Apple is rumored to be working on a new MacBook device with a more affordable price point. But a new report suggests that the notebook could be delayed.
The Cupertino tech giant has reportedly pushed back mass production of the entry-level device until the second half of the year, DigiTimes reported on Monday. Originally, production was scheduled to start in the second quarter.
Presumably, the delayed timeline means that the new device is unlikely to be unveiled at Apple’s 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Since the company typically launches new Mac hardware at the event, it’s not clear how or when Apple will debut its entry-level MacBook Air device.
It could still announce the new MacBook in June but begin shipping the device later on in the year. That’s similar to how the firm launched its iMac Pro last year.
DigiTimes’ sources within the supply chain told the publication that Apple gave no explanation for the rescheduling. However, some of those sources speculated that the deal could be tied to key component problems.
The new MacBook, which could be launched as a successor to the MacBook Air lineup, is expected to sport the latest Intel CPU, an overall slim design, and Apple’s Retina display technology. Some previous rumors indicated that the device could feature a 13-inch display.
As far as price point, the available information differs. But the DigiTimes report corroborates the rumor that the entry-level MacBook Air could retail for a sub-$1,000 price point. The Taiwanese publication predicted that the base-level MacBook could be priced at $899 or even $799.
In any case, the new device’s more affordable retail price could boost overall Mac sales by 10 percent year-over-year. A previous forecast by KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo estimated that the bump could be as high as 15 percent through the end of the year.
Market watchers also forecast that the device could help Apple regain some market share from other budget notebooks, including Google’s Chromebook lineup.
Several of Apple’s key suppliers have reportedly readied enough materials to begin producing the new MacBook Air in the second quarter. But because of the pushed-back production, those supply chain partners could suffer from low capacity utilization, the sources said.
The delayed timeline could have another effect on Apple’s supply chain. Namely, because production of Apple’s new iPhones will also begin in the second half of 2018, assembly and supply plants in China will face stiff competition to hire enough workers to support the increased workload.
An entry-level MacBook Air is just one of several upcoming Apple devices that are expected to feature a lower price point. Other possible products include a lower-cost HomePod, a midrange 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, and a successor to the 4-inch iPhone SE.
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