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Apple launches new portable

The Mac maker unveils a low-cost subnotebook with a 240-MHz processor, but it's not destined for U.S. shores.

Apple Computer (AAPL) officially unveiled a new subnotebook computer with a 240-MHz processor, but it's not destined for U.S. shores.

The new notebook, which will be designed and manufactured by IBM Japan, is being sold exclusively by Apple's Japanese division. U.S. customers aren't expected to see the diminutive revision to the PowerBook 2400 because of America's smaller market for such devices.

The system will ship with a 240-MHz PowerPC 603e processor, 16MB of memory, and a 2GB hard disk drive for around $2,260, the company said.

Apple is currently in the process of clearing out inventory of its 180-MHz version of the PowerBook 2400, first introduced in 1997 and sold in both

Apple's PowerBook 2400
Japan and the United States. That model was also designed by Apple's Japanese subsidiary and IBM's Yamato Lab in Japan.

Sales of the 2400 series notebooks in Japan warranted a newer model to compete with similar-sized notebooks made by companies such as Sony and Toshiba, which use Intel chips.

In the United States, meanwhile, Apple is focusing on selling into bigger markets, such as the market for low-cost notebook computers. Industry sources say company is readying a sub-$2,000 portable that uses the high-performance PowerPC 750 processor found in the company's $5,600 PowerBook G3 notebook. (See related story).

Analysts expect that notebooks priced under $2,000 in retail superstores will be the largest growth market this year as more consumers will finally be able to afford new technologies. Previously, most Apple notebooks priced in this range were discontinued models.