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Apple to sell new subnotebook

Apple will sell a diminutive portable in Japan, a model U.S. customers aren't likely to see due to the smaller American market for such devices.

Apple's PowerBook 2400
Apple Computer (AAPL) will begin marketing a new subnotebook computer in Japan as soon as next month, but U.S. customers aren't likely to see the diminutive portable due to America's smaller market for such devices.

The new notebook, which will be designed and manufactured by IBM Japan, will be sold exclusively by Apple's Japanese division, Apple executives told the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.

Apple sells a subnotebook called the PowerBook 2400 in both Japan and the United States, but not in Europe. That model was also designed by Apple's Japanese subsidiary and IBM's Yamato Lab in Japan.

"We may be exploring some options, but we've got nothing to confirm on that. There may be some additional opportunities for the 2400 in the Japanese market," said a representative of the company's U.S. headquarters.

The 2400 was originally destined only for the Japanese market but Apple later decided that the 2400 filled a need in its U.S. product line, replacing the discontinued Duo line of notebooks. According to the report, the 2400 series notebooks sold well in Japan but received a lukewarm response in America.

Pricing and date of the new subnotebook's release within the second quarter have yet to be determined, the report said.

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 notebooks priced in this range were discontinued models.