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Wednesday, July 18, 2007, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)

Apple struggling to meet demand for new LED-lit notebooks

An ambitious move on the part of Apple Inc. to be amongst the first PC manufacturers to adopt eco-friendly LED backlit displays for its notebook designs is thus far causing the company slightly more grief than good.

The Cupertino-based Mac maker, which refreshed its MacBook Pro systems with Intel's Santa Rosa-based underpinnings during the first week of June, has yet to catch up with demand for the new LED-lit 15-inch models. In recent weeks, in fact, the firm appears to have fallen further behind.

The Apple online store, which once estimated delivery of the 15-inch models at 5 to 7 business days, has recently push those ETAs out to 7 to 10 business days. In favoring its own channels, the company has managed to funnel a trickling supply of the notebooks into its own retail stores. However, that has left most third party vendors on hold.

Some high-volume Apple dealers tell AppleInsider that thousand of units have remained on backorder since early June, while others claim they've yet to receive a single shipment of the new notebooks. In speaking to these dealers, Apple representatives have reportedly identified the new 15-inch LED backlit display panels as the root of the problem. However they stopped short of indicating whether the holdup is a result of an ongoing quality issue or simply supply constraints associated with the relatively new display lighting technology.

"In stock soon. Order now to get in line," online retailer Amazon.com has been telling customers shopping for the 2.4GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro. "First come, first served." Meanwhile, those looking for the entry-level 2.2GHz model are quoted slightly more favorable wait times of 4 to 5 days.

Over at OnSale.com, things aren't much different. The online discount shop, which is offering $150 mail-in-rebates on both current and previous generation MacBook Pros, had been completely out of stock for the past five weeks. Only in recent days has it begun reflecting immediate availability of the 2.2GHz model. Again, however, the retailer recommends that customers call in to check on availability of the 2.4GHz models.

Apple's move towards LED-backlit displays for its MacBook Pro systems is part of a broader company-wide commitment toward a greener Apple. Unlike traditional fluorescent-lit LCD display panels, which contain minute amounts of mercury, the new LED-lit panels are free of the potentially harmful toxin.

MacBook Pro Family of Notebooks


The Mac maker has said that it plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury altogether by transitioning to LED backlighting for all its computer and consumer electronics displays "when technically and economically feasible." Its next foray into the realm of LED backlit mobile computing is expected to arrive later this year in the form of an ultra thin, ultra portable 13-inch design.

Given that both Wall Street analysts and AppleInsider have recently cited rising Mac sales — particularly in the notebook department — as recent growth drivers for Apple, it begs the question of how many more units the company could be pushing if it could truly meet demand.