Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air notebook to once again include backlit keyboards

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The new MacBook Air: It might just feature the shiny coolness that is a backlit keyboard.

With the release of new models later this month, Apple is set to reinstate a feature to its MacBook Airs that went missing when the company overhauled the ultra-thin notebooks into more cost-affordable products late last year.

Per AppleInsider, according to sources close to the story, backlit keyboards will join the string of hardware enhancements planned for the new 11.6- and 13.3-inch notebooks, which are also expected to adopt high-speed Thunderbolt ports, an upgrade to Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, and possibly high-speed 400MBps flash memory.

The omission late last year of keyboard backlights — which help illuminate the keys on a keyboard in dim lighting scenarios — from Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Airs was particularly glaring given that all three iterations of the first-generation of MacBook Airs (Early 2008 to Mid-2009) included them as standard features.

Given Apple’s energy saving controls, software expertise, and the nominal cost associated with including keyboard backlights, it was never particularly clear why Apple opted to leave out the feature when it redesigned the MacBook Air line last October. One industry watcher even went as far as to call it “planned obsolescence” on Apple’s part.

Nevertheless, people familiar with the matter say Apple’s white 13.3-inch MacBook will once again be the only notebook from the company to lack keyboard backlights once the new Airs make their debut sometime during the week of July 21st.

According to sources, Apple has been holding off shipments of roughly 400,000 of these new MacBook Airs until it can image them with the finalized Golden Master build of Mac OS X Lion, which privately began making its way to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Air, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) by next week

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 03:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With the middle of July almost upon us, the long-awaited arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and a refreshed MacBook Air notebook are something we’re hankering for. Per CNET, a “few overseas sources” have stated that “Apple Retail stores are planning ‘overnights’ on July 13th.” Overnights typically entail a refresh of Apple store displays and training on new products.

The cool cats at AppleInsider have also heard similar chatter, citing a “bulletin” posted to Apple’s internal retail news network “advising store management to perform RAM upgrades to certain Mac models on the showroom floors by Sunday, July 10th at the latest.” The deduction: this is needed to ready those models for upgrades to Lion.

Apple is already on the record with statements about a July release. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would be releasing Lion as a US$29.99 update to users in July. The OS has already reached gold master status, according to reports.

Probably not coincidentally, the OS X Lion page on Apple’s site shows the new operating system running on the MacBook Air.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will bring plenty of enhancements and tweaks, including iCloud services built into the software, iOS-style Launchpad to house apps, full-screen apps and previewing Preview PDFs full-screen, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off, among other new features.

The new MacBook Air is expected to weigh only 2.3 pounds (for the 11.6-inch model) and is anticipated to feature a fast Intel Sandy Bridge Core i series processors for the first time and a Thunderbolt port–both features already present on its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen iPhone in September, orders 15 million units from Pegatron

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, 03:14
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The time to the iPhone 5′s release is apparently now two months and counting.

Per Digitimes, Apple is rumored to have ordered 15 million iPhone 5 units from Taiwanese notebook manufacturer Pegatron Technology has received orders for 15 million units from Apple. The company has declined to comment on the report.

Pegatron produced somewhere in the region of four million iPhone 4s for Apple in the first quarter of 2011, though due to a slump in iPhone 4 sales this figure was well down on the 10 million it had prepared to manufacture.

The shipping date won’t come as a surprise to industry-watchers: Apple traditionally holds a music-themed event in September and rumours that the next-generation iPhone would be announced then strengthened after no new iPhone was revealed during June’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

However, the reports do seem to contradict earlier information from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty that suggested iPhone 5 production would not begin until mid- to late August.

Digitimes reports that the iPhone 5 “does not seem to have any major update from iPhone 4″ and refers to it as the iPhone 4S at one stage in the article.

Meanwhile, the same outlet reports that production of touch sensors for the iPad 2 has reached five million a month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to use Toggle DDR 2.0 NAND flash memory in next-gen MacBook Air

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, 03:17
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for cool details about features for Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air, you might like this.

Per Macotakara, Apple is rumored to adopt “Toggle DDR 2.0,” a 19-nanometer process for NAND flash memory offering 400 megabyte-per-second speed, in its next MacBook Air.

Citing a person with an “Asian electronics component company,” the report said that the new technology will replace the Blade X-gale found in the current MacBook Air models.

