Rumor: Apple's 12-inch Retina MacBook Air enters limited production, may miss holiday release

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A rumor out of East Asia on Wednesday claims Apple's rumored 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina display has reached the manufacturing phase, though production will be limited to small batches until a gradual ramp in November.

Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's supply chain, DigitTimes reports partner supplier Quanta Computer commenced manufacturing of a much-rumored 12-inch Retina MacBook Air variant in October.

Production will supposedly limited to small quantities for the first month due to low yield rates, but Quanta is looking for ways to boost output, insiders said. For now, the ODM will hold steady until early November, when a gradual ramp manufacturing is expected.

Part of the hold up is blamed on the 12-inch Air's ultra-slim chassis — reportedly thinner than Apple's current MacBook Air lineup — and advanced internals which are posing a challenge for component suppliers. Aside from a slimmed-down profile, the 12-inch laptop is rumored to come equipped with a high-resolution Retina display, fan-less chassis for silent operation and a click-less trackpad. As a result of this ultra-compact design, Apple's new thin-and-light may include fewer inputs and outputs than current MacBook models.

Pointing to low initial output, sources said Apple may not ship the 12-inch MacBook Air before the lucrative holiday shopping season, suggesting a launch in early 2015.

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in April that he expects Apple to launch the 12-inch MacBook Air in quarter three, but more recent rumors suggest an actual launch might not happen until 2015.

The most recent rumblings claim Apple's 12-inch Retina MacBook Air will come in a variety of colors inspired by the iPhone product line, with choices including gold, space gray and "raw" aluminum.

Apple last updated its 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air lineup in April, though the refresh included only minor spec bumps and price cuts.