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Laptops

Mac fans wait for 17-inch PowerBook

Mini Me may have his 17-inch PowerBook, but the rest of the world is having to wait as Apple Computer is apparently having production problems with the extrawide notebook.

    Mini Me may have his 17-inch PowerBook, but the rest of the world is having to wait as Apple Computer is apparently having production problems with the extrawide notebook. When Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the world's largest laptop at January's Macworld Expo, he promised that the machines would be available in February. However, early customers--even some who ordered the day the giant laptop was introduced--say they are still waiting.

    Reports of the delays are chronicled extensively on the Mac laptop site PowerBook Central. Some who say they ordered right after Jobs' keynote speech say they are being told they might not get their machines until March 24.

    But Apple is remaining silent, with a representative refusing to say whether any machines have shipped or when the laptops might be broadly available. Apple's online store lists a three- to five-week wait for new orders, while a worker at Apple's retail store in Emeryville, Calif., said that the outlet has no machines in stock, nor does it have any idea when they might arrive.

    Apple has advertised the machines extensively with a TV commercial that shows the diminutive actor Verne Troyer, who played Mini Me in the Austin Powers movies, using the 17-inch model as Yao Ming, the 7-foot-5-inch Houston Rockets center, uses the 12-inch model.

    One independent Apple dealer said he has been given no new estimate of when the machines will reach independent stores, but said he is hoping they arrive by the end of the month. According to the dealer, initial orders were strong, with the large laptop outselling the 12-inch model by four-to-one in the first two weeks.

    "It seems a lot of the pro people (for example, graphic designers) really want that 17-inch screen," the dealer said.

    However, orders have slowed as the 12-inch model has shipped and the wait for the larger model has mounted, the dealer said. That increases the risk that the early demand may wane before Apple has a chance to convert interest into sales.

    Apple's flat-panel iMac was initially in short supply, but shortly after Apple caught up with the initial demand, the company found interest had somewhat waned.