Has Apple’s New 12-Inch MacBook Model Hit a Production Snag?

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Two new reports from Taiwan’s hit-or-miss Economic Daily News suggest that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may soon be refreshing its existing MacBook Air product line, while the launch of a rumored new 12-inch MacBook model may be delayed due to a component supply constraint.

According to Economic Daily News’ supply chain sources, components for both of Apple’s current 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models are currently being sent to Taiwan-based manufacturer Quanta Computer for assembly. New components for the refreshed MacBook Air models include “processor chip, chassis, bearing shaft, screen” and other parts. The new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models are expected to be ready to be shipped out by the end of August.

Apple updated its 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models earlier this year with a minor hardware boost in the form of a slightly faster Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Haswell processor and a price drop that made the 11-inch entry-level model a more affordable $899. However, the notebook computers have not received a major hardware overhaul since last year.

The last major MacBook line upgrade was introduced at the Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013, when Apple unveiled new MacBook Air models with fourth generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors that boosted the battery life of the 13-inch MacBook Air from just 7 hours to 12 hours. The 11-inch MacBook Air’s battery life was similarly increased to 9 hours. Both models were also upgraded with faster solid-state drives and the next-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol capability. While it’s not known what upgrades Apple will introduce this year, assuming that Economic Daily News’ sources are correct, the revamped 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models should become available for purchase by the end of the third quarter or the beginning of the fourth quarter.

In a separate report, Taiwan’s Economic Daily News claimed that the launch of a long-rumored 12-inch version of the MacBook was being delayed due to a shortage of Intel’s 14-nanometer Broadwell processors. Per the supply chain sources, the chipset shortage will push the release date for the new 12-inch MacBook to the end of the third quarter of this year, or even into 2015.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first predicted that Apple would launch a new 12-inch version of its MacBook laptop last October. In a note to investors obtained by Apple Insider, Kuo said the 12-inch MacBook would feature an “ultra-slim clamshell form factor” and will “redefine laptop computing once again following the milestone created by the MacBook Air.”

More recently, an anonymous leaker posted additional technical details about the product in a WeiPhone.com forum seen by MacRumors in March of this year. In that post, the leaker said that the 12-inch MacBook will lack the usual fan assembly and feature a new type of trackpad without the typical mechanical button.

While it is impossible to confirm this leaker’s claims, MacRumors noted that the same leaker has previously posted accurate information about other MacBook hardware. Although Economic Daily News’ sources claimed that the launch of the 12-inch MacBook may be delayed, it should be noted that the earlier release date offered by the sources aligns with a previously predicted launch date given by KGI Securities’ Kuo.

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