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Apple's 11.6in MacBook Air release imminent?

Manufacturer ramping up as skinny laptop shrinks

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Apple's previously rumoured 11.6in MacBook Air may be nearing release.

Industry moles cited by DigiTimes say that Apple's contract manufacturing partner Quanta will ship up to half a million "11.6in MacBooks" out of its factories by the end of the year.

It seems unlikely that Apple would offer an 11.6in version of its plastic-clad 13.3in MacBook, but with the MacBook Pro range now also extending down to 13.3in screens, there's little room in between these two for the also 13.3in MacBook Air.

The Air was always aimed at buyers seeking a sub-notebook, laptops in which performance plays second fiddle to portability. The Air hasn't been updated for almost 18 months, so it's due a revamp, and to offer it in a reduced size would certainly allow it to slip out from between MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Speculation that the next Air will be an 11.6in machine was first whispered back in June, but the rumour mill has been quiet on the matter since.

If the shift to an 11.6in model seems unlikely, consider 2003's 12in PowerBook G4, which won over a lot of fans for its compact size. Chunky by today's standards, the G4 was ultra-compact back then - a time before tablets and netbooks. The Air came close as an alternative, thanks to its thin design, but it was still quite a wide machine. An 11.6in Air would prove the true successor to the 12in G4 - and as the next, keyboard equipped step up from the iPad. ®

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