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Apple readies new SuperDrive iBook configuration

Apple Computer, Inc. is preparing to add a new iBook to its lineup of standard configurations, raising its total retail iBook offerings to 4 models, reliable sources tell AppleInsider

The new 14-inch configuration will reportedly sport a 1.2GHz G4 processor and SuperDrive as standard. This configuration was previously available to customers as a build-to-order (BTO) only option from the Apple online store.

A handful of the newly configured SuperDrive iBooks began showing up in product shipments to several Apple retail stores this week. The units are reportedly labeled with a new configuration model number (M9618LL/A), but a closer inspection reveals that the units were originally manufactured as custom configurations with model numbers such as 'Z0A1'.

Apple traditionally labels its standard configurations with model numbers beginning with 'M', while custom order model numbers typically begin with 'Z.' When sales of a specific BTO configuration reach a certain degree of success, the company sometimes chooses to add the configuration to its standard retail offerings, increasing potential sales, and allowing customers to obtain their desired model without a waiting period.

The last time Apple altered its laptop offerings in this fashion was in early 2003, with the addition of a 12-inch PowerBook G4 SuperDrive configuration. Originally, the company had planned to offer SuperDrives in the 12-inch PowerBook as a BTO only option. Shortly after the release of the new PowerBooks, Apple added the SuperDrive configuration to its standard offerings due to unexpected consumer demand.

The 14-inch SuperDrive iBook configuration will list for $1699, and should be available from Apple retail stores and resellers in the immediate future, sources said.

Last month Apple refreshed all of its portable computer offerings, adding three new models of the iBook G4.