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Apple to ship 15.4in MacBook next May?

Production contract signed, analyst claims

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Apple is gearing up to launch a 15.4in MacBook next May, a year after the Intel-equipped consumer notebook first came to market. So claims a Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia analyst, who also names Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn - aka Hon Hai Precision Industry - as the manufacturer.

Analyst Vincent Chen's claim was relayed via Chinese-language newspaper the Commercial Times and subsequently through local websites who note the deal, if true, means Asus will see its MacBook orders cut by a third. It's currently believed to be the exclusive supplier.

However, it seems an odd move for Apple to make. The current MacBook, fitted with a 13.3in display, sits neatly below the metal-cased 15.4in MacBook Pro, itself second only to the 17in Pro model. Apple this week upgraded the Pro machines to Intel's Core 2 Duo processor, and it seems likely it will do the same with the MacBook, using form-factor rather than performance to distinguish the consumer machine from the pricier model.

If Apple ships a 15.4in MacBook, either it's going to drop the 15.4in MacBook Pro - unlikely, since this has become the line's defining form-factor - or it expects functionality to give buyers a reason to opt for the much more expensive model beyond the odd port or two. And that probably means keeping the MacBook's spec well behind the Pro's. ®

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