Apple Suppliers See Second-Quarter MacBook Shipment Boost

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Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) MacBook product line is selling better than expected, according to the latest information from the company’s Taiwan-based suppliers. Per unnamed supply chain sources cited by DigiTimes, MacBook shipments will increase by 28.6 percent to 3.6 million units in the second quarter of 2014.

The new data contrasts with a previous MacBook shipment estimate provided by DigiTimes. In March, Taiwan-based suppliers predicted that Apple would only ship 10 million MacBook units in 2014, a year-over-year decline of 16.7 percent. However, based on the better-than-expected results during the second quarter, MacBook shipments are now expected to reach 12 million units in 2014.

Not only are MacBook shipment numbers higher than expected, but Apple’s notebook also appears to be bucking an overall decline seen in the market segment during the second quarter. “MacBook will perform better than notebooks launched by other vendors in terms of second-quarter shipments,” said DigiTimes’ supply chain source. “Shipments of other notebooks in the second quarter are expected to grow only slightly or decline on quarter.”

Apple’s increased MacBook shipments may have been sparked by the company’s recent decision to refresh its MacBook Air product line with a minor hardware upgrade and drop the notebooks’ prices by $100. According to Apple’s MacBook Air technical specification page, the new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models feature a 1.4GHz Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz instead of the 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz found in last year’s model. Meanwhile, the price of the entry-level MacBook Air dropped to $899.

“With MacBook Air starting at $899, there’s no reason to settle for anything less than a Mac,” said Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller in a press release. “Macs have never been more popular, and today we’ve boosted the performance and lowered the price of MacBook Air so even more people can experience the perfect everyday notebook.”

Although the new Intel Haswell processor boosted the MacBook Air’s processor speed, benchmark tests conducted by Macworld found that the new models showed a decrease in flash storage performance. It should be noted that Apple sources its flash storage drives from several different manufacturers, so MacBook Air models from the same year can have varying levels of performance.

While the latest MacBook Air refresh only featured a minor hardware improvement, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple will release a new “ultra-slim” 12-inch MacBook Air in the fourth quarter of this year, according to a research note obtained by AppleInsider. According to Kuo, the 12-inch model will combine the size advantage of the current 11-inch MacBook Air with the higher workload capability of the 13-inch MacBook Air.

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