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Monday, August 14, 2006, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

Briefly: Apple preparing for fall product launches

It's been less than a week since Apple Computer used its annual developers conference to make several new product announcements, but once again sources are finding themselves encapsulated by the warm fuzzy feeling that typically emerges around the lead-in to major product revelations.

Based on various reports from around the world, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company this week is placing WWDC '06 in the rear-view mirror and shifting gears towards its fall product line refreshes, which are due to start turning up next month.

High-Security Freight Shipments

In particular, the company this week is said to be preparing for massive air-freight shipments from the Far East that are due to drop in the United States around the 5th of September.

Although sources were not specific as to what product(s) Apple is planning to move, the timeframe of the shipments coincides nicely with dates in which the Mac maker is believed to be ready to roll with its first Core 2 Duo-based MacBook Pro notebook systems.

iPod nano Line Nearing End-of-Life

Meanwhile, inventory management systems tied to at least one US-based big-box retailer are reflecting end-of-life notices for Apple's entire iPod nano product line on September 16th. Again, no further details on the subject were readily available.

However, September 16th is the precise date in which Apple's "Free iPod nano" back-to-school promotion is set to expire. This date also coincides with timeframes provided by sources in previous reports pertaining to the expected availability of the company's next-generation iPod nano.

Seagate Boasts of 120GB 1.8-inch Portable Hard Drives

In a tidbit so far unrelated any published reports on Apple's future product plans, Seagate CEO William Watkins recently told BusinessWeek that his company plans to introduce 1.8-inch drives in 60GB and 120GB capacities during the December calendar quarter.

1.8-inch portable hard drives are the same form factor drives used in Apple's current fifth-generation video iPod players. Seagate was previously a major component supplier to Apple during the days of the iPod mini, in which it equipped the company with 4GB, 5GB (capped by software at 4GB), and 6GB microdrives.

However, reading into Seagate's future product plans has not been fail-safe indicator of Apple's own product directions. For instance, in June of last year many believed Seagate's 8GB microdrive would find its way into an iPod mini update. Apple subsequently did away with the microdrive-based iPod mini altogether, introducing the completely NAND flash memory-based iPod nano that September.