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Apple rumored to offer next-gen MacBook Airs with black finish [u]

Apple is rumored to offer the option of a black finish on its next-generation Sandy Bridge powered MacBook Air ultraportable notebooks expected to arrive in the near future, but the source publication has posted an update shedding doubt on the rumor.

Update: Emails sent to the publication from an alleged Apple employee claim Apple experimented with black powder coated MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, but Apple CEO Steve Jobs "killed the idea" because the coating soaks up body oils. "At some point we may offer a black coating, but it won't be powder coat, and it won't be anytime soon," the tipster wrote.

Citing "several anonymous tips," MacRumors reported on Monday that Apple will will offer "at least some models" of its next MacBook Air with a black finish. That would be different from the aluminum currently found on all MacBook Air models.

"The most specific of the claims suggests that a black anodized aluminum case would be available on a top-end MacBook Air model, in much the same way as Apple once offered a high-end black MacBook on top of the standard white offerings," the report said.

Author Eric Slivka said the site is "unable to confirm the rumors," but given the fact that numerous tips have been received, the information was shared "for interest and discussion."

Last week, AppleInsider revealed that Apple is expected to hold off on introducing any new Mac hardware until Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, its next-generation operating system, becomes publicly available. Lion will become available in the Mac App Store for $29.99 in July, but it is believed that any new MacBook Air models would ship with the operating system preinstalled.

AppleInsider also learned that Apple is ready to build nearly 400,000 next-generation MacBook Airs this month in preparation for the anticipated launch. The new hardware is expected to sport Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors, as well as the new high-speed Thunderbolt port codeveloped by Apple and Intel.

The new thin-and-light MacBook Air launched in late 2010 with a new 11.6-inch model and a lower $999 introductory price. The device was an instant hit, and made the MacBook Air one of the most popular products in the Mac lineup overnight.