Apple Looking at an 11.6-inch MacBook Air?

Did Quanta land an order for an overhaul of the 13.3-inch MacBook Air? Digitimes is reporting that they did, and that it would have an 11.6-inch LED-backlit display. They believe they will ship up to half a million by the end of this year, which means Apple would have to announce an 11.6″ MacBook Air soon and have it available in the next month or two.

Apple Insider mentions that since being introduced at the beginning of 2008, sales have slowed and are probably not very important to the overall revenue of Apple’s portable Mac lineup. It’s been a year since there’s been any changes, and even then it was relatively minor.

In that time span, several other companies have released dual-core ultra low voltage (CULV) laptops and netbooks in the 11″ – 12″ range, and with the launch of the 13.3″ MacBook Pro, the buzz around the MacBook Air has dropped. The MacBook Air is not helped by the incredible success of the iPad. There have been rumors in the past of Apple changing the MacBook Air’s case to a different material, but those rumors ended up going nowhere. It’s very possible Apple worked on a material change, but for one reason or another decided to not run with it.

AI mentions that a component supplier in Taiwan discussed Apple ordering parts that would be tied to an 11.6-inch LED-backlit display and Intel’s new i-Series CPUs (the ULV versions).

This makes quite a bit of sense. Currently, the 13-inch MacBook and MacBook Pros ship with an Intel Core 2 Duo. If you want to move up to Intel’s i-Series CPUs, the 15-inch MacBook Pros offer the i5 and i7 CPUs as options. Having an i-Series CPU in an 11.6-inch MacBook Air would definitely be very attractive, even if it’s the i3, which is used by Toshiba, Dell, etc. It would allow Apple to set it apart from the consumer-oriented MacBook and the professional/prosumer-oriented 13-inch MacBook Pro. It would still be in kind of an odd area of Apple’s portable lineup, and the iPad really should be considered a part of that lineup these days, but I could see it having a definite market with those two features. Think of it as Apple’s way of reaching out to netbook owners who want Mac OS X and something with a little more power.

Apple Insider