Apple (s aapl) is looking to start production of new MacBook Airs in late May, in preparation for a product launch in June or July, according to Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes. The new Air would feature Intel Sandy Bridge (s intc) processors and Thunderbolt ports, according to this and earlier reports.
DigiTimes has found that primary suppliers for the MacBook Air will remain the same, and that both the 11.6- and 13.3-inch models will continue to be produced. The source of the info is said to be “makers in the supply chain,” although none would go on record since Apple never reveals info about future product releases early and wouldn’t be too pleased with its suppliers doing the same.
Rumors that Apple would be introducing a refresh of the new MacBook Air, which received a major overhaul in October of 2010, have been circulating for some time now. Some suspect a new Air could be unveiled at WWDC this year. Another possibility is that Apple is planning to launch it alongside the official public release of OS X Lion, the next iteration of its Mac operating system. Lion has a lot of features that make the Air the perfect platform for showing it off, like the ability to resume state on power on, and auto-save features that make the most sense in a mobile computer.
A new Air within the next couple of months also makes sense because it sets up Apple’s computer line-up for the third quarter of 2011, which is when computer-makers traditionally see their peak volume for the year. The MacBook Air has, by all accounts, been a success since its redesign last year, but it still uses an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Upgrading to the Sandy Bridge platform will provide better power usage, better graphics and better performance, and make the Air much more attractive to back-to-school notebook buyers.
The MacBook Air is the most exciting product in Apple’s Mac line, in my opinion, and I think a well-timed update that coincides with the release of Apple’s most significant operating system update in many years is a recipe for success. An update like the one described in this new report is definitely in the pipeline, and this timeline does make a lot of sense. Anyone putting their money down if this does come to pass?