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Report: iMac notebook production on tap

Apple's notebook equivalent to the popular iMac is slated to be produced by Alpha Top of Taiwan in June, a newspaper reports.

Apple Computer may be getting closer to finally unveiling its much-anticipated consumer notebook computer.

Apple's notebook equivalent to the popular iMac is slated to be produced by Alpha Top of Taiwan starting in June, according to a report in the online edition of Nikkei Business Publications.

Anticipation for Apple's consumer notebook has been building since May of 1998, when interim chief executive Steve Jobs announced that the company would venture into that market. Since then, bits of information about the eagerly awaited device have been slowly surfacing in spite the project's secrecy.

Citing sources, the report said the lightweight notebook will be styled similarly to the multi-colored iMacs and is expected to be priced at less than $1,500, which is in line with previous reports.

If production starts in June, the new portable could reach U.S. shores in time for an introduction at the July Macworld Expo, which has historically served as a forum for major new Apple product announcements. Last year, production of the iMac started full tilt in early July and was available to U.S. consumers in August.

Apple declined to comment. Alpha Top could not be reached for comment.

The move to have Alpha Top produce the portable follows similar moves by Apple to outsource production of computers to other Taiwanese and Korean manufacturers.

Quanta Computer of Taiwan started producing Apple's newest high-end PowerBook notebooks in March, according to the report. Those notebooks were launched in the U.S. at Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference in May.

Earlier this year, Apple began to outsource more production of its iMac computers to LG Electronics of Korea and NatSteel of Singapore as a way to control production costs and inventory.

Apple was once known for building far too few machines for a product's launch and for having production snafus.

But the company not only overcame its own tendencies with the launch of the hugely successful iMac, it now claims to lead the computer industry in terms of inventory management.

Last quarter, Apple executives said the company held an average of one day of inventory, while direct PC maker Dell Computer held around 6 days of inventory. Generally speaking, the less inventory a company holds, the better, because company's are less likely to get stuck with products that are unappealing to consumers.