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Initial monthly shipments of the notebooks will be between 100,000 and 150,000, sources at Apple's overseas supply chain partners told DigiTimes. Though the new MacBook Pros will ditch the optical drive, the updated notebooks will feature "more advanced specs" than the MacBook Air, suggesting that the 13- and 15-inch Pro models will continue to exist alongside the Air.
The new MacBook Pros are said to feature stronger CPU performance and larger storage capacity than their MacBook Air counterparts. Shipments of the new notebooks to Apple will begin this month, the report said.
As suppliers ramp up production of the new MacBook Pro, monthly shipments are expected to eventually reach 900,000 units, well up from the current numbers in limited production.
Supply chain sources suggested that the new MacBook Pro models might arrive around the same time as new Windows Ultrabooks also based on Intel's latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors.
This week, a pair of reports suggested that Apple will debut a new MacBook lineup in April based on Intel's Ivy Bridge processors. In particular, Much attention has been paid to a new 15-inch notebook model. Reports have differed on whether it will be a 15-inch MacBook Air, expanding the thin-and-light product line to a new form factor, or if it will simply be a new MacBook Pro with a thinner profile.
One report on Thursday claimed that Apple will debut a new, thinner 15-inch MacBook Pro based on Intel's latest Ivy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. It was said that the new MacBook Pro would still be thinner than the different MacBook Air lineup.
That was somewhat in contrast to a separate report issued on Wednesday that claimed Apple was to launch a new 15-inch MacBook Air in April, "effectively killing the Pro." It was suggested that the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Air models could even completely replace their MacBook Pro counterparts in the same screen sizes, leaving only the 17-inch MacBook Pro as the only "Pro" laptop from Apple.
Whether Apple's new 15-inch notebook is known as a "Pro" or an Air," the model has been rumored since last year. Like the MacBook Air, it is expected to lack a built-in optical drive and Ethernet port, as Apple continues its push for digital distribution of software through the Mac App Store.
AppleInsider reported in February that Apple is gearing up to introduce radically redesigned MacBook Pro models this year, borrowing the super-thin design the company has pioneered with its MacBook Air. One person familiar with the new MacBook Pro designs said "they're all going to look like MacBook Airs."