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Friday, October 27, 2006, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Overseas pub causes commotion with new MacBook rumors

DigiTimes, which has historically been off the mark when it comes to predicting Apple Computer's future hardware directions, is floating a new rumor this week of a "15.4-inch MacBook" supposedly due for production by the middle of next year.

Citing unnamed sources at notebook manufacturers, the Taiwan-based publication on Thursday said Foxconn Electronics "will produce a 15.4-inch MacBook model for Apple for the first time, with shipments to commence in May 2007."

As a result of the move, Asustek will no longer be the sole supplier for Apple's MacBook line, according to the report. It states that, following the launch of 13.3-inch models earlier this year, Apple has now decided to push 15.4-inch notebooks.

The rumors are similar to those spun by analysts at Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia earlier in the month. According to that report, Foxconn had received notebook orders from Apple for volume shipments of one new MacBook model by the end of 2006.

The Credit Lyonnais report did not indicate whether the orders were for Apple's 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro professional notebooks or its consumer-oriented 13-inch MacBook models.

Offering yet another twist to the ongoing MacBook manufacturing saga — and possibly shedding some doubt on DigiTime's latest claims — are reports from the seemingly more reliable Commercial Times, which in August stated that Foxconn was most interested in building Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro high-end notebooks.

It remains unclear whether sources for the Taiwanese investment firms and trade publications have stumbled upon plans for Apple's future notebook directions or if they've simply confused the company's two MacBook lines due to similarities in the notebooks' naming schemes.