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Report: MacBook supplies dwindling

Supplies of Apple's popular notebook computer have become scarce online, a good sign that a refresh is on the way. Given the timing, Apple is likely to wait until its new OS "Lion" hits the shelves.

Apple's MacBook, which got its last update more than a year ago
Apple's MacBook, which got its last update more than a year ago

While much of the attention on Macs in the past few months has revolved around an update to the MacBook Air, there are signs that Apple's entry-level notebook could soon be getting a refresh as well.

AppleInsider reports that supply of the $999 MacBook has gone dry at places like Amazon, J&R, MacConnection, and On Sale. The computer is also back-ordered at and Apple authorized reseller Abt. Apple itself lists the computer as in stock, and shipping within 24 hours.

The MacBook's last update was in May of last year, with Apple bumping the existing model to include a faster processor and Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics. With Apple adding the new Thunderbolt I/O to both itsMacBook Pro and iMac line, there is a chance the MacBook could get it as well. Thunderbolt is seen as a high-end addition, though its inclusion in the iMac suggests that the company is not above putting it in a machine aimed at consumers.

Since the release of the latest MacBook Air in October there have been questions about whether Apple plans to keep the MacBook around considering its price tag bumps up with the company's entry-level MacBook Air, which has gone on to become quite popular since its redesign and price cut. It's worth noting that in late 2009, Apple said that the MacBook was Apple's best-selling computer ever, selling more than 10 million units since its launch.

The timing of all this is of special interest considering the upcoming release of Lion, the next version of Apple's Mac OS. At the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, the company announced Lion would be made available as an upgrade to Snow Leopard users sometime in July. If Apple is planning to release an upgraded MacBook around that launch, these shortages suggest that release is coming sooner rather than later.