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Thursday, October 14, 2010, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

Apple component allocations point to new form factor sub-notebook

Activity within Apple's supply chain throughout the better part of 2010 has shown signs that the Mac maker is gearing up to introduce a new notebook that doesn't fit into any of its existing hardware designs, according to one Wall Street analyst.

In a note to clients on Thursday, Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said a new MacBook Air from Apple appears increasingly likely to make an appearance during next Wednesday's special "Back to the Mac" event, which is set to take place at 10:00 am local time on the company's Cupertino campus.

"Our checks with supply chain sources over the last 6-9 months have indicated evidence of a new subnotebook form factor," he wrote. "We had thought it would be released earlier this year but believe it may finally see the light of day as the new MacBook Air."

Meanwhile, other "industry sources" have reportedly informed the analyst that Apple is making much progress in the area of "true" multi-touch Macs. Such products are believed to be more feasible today than ever, given the success of the 9.7-inch iPad which is believed to be helping to bring down the cost of touchscreens and substrates, which have previously been prohibitively expensive.

"The next logical step is to extend the technology to a touchscreen similar to that offered on its iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and iPod nano," Wu wrote. "We are not sure if this technology is ready for primetime but perhaps we could get a sneak peek."

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The analyst also claims that the next version of Apple's iLife application suite, which his "sources have indicated has undergone extensive testing," could be unveiled along with a preview of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" and possible speed bumps to the MacBook and MacBook Pro line.

Generally speaking, Wu's expectations closely conform to those published by AppleInsider in recent weeks. The Kaufman Bros. analyst maintained his Buy rating and $374 price target on share of Apple.