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Friday, April 27, 2007, 03:35 pm PT (06:35 pm ET)

Resetting the timeline for Apple's ultra-portable initiative

An effort on the part of Apple Inc. to develop an ultra-thin and lightweight notebook with next-generation technologies such as on-board NAND flash may take a bit more time than initially reported.

The Cupertino-based firm's return to the sub-notebook market, as AppleInsider billed it in an exclusive report this past February, had the Mac maker scurrying to complete its initial design around mid-year.

Evidence suggested the Apple World Wide Developers Conference, which invades San Francisco in June, could have served as an ideal venue for company chief executive Steve Jobs to first flaunt the device. That's now unlikely to be the case.

Citing a maturing timeline, people familiar with the initiative now have the chic notebook tracking for the latter half of the year, with a contingency plan in place to transition the device into a Macworld 2008 product should engineers require the additional time.

Those sentiments were recently echoed by American Technology analyst Shaw Wu, who seconded AppleInsider's initial report with one of his own, only putting forth more relaxed expectations that had the diminutive Mac unlikely to surface until later in the year. 

It's unclear whether Apple's delay of Leopard, the company's next-generation version of Mac OS X, will have a renewed effect on the delivery of the sub-notebook — the Mac maker's first in over a decade. 

The compact portable is expected to draw on software support from the Leopard OS, now slated for October, for managing features such as onboard NAND flash. 

The addition of the solid state memory to the notebook's motherboard should improve power efficiency — and thus better battery life —  as well as facilitate near instantaneous boot times.

Another trait that may set the new Apple notebook apart from existing MacBook designs, people familiar with the project have said, may be the conspicuous absence of an optical disc drive. Although Apple's original plans for the notebook appear to have called for the drive's inclusion, it was later omitted, those people said.

For additional details on Apple's re-entry into the sub-notebook market, check out AppleInsider's earlier report.