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Monday, April 20, 2009, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

Apple begins bidding for Mac netbook manufacturing contract

Long-time Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn is amongst the frontrunners to receive a contract to build a Mac netbook, according to a new report.

Building on earlier rumors, the Chinese-language Commercial Times is citing sources within the PC component supply chain who say Foxconn Electronics — the US trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry — "is in the running to land orders for a netbook from Apple."

Outside of adding that Mac maker's 13-inch MacBooks will become Foxconn's major growth contributor during the second quarter, no further details were included in the report, which was translated by DigiTimes.

The Commercial Times sparked a wave of speculation a little over a month ago when it reported that Taiwan-based Wintek would start shipping touch panels to Apple sometime during the third quarter of the year for the launch of an unknown netbook product.

A pair of sources speaking to Dow Jones quickly backed the report, with one saying the panels were sized "between 9.7-inches and 10-inches" while the other said specifications for the project were still "under evaluation."

News agency Reuters later jumped in on the action, claiming that its own sources were saying Apple would "take third-quarter delivery of newly developed 10-inch touchscreens from Taiwan."

While the specifics of these reports are up for debate, the product in question is believed to be one and the same with the long-running Apple Newton tablet project reported by AppleInsider back in 2007.