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4.4-pound PowerBook debuts

Apple introduces the new PowerBook 2400c, codesigned by Apple's Japanese subsidiary and IBM's Yamato Lab in Japan.

Apple Computer (AAPL) introduced a new 4.4-pound ultraportable notebook today manufactured by IBM Japan.

The PowerBook 2400c was codesigned by Apple's Japanese subsidiary and IBM's Yamato Lab in Japan. Apple says that the product was originally destined only for the Japanese market but that it later decided that the 2400c filled a need in its U.S. product line, replacing the discontinued Duo line of notebooks.

IBM (IBM) will manufacture the notebook for Apple but will not sell them under the IBM name.

As reported earlier by CNET's NEWS.COM, the 2400c weighs 4.4 pounds and sports a 180-MHz 603e PowerPC processor, a 1.3GB hard drive, and a 10.4-inch active-matrix color display.

"It's a good product for the Japanese market," said Randy Giusto, an analyst covering mobile products for IDC Research. "But there's a lot more competition in the U.S. market."

Japan accounts for 70 percent of the 1.1 million ultraportable computers sold worldwide, but the U.S. market is much more limited, Giusto said. He added that there are products in the same weight class that offer up to 12.1-inch screens and that the 2400 is pricey, to boot.

But for an Apple user "dying for a Duo, they'll probably buy this."

Apple says the 2400c "sheds" high-end multimedia features to save weight, so there is no CD-ROM drive or even a floppy drive, although users can connect an external floppy. The system does have two PC Card slots for expansion and has built-in SCSI, ADB, serial ports, and a video-out connector for driving an external monitor.

The 2400c will be available in Japan by the end of May, Apple says, and should reach U.S. shores by the end of July. It is expected to cost around $3,500.