The new 19-nanometer flash memory is said to be packaged on a smaller chip, and will be soldered onto the base circuit of the new thin-and-light notebook directly.

The report noted that the Open NAND Flash Interface Working Group, which standardizes NAND flash, has released the ONFi 3.0 specification for 400MBps speeds, but most memory processing companies do not yet offer compatible chips. It said that “Toggle DDR 2.0,” which is a standardized procedure from the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, is believed to have been embraced by Apple.

Apple’s MacBook Air was made thinner and lighter with a new model released last October that features instant-on capabilities with no hard drive and no optical drive. The ultraportable notebook sports only NAND flash memory for storage.

That storage was initially provided by Toshiba, but later changed to Samsung. The change allowed for read times to be upgraded to 261.1MBps, from 209.8Mbps, while write times were boosted to 209MBps from 175.6MBps.

Rather than relying on traditional 2.5-inch or 1.8-inch SSDs, the new MacBook Air drives utilize a new form factor known as mSATA. After the thinner and lighter MacBook Air was unveiled last year, Toshiba announced its Blade X-gale SSD series, the same hardware found in Apple’s thin-and-light notebook.

Apple is said to have built nearly 400,000 of its next-generation MacBook Air last month in preparation for a launch that is expected to occur soon. The anticipated new notebooks are believed to feature Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, as well as the new high-speed Thunderbolt port.

While new MacBook Air hardware is expected to launch soon, it will not debut until Apple’s next-generation operating system is released. It’s also been reported that Apple would freeze the introductions of new Mac hardware until Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is released. The “Golden Master” of Lion was released to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Rumor: Next-gen, Sandy Bridge, Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air expected to ship in mid-July

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 29th, 2011, 08:39
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

It’s the rumors that keep life interesting.

And “Gossip Girl” still on the air (for better or for worse).

Per the cool cats at 9to5 Mac, a new series of rumors has narrowed down the expected ship date of the next-generation MacBook Air, complete with Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge architecture, to mid-July. The tip emphasized that the systems would be virtually identical in external design outside of the switch from Mini DisplayPort to Thunderbolt.

The systems are already known to be shipping with Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and hint that Apple will be making the new OS available on or near the same day. Intel’s newly shipping low-voltage Core i5 and i7 chips are widely presumed to be coming along, although Apple may only use these for the 11-inch Air and reserve existing, faster 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz processors for the 13-inch system.

The new Air is expected to be a major leap in performance. Although the Intel integrated graphics will just be on par with the GeForce 320M they replace, the underlying processors will bring Apple’s systems from behind equivalents in performance to equivalent or sometimes ahead. An update is also an opportunity to close gaps in RAM or storage.

One rumor has the 11-inch Air dropping to US$899 to lure in more buyers. Apple’s typical pattern is more often to upgrade features for the same price, and it may consider this a top priority given just 64GB of storage in its starter model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst notes possible “iPhone 4S” in September, iPad 3 prototype for early 2012

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 28th, 2011, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

In non-software-update-esque news, a second investment research firm on Monday cited sources in Taiwan as indicating that Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone will hit the market early in the third quarter and also did its part to downplay rumors of an iPad 3 launch prior to next year and a low-cost iPhone in 2011.

Per AppleInsider, pointing to “recent Apple supply chain checks,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger said production of the company’s fifth-generation iPhone has come into view for component suppliers “like Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Omnivision,” each of which are indicating “a late September or early October” manufacturing ramp for the handset.

In a note to clients on the matter, Berger identified the new iPhone as going by the code name “N94″ and indicated that his sources have referred to the device under the presumed marketing name “iPhone 4S,” which would suggest the handset will arrive as an evolutionary upgrade to the existing iPhone 4 rather than a radical redesign like the ones that took place during the transition from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G and from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4.

Berger, added that his sources “see no near-term plans for a low-end iPhone for emerging markets, or a new iPhone in a transparent case.”

Additionally, the analyst pointed to conversations with the same supply chain contacts in reporting that Apple has been “evaluating various touchscreen displays” for its third-generation iPad.

Thought he acknowledged conjecture and speculation over the possibility that such a device could launch later this year, he said his intelligence suggests that the company’s progress with display manufacturers indicates a prototype of the next iPad won’t be ready until early 2012, implying an announcement would again likely come in the spring.

