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Friday, June 01, 2007, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Apple preps MacBook Pro updates, launches online outlet

Several bits of anecdotal evidence have turned up in recent days to suggest that it won't be long before Apple refreshes its professional notebook line with speedier models. Meanwhile, tipsters note that the company has launched its new online outlet store.

MacBook Pro updates

With last month's rather mild 13-inch MacBook refresh in the rear-view mirror, Apple is believed to be in the final preparatory stages of launching a more significant update to its professional line of MacBook Pro notebooks.

The new 15- and 17-inch portables, which AppleInsider began detailing back in January, are expected to borrow several architectural enhancements from Intel Corp.'s Santa Rosa platform while also introducing L.E.D.-backlit displays to the 15-inch models.

According to an industry source who has filed accurate reports in the past, Apple ramped down production of its current MacBook Pros a few weeks ago. The source notes that pending orders for new models in regions that require custom parts — such as alternative keyboard layouts — have been on backorder for a number of weeks with a estimated delivery date of "early June."

The source added that a similar series of events played out last year, ahead of Core 2 Duo updates to the then Core Duo 13-inch MacBooks.

At the same time, a second — albeit unverified — report claims that Apple this week accidently fired-off an email communication regarding the impending MacBook Pro updates to its major U.S. distributors and high level dealers.

The e-mail, titled "Setup info for new SKUs," purportedly contained new part numbers, product dimensions, palette makeup, and pricing information. The shipping weight for the two 15-inch MacBook configurations was listed at 10lbs (approximately the same as the 10.4lbs listed for current models), while the shipping weight for the 17-inch model was listed at 11lbs (compared to 11.6lbs).

A price list accompanying the communication was said to reflect no changes from today's MacBook Pro pricing.

Within minutes of sending the e-mail, Apple reportedly sent out a second communication calling the first message a "mistake" and asking that the information contained therein be discarded.

Apple Outlet Store

Meanwhile, Apple this week launched its Apple Outlet — essentially a branded and remodeled section of its online store reserved for the sale of clearance items and refurbished products.

Apple Outlet


The update drew particular interest amongst tipsters, who noted that the outlet launched with a Mac section stock-full of refurbished Core Duo and Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. Discounts on the refurbished notebooks ranged from 18 to 41 percent, hinting towards a final inventory clearing ahead of new models.

The Apple Outlet also launches amid reports that Apple has canceled monthly fire sales at some of its brick-and-mortar retail stores. This may imply that a larger majority of returns and open box retail items will now be funneled back through the company's Elk Grove facility in Sacramento for repackaging and sale online.