The Taiwan-based supply chain for Apple products will begin shipments of new 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch MacBook Air models featuring Sandy Bridge platform and Thunderbolt interface in late May for launch in June or July, according to makers in the supply chain.
While Apple's PR representatives in Taiwan have neither confirmed nor responded to the report, it has long been understood that Apple always keeps silent about its new products not yet launched, the sources emphasized.
Main supply chain makers for the new models remain about the same as for the existing MacBook Air, with Quanta Computer solely responsible for assembly, Catcher Technology supplying casings, Auras Technology a main supplier of thermal modules, Shin Zu Shing supplying hinges, and Simplo Technology and Dynapack supplying batteries, the sources pointed out. However, none of the makers have confirmed their participation in making new MacBook Airs.
Based on history of Apple's taking deliveries, the order volume of new MacBook Air in the month of initial launch, June or July, will be considerably large and prices are relative high compared with orders from other vendors. Therefore, Taiwan-based supply chain makers rest the hope on Apple orders for revenue contributions.
In addition to Apple, other vendors of notebook PCs have scheduled increasing monthly shipments to meet traditional peak sales in the third quarter, and consequently shipments in June will be the monthly peak in the second quarter, the sources noted.
Since MacBook Air is symbolic of ultra-slim notebook PCs, other vendors including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Asustek Computer are also offering slim models of notebook PCs but these models are inferior to MacBook Air in thickness due to consideration of production costs and sales price.
Apple shipped over 2.7 million notebook PCs in the first quarter of 2011, historically the second highest quarterly level and only 5% lower than the shipment volume in the preceding quarter. The 5% sequential drop was lower than the corresponding industry average decrease of more than 10%, and this was mainly due to booming sales of new MacBook Pro models.
Along with shipments of the new MacBook Air, Apple's notebook PC shipment volume in the second quarter is expected to rise by 5-10% on quarter and may attain 3.0 million units.