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Friday, April 07, 2006, 11:40 am PT (02:40 pm ET)

Apple to ditch iBook brand alongside notebook launch

It's almost official — Apple Computer will re-brand its iBook consumer notebooks under the "MacBook" moniker when it releases new models based on Intel Corp.'s Core Duo processors later this month, AppleInsider has learned.

The new portables, targeted at the consumer and education markets, will represent the most redesigned notebooks to emerge from Apple's famed industrial design studios in several years, sources have said.

True to speculation and hints offered by the company through recent trademark filings, Apple will call the notebooks MacBooks rather than iBooks.

Well-placed sources say the company has already started to prepare marketing materials that bear the MacBook product name. Any effort to change the name at this point in the product's development cycle would pose as an unnecessary inconvenience, they say.

The good news for Mac enthusiasts and prospective MacBook buyers is that they'll soon be able to place orders for the new notebooks. People often familiar with the Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple's product roll-out plans say it is now up to company management to O.K. the MacBooks for manufacturing ramp. This decision, however, is highly contingent on a couple of factors, these people say.

Apple must first align an ample supply of components from its suppliers and then wait on the green light from its product marketing division, which is highly influential in setting precise product launch dates. Nevertheless, an announcement is expected sooner than later. Reports that have suggested Apple would not unveil its new consumer notebooks until June appear to be inaccurate.

Unlike Apple's entry-level Mac mini consumer desktops, which are available with either an Intel Core Solo or Core Duo processor, each MacBook is expected to pack at least a 1.67GHz Core Duo chip. The notebooks will be available in several configurations, each built around a vibrant 13-inch widescreen display.

Like Apple's MacBook Pro professional notebooks, the new consumer MacBooks are expected to sport a built-in iSight video camera, a MagSafe power adaptor and come bundled with Apple's Front Row and Photo Booth software applications.

Previous reports have also suggested the MacBook will boast some new proprietary Apple technology such as a completely magnetic latching system that will adhere the display module to the computer component without the need for a physical latching mechanism.

Alongside the MacBook, Apple is also expected to unveil its flagship 17-inch MacBook Pro professional notebook, which has also recently been finalized.