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Friday, June 24, 2011, 05:40 am PT (08:40 am ET)

Apple planning for new MacBook Airs in July, A6 processor in 2012, and 15M iPhone 5s

Apple's component suppliers have begun taking the necessary steps to begin volume production of new MacBook Airs next month as rumors swirl over which firm will secure a deal to manufacture the company's next-generation mobile processor, dubbed the A6.

Thunderbolt MacBook Airs

Citing sources in Apple's upstream supply chain, DigiTimes reported Friday that component suppliers for the Mac maker will "will run in full gear" next month, preparing parts and components for the company's new generation of MacBook Airs due to launch this summer.

The report corroborates a July time-frame for the Thunderbolt-equipped notebooks first published by AppleInsider this month, citing its own sources. Those sources added that the new Airs have been cleared for production for some time, but that Apple management is unwilling to introduce any new Mac models to market until the company can image the computers with a finalized copy of Mac OS X Lion, similarly due next month.

Shipments of new MacBook Airs are expected to help push Apple's 2011 notebook production to a total of 15 million units, up from a previously estimated 13 million.

"Shipments of parts and components for MacBook lineups totaled an equivalent of 2.2-2.4 million MacBooks in June, and orders for July are likely to top 2.7-2.8 million units," DigiTimes wrote in its report, citing sources.

However, the same report somewhat dubiously suggests Apple will "take deliveries of over eight million MacBook Airs in the third quarter" of the year, which would represent a more than two-fold increase in quarterly notebook shipments for the Cupertino-based company before even its flagship MacBook Pro line was factored in.

Only twice has Apple surpassed the 4 million milestone for Macs shipped in a single calendar quarter, and in both cases by a small margin, making an estimate of eight million MacBook Airs in a single quarter seem far-fetched, and likely erroneous.

MacBook Air


For its part, AppleInsider cited its own sources as saying Apple's initial production run of Thunderbolt MacBook Airs will come in around 400,000 units during their first month on the market, yielding an expected quarterly run rate of just north of 1 million units.

Apple's A6 processor

Meanwhile, a second report published by the Chinese-language Commercial Times on Friday offers the first hints towards a time-frame for Apple's third-generation mobile processor, dubbed the A6.

According to the report, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) "stands a good chance of winning orders" for the A6, which is scheduled to turn up in Apple's 6th-generation iPhone and 3rd-generation iPad sometime in 2012.

Such a move would signal a loss for Samsung Electronics, which Apple has partnered with for the production of the A4, which found its way in the iPhone 4, and A5, which made its debut inside the second-generation iPad and is expected to turn up in the iPhone 5 later this fall.

First month iPhone 5 production

If DigiTimes' sources are accurate, Apple will split an initial production run of iPhone 5s this fall between Foxconn and Pegatron Technology, who will reportedly combine to manufacture a total of 15 million units ahead of launch and through the handset's first 4 weeks on the market.