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Apple readying 15-inch MacBook Air for Q1, report says

The company will reportedly offer its current 11.6- and 13.3-inch MacBook Air models alongside a new 15-inch option by the end of the first quarter.


Apple is planning to unveil a bigger MacBook Air towards the beginning of 2012, a new report claims.

According to Digitimes, which claims to have sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has already engaged manufacturing partners to start producing a 15-inch MacBook Air for a first-quarter 2012 launch. Digitimes' sources say that the bigger MacBook Air will complement the current 11.6- and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs already on store shelves.

Apple's ultraslim and lightweight MacBook Air has quickly become a key component in the company's product mix. Earlier this month, research from NPD and Morgan Stanley found that the computer accounted for 28 percent of all Apple notebook sales in October, up from an 8 percent contribution in May and June.

That report followed an investor note from J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz earlier this year, claiming the MacBook Air could deliver as much as $2.2 billion in revenue to Apple if its sales continue on their torrid pace.

However, there's no telling how that figure might need to be adjusted if Digitimes' sources are right on another point about Apple's MacBook Air plans. According to those sources, Apple will cut the price of its existing MacBook Airs at some point in the next few months to prepare for the launch of its new line. The new prices, as well as pricing on the 15-inch model, are unknown at this point.

Digitimes' latest report on the MacBook Air comes just two weeks after the publication said that Apple was planning to launch a thin, 15-inch Mac notebook in March. However, at the time, the outlet's sources weren't sure if it was a MacBook Air or a slimmer MacBook Pro.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on the Digitimes report.