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Thursday, October 30, 2003, 10:55 am PT (01:55 pm ET)

Quanta to Produce New iMacs as Apple Restructures Overseas Shipping

Apple has once again contracted Quanta Computer to manufacture the next-generation of its iMac consumer desktop, sources tell AppleInsider. The Taiwanese computer manufacture has a long-standing history of producing Apple's notebook computers and was the company that landed the production rights to Apple's second-generation flat-panel iMacs over two years ago.

Quanta recently completed the construction of a plant in Shanghai's Songjiang Industry Park and is in the process of shifting the majority of its production away from Taiwan. The computer manufacturer has replicated its business model in China, creating the world's largest notebook computer production plant. In the new manufacturing facility, labor, electricity, tax and government fees will account for only 5 percent of manufacturing costs, according to executive vice president Michael Wang .

Meanwhile, Apple Computer is preparing the introduction of its third-generation iMac desktop computers, which sources say are expected to ship by early next year. According to AppleInsider sources, the company is currently in the process of planning the logistics for the new Macs, including the design and production of packaging material as well as its weight and dimension measurements, palleting and storage requirements.

A previous report had targeted Apple's new iMac for a debut by Spring of 2004, but optimistically hinted at an introduction during the first week of January as part of the annual Macworld Expo San Francisco trade show. Design and specification details remain scarce, though sources have corroborated initial reports that suggested major cosmetic changes to the iMac line were imminent.

In addition to sorting iMac production details, the company is rumored to be re-assessing its overseas shipping agreements. "[Apple is] aware and not happy about PowerBook shipping problems," one source said. "Look for the who and how Apple ships things out of China to change."

Apple's current agreement with Airborne Express is said to provided irresistible rates on paper, but the partnership has been marred by shipping delays. As it turns out, Airborne contracts their flights out of China through FedEx or subcontractors of FedEx, sources said. "On numerous occasions FedEx left Airborne in the lurch with regards to individual shipments from China, always placing FedEx's own shipments ahead of [Airborne's]. Apple's shipping managers have reportedly been meeting with Airborne executives in recent weeks to discuss the problem.