cost significantly less than the $1,499 Apple asks today.
Rumors of a new Air have relatively few details, but it's believed Apple is repositioning the ultraportable as a mainstream notebook. As part of the shift, it would shrink from a 13.3-inch display to 11.6 inches and would use Intel's newer ultra-low voltage Core iX processors, which while slower are inexpensive enough that they have reached inexpensive systems like the Acer TimelineX, which costs as little as $600 for a Core i3 system. It's not certain if Apple would keep its preferred NVIDIA graphics, though, as an NVIDIA licensing dispute with Intel would prevent the use of an integrated chipset like the GeForce 320M with anything newer than a Core 2 Duo processor.
The new Air, combined with holiday shipments, is expected to push Apple's notebook shipments alone to as much as 2.9 million by the end of the ongoing summer quarter. A figure as high raises the possibility of Apple selling over four million Macs in one quarter in light of new iMac updates giving a boost to desktops.
Bachman also claims to have knowledge of at least two new iPods also arriving in September. One would be the fourth-generation iPod touch, but the iPod nano is due to get the largest revision. It would be "much smaller" than before and would drop the longstanding click wheel, though he refrained from saying it would use a touchscreen. The changes were enough to raise concerns that the iPod shuffle might not continue into the next generation.
A leaked very small Apple touchscreen has fueled speculation that the iPod shuffle might be replaced by a touchscreen device that would fulfill a role similar to that of the SanDisk Sansa Clip+.