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Wednesday, December 31, 2008, 08:45 am PT (11:45 am ET)

Quanta to manufacture Apple netbooks in 2009 - report

Apple is in talks with one of its Taiwanese system manufacturers to begin manufacturing netbooks sometime next year, according to a recent report out of the Far East.

An article published by the Taiwanese Government Information Office on Monday cites Quanta vice chairman and president C.C. Leung as saying his company expects to see considerable growth in the global netbook market during the 2009 calendar year thanks to a flurry of new contract orders.

U.S.-based HP and Sony of Japan are said to have signed new netbook manufacturing agreements with the original systems manufacture this quarter. The report adds that in addition to "orders from existing brand clients as Acer, Lenovo, Hewlett Packard and BenQ, Quanta is expected to add Sony [U.S.] and Apple as clients for the contract manufacture of netbook computers in 2009."

Quanta shipped a total of 9.7 million netbooks during the third quarter of 2008 to its various customers but is expecting sales of the budget notebooks to remain relatively flat for the fourth quarter, which ends shortly.

When asked recently about the prospect of an Apple netbook, chief executive Steve Jobs was quick to downplay the offerings as a "nascent category" in the portable computing market, saying the devices are off to a slow start. However, he noted that his company would be prepared to enter the market should it pick up.

"As best as we can tell, there's not a lot of them being sold," he told analysts during an October conference call. "But we'll wait and see how that nascent category evolves, and we have got some pretty interesting ideas if it does evolve."