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Report: Apple to unveil light-weight notebook models in \'06

Among all brand-name notebook computer makers, Apple Computer is set to take center stage next year with new stylish "light-weight models," according to an online report.

"Apple is projected to ship 3.27 million notebook computers worldwide next year, an increase of 42 percent compared to 2.29 million units this year, according to study results released by the Topology Research Institute," wrote the Taipei Times.

The large increase in shipments would likely boost Apple's worldwide notebook market share from 3.9 to 4.7 percent, the study found.

"Compared to other makers which will post only moderate growth, Apple's performance is significant and worth paying attention to," Topology analyst Simon Yang told the Times.

Yang predicts the company "will unveil light-weight models with a stylish design aimed at luring female users."

The analyst expects a 12-inch model to weigh less than 3.3 pounds and a 14-inch model to weigh less than 4.4 pounds. He did not specify whether the notebooks would be iBooks or PowerBooks.

The reliability of the analyst's predictions are unknown.

AppleInsider has reported that Apple is working on a 25-percent thinner 15-inch Intel PowerBook that could debut as early as Macworld and a 13-inch widescreen iBook that would debut slightly later.

12-inch iBooks (expected along with the 13-inch widescreen) and a 17-inch PowerBook (expected to debut mid-year) are also in the cards, sources say. However, there is no information to suggest Apple will introduce new 14-inch models, bringing the analyst's predictions into question.

Nevertheless, Yang believes the "fondness effect" generated by massive sales of iPods will be the force driving Apple notebooks in the new year.