New 12-inch MacBook Air Coming In 3Q14 Say Apple OEM Supply Chain Insiders

Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that according to sources in the upstream Asian supply chain, Apple will begin mass production of a new MacBook Air in the 2014 third quarter, filling the not-terribly-large gap between the current 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air offerings as well as revivifying Apple’s vanguard statusa in the small-to-medium-size ultra-thin notebook market.

Longtime Apple laptop subcontractor Quanta Computer will be responsible for the assembly of the 12-inch device, according to the anonymous moles, who also say they haven’t heard of any changes coming to the 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air products. Given that the current MacBook Air design is getting a bit long in the tooth, heading into its fifth year, we can speculate that once Apple has the new Air launched and established, the fresh design can be stretched and shrunk slightly to accommodate the other MacBook Air size categories, since it’s rumored elsewhere that both the 11-inch Airs will be continued at a reduced price with its current non-Retina display, and the 13-inch model discontinued and replaced by the new 12-inch unit which will have a Retina resolution panel.

On the other hand, Digitimes’ sources suggest that Apple is releasing a 12-inch MacBook Air because iPad sales are impacting the 11-inch model, whose screen size isn’t much larger than the 9.7-inch iPad Air the company is looking to establish a clear boundary between the two product lines, which, if correct, bodes ill for the 11-incher’s future prospects, but in the meantime the company so far has no firm timeline for discontinuation of the 11-inch model.

Lee and Tsai’s insiders say the 12-inch MacBook Air features design changes to the battery and the internal layout, but its industrial design will not be a major departure from the current Air models, and will persevere with a unibody aluminum chassis.

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