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Apple orders '12m iPhones', paper claims

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Apple has awarded an 12m-unit manufacturing contract for its much-rumoured iPhone product to Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision - aka Foxconn - if unnamed industry sources cited by Chinese-language newspaper the Commercial Times are to be believed.

The paper's report, relayed by the AFX newswire, claims the iPhone will launch in the first half of 2007. The most recent rumours claim Apple CEO Steve Jobs may show the handset off at Macworld Expo early in January 2007. If it is just one handset - it's been widely speculated that Apple may have two mobile phone models up its sleeve.

One or two models, Hon Hai will manufacture 12m of them, the report claimed before re-iterating an earlier allegation that the company has also been signed up to produce an upcoming 15in version of Apple's 13.3in MacBook laptop.

Before, the larger MacBook was said to be earmarked for a May 2007 launch, but today the Commercial Times claimed it may have been brought forward to January.

Having now shipped Core 2 Duo MacBooks, MacBook Pros and iMacs, Apple's left with the Mac Pro and Mac Mini as the basis for Macworld Expo upgrade fodder. Certainly, updated Mac Pros equipped with Intel's quad-core Xeon 5300 series would make for an attractive keynote demo.

Almost certain to appear is the iTV - or whatever its finally called; the current name's just a working title - set-top box for playing iTunes downloaded content on your TV. Apple has already announced this and said it will ship in Q1 2007 - perfect timing for Macworld.

With the iPod line recently updated, only the long-awaited video-centric tablet iPod remains a contender for a keynote slot. Much depends, we suspect, on how many more studios Apple signs for its online movie store - once there are enough of them, then it will launch the widescreen iPod.

Which, apart from software - Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard' will surely get a demo - leaves us with the iPhone as certainly the most anticipated, if not the most likely, subject to get an airing in Jobs' keynote. And it's already been said by insiders and analysts to be on track for an early 2007 debut... ®

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