“This should squarely put to rest any debate about a 2011 launch of the iPad 3 — after all, Apple is severely supply constrained on the iPad 2, and it is by far the best-performing and functioning tablet in the world,” the analyst wrote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst predicts Apple to start assembling iPhone 5 in August

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 27th, 2011, 05:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Apple will begin production of fifth-generation iPhones in August ahead of a projected late third quarter launch, according to intelligence obtained by by one investment banker’s recent trip to Taiwan .

Per AppleInsider, after meetings with unnamed individuals in Taiwan last week where Apple’s supply chain and manufacturing facilities reside, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty issued a note to clients in which she confidently stated: “Apple’s next iPhone will begin production in mid to late August and ramp aggressively” into the calendar fourth quarter.

She added that, based on her intelligence, the new handset will launch and be available to consumers sometime near the end of the third calendar quarter of the year, which ends September.

As a result of the later than usual launch, Huberty shifted 2 million iPhone units from the firm’s third quarter estimates to its fourth quarter estimates, though the firm’s full year estimate of 72 million units remain unchanged. However, the analyst notes that if the next iPhone were to come out in early September, it would “drive upside” to Morgan Stanley’s lowered estimates.

Lower priced iPhones and an Apple-branded TV may also be in the works, Huberty noted. According to the analyst, Apple is forecasting a large iPhone unit increase in 2012 “on the back of new products and potentially lower price points.” Various major news outlets reported this spring that Apple is planning a cheaper iPhone model, which analysts believe would help the company make gains in emerging and prepaid mobile markets.

“We also believe Apple is in the early design stages for a TV, which could add US$19 billion and US$4.50 of annual revenue and EPS longer-term,” Huberty continued. In March, the analyst reported that checks in Asia suggested Apple was working on a “Smart TV prototype.” Earlier this week, an unverified report claimed to leak Apple’s plans for iOS-powered connected TVs, citing a “former Apple executive” as the source.

In addition to Apple’s ramping up of iPhone production, Morgan Stanley sees upward pressure on iPad shipments as post-Japan earthquake product constraints have subsided. Huberty also echoed reports that improved component supply has led Apple to negotiate price cuts with some of its suppliers. Those cuts could boost margins “modestly in the June quarter and more in September,” the note read.

A recent report out of Asia said Apple has demanded 10 percent price cuts from iPad suppliers as orders increase. The report specifically cited companies supplying printed circuit boards, optical components, battery modules and touch panels as being pressured to lower prices.

Huberty sees the recent dip in Apple’s share price as a buying opportunity for investors in light of the prospect of improved shipments of the iPhone and iPad. Morgan Stanley reiterated its Overweight rating of Apple, with a price target of US$428. The company’s stock has slide more than 6 percent to US$326.35 since the beginning of June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release fifth-generation iPhone in China this September

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 24th, 2011, 04:34
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Per Boy Genius Report, analyst Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities said in a new note to investors on Thursday that China Mobile may receive the iPhone in September. The source is said to be an employee of China Mobile, who reportedly posted the information on “Weibo,” which is China’s version of Twitter.

The Weibo message was said to have been quickly deleted, but not before an image of the text was captured.

White noted that if the report is true, it would mean that the iPhone 5 would need to support China Mobile’s current 3G TD-SCDMA network, because the carrier’s 4G TD-LTE network is only in trials. Apple is said to have already agreed to support China Mobile’s 4G network at some point in the future.

“If this weibo message and story are true, this would represent a landmark agreement for Apple, providing the company with access to the largest wireless carrier in the world with 611 million wireless subscribers at the end of May or 68% of the total China wireless market,” White said. “Additionally, the timing would be much sooner than expected and provide another growth driver for the final months of (calendar year 2011).”

White has been on top of the Apple-China Mobile story, and earlier on Thursday offered his analysis that Apple would make great inroads in the nation, particularly by reaching an agreement with the largest carrier in the world. In addition, he believes Apple would do extremely well by releasing a smaller, cheaper iPhone that could be sold in China without a contract.

Rumors of an agreement between Apple and China Mobile picked up steam on Wednesday, when a report claimed that Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook was spotted at the carrier’s corporate headquarters. Cook was said to be in good spirits, and speculation began to swirl that the two parties are nearing a deal.

