A report by Digitimes reveals rumors that Apple's new 12-inch MacBook Air will go into mass production in this year's third quarter, according to upstream supply chain sources.
The 12-inch MacBook Air laptops will fill in the gap between the 11-inch and 13-inch versions. It will also give Apple a firmer hold on the leadership in the ultra-thin notebook market.
The 12-inch MacBook Air will not only have a different-sized screen. While the laptop model will have an industrial design similar to the other versions with a unibody aluminum chassis, it will also undergo changes in the design of the battery and the device's internal layout.
In addition, it is expected that the 12-inch version will have the Retina display feature.
Quanta Computer will be the company responsible for the assembly of Apple's 12-inch Macbook Air laptops, the sources added. As for the 11-inch and 13-inch versions of the MacBook Air, there are no changes reported so far.
The sources also said that the cause for Apple's decision to produce a 12-inch MacBook Air is to differentiate between the MacBook Air and iPad tablet product lines. The screen size of the 11-inch version of the MacBook Air is similar to that of the iPad, and the increase in the sales of the iPad is having a negative impact on the demand for the MacBook Air.
Given this reason, it would be assumed that Apple will eventually stop production on the 11-inch MacBook Air to complete the differentiation. However, the sources said that Apple has not made any decision regarding any changes or adjustments to the 11-inch model. A phasing out of the model in the long term, however, seems like a logical decision.
Reports on the possibility of Apple producing a 12-inch MacBook Air surfaced earlier this year in March. It was rumored that the updated version will have the aforementioned Retina display, along with a fan-less design and a solid trackpad that has no mechanical button.
Apple has solid experience in devices that have no internal fan but do not overheat. All of Apple's iOS devices are fan-less, which increases their battery life. The reason for Apple's reported move to a solid trackpad, on the other hand, is unclear. The component will most likely use a filed patent by Apple for a button-less trackpad that utilizes an actuator along with sensors to imitate the function of current trackpads.
The release of the 12-inch MacBook Air is expected to be in the middle or end of this year's third quarter.