China Mobile currently uses home-grown 3G data technology that is incompatible with the existing GSM and CDMA iPhone models. Despite this fact, there are estimated to be 4 million iPhone users on the massive network, running their device at much slower 2G wireless data speeds.

The iPhone 4 launched in China on carrier China Unicom last September, drawing crowds of thousands at Apple’s retail stores. The handset debuted first in the U.S. in late June of last year.

Rumor: Apple to switch to dual-LED flash for iPhone 5

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 23rd, 2011, 03:22
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The new iPhone 5: It may just feature an even swankier flash system.

Per DigiTimes, “recent market rumors” indicate Apple’s iPhone 5 will likely come with a dual-LED flash. Taiwan-based LED packaging firms Everlight Electronics, Edison Opto and Lite-On Technology are named as potential suppliers. Although the publication has well-placed sources within the Asian supply chain, the accuracy of its Apple predictions varies significantly.

“Everlight and Lite-On have strengthened their deployments in the smartphone market for a while, with their products already being shipped to the supply chains of brand-name handset vendors,” the reported noted industry sources as saying. Meanwhile, sources said that Edison specializes in high-power LEDs and has reportedly started shipping LED flash products to branded handset vendors, giving it a “high chance” of attracting dual-LED flash orders from Apple.

It had been reported that Apple had “greatly reduced” orders for Philips LED flash components in recent months and may go with another company for the iPhone 5, according to a person familiar with the matter. At the time, the source indicated that “highly unconfirmed” rumors pointed to a Taiwan-based firm as the new LED flash supplier.

Apple first began using LED flash in last year’s iPhone 4.

Last month, photos of a few purported next-generation iPhone cases and parts components emerged, showing a shift in the location of the device’s camera flash. An alleged case leak showed up on a Chinese international trade site, followed by photos of a supposed fifth-generation iPhone rear camera part without attached flash. Finally, a photo of a back panel allegedly for the so-called iPhone surfaced in late May.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple developing iOS-based HDTV for late 2011 release

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011, 07:35
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor

applelogo_silver

Sometimes you have to turn a hobby into a full-time job.

Per DailyTech, Apple is rumored to be working on an iOS-powered connected TV, possibly for release as early as this fall.

A former Apple executive, speaking anonymously, said the company plans to “blow Netflix and all those other guys away” by bundling Apple TV + iTunes inside a physical display, DailyTech reports. Apple is reportedly teaming up with a major supplier to provide the rebranded television sets, the source noted.

When questioned why an OEM would cut into its sales by providing Apple with units, the source said, “If you have to be competing with somebody, you want to be competing with yourself.”

The tipster indicated a planned fall launch, while noting that the product could get pushed to next year because of Apple’s “high standards.” A fall launch could coincide with the launch of the next-generation iPhone, as well as iOS 5 and iCloud.

“You’ll go into an Apple retail store and be able to walk out with a TV. It’s perfect,” the source said. According to the unverified report, the iOS-driven televisions would support third-party apps.

Rumors of an Apple Smart TV have existed for years, with Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster repeatedly forecasting the product. Munster has suggested that an Internet-connected TV from Apple may have a starting price in the range of US$2,000.

In March, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said Asian suppliers had told her Apple had built a Smart TV prototype. According to Huberty, an Apple-branded TV could add as much as US$4 billion per 1 percent share of the TV market Apple is able to capture over the next two years.

Then, in April, Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities said “data points” from a China electronics trade show suggested Apple could launch an HDTV set possibly by the end of the year. “Our research suggests this Smart TV would go well beyond the miniature US$99 second-generation Apple TV that the company released last fall and provide a full-blown TV product for consumers,” White said.

Though Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last year that the Apple TV set top box product is “a hobby” for the company, sales of the US$99 second-generation model have improved over the first-generation. After the company sold 250,000 units in the first six weeks of availability, Jobs said Apple was “thrilled” with the figures.

Apple went on to sell 1 million Apple TVs within three months of the device’s launch. However, analysts have estimated that a million units per quarter would amount to a “fairly immaterial” $400 million in annual revenue.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities said in April that Apple TV sales had reached 2 million, reportedly selling 820,000 units in the March quarter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.