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Is Apple really readying a pint-sized MacBook Air?

A scaled-down MacBook Air would put Apple into territory traditionally occupied by netbooks.

By Matthew Shaer / July 15, 2010

The Apple MacBook Air is shown in 2008. Apple is reportedly readying a new MacBook Air with a much smaller display.

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Apple will release a scaled-down MacBook Air – kitted out with a 11.6-inch display – by the second half of 2010, according to the tech site Digitimes Research. If the Digitimes report is accurate, it would edge the MacBook Air, which currently features a 13.3-inch display, into territory traditionally occupied by Netbooks, the highly-portable, slimmed-down laptop computers.

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As PC World's Jeff Bertolucci notes, "Apple management in the past hasn't been shy about expressing its disdain for Windows-based mini-notebooks, particularly models in the sub-$500 price range." Of course, even in rejiggered form the MacBook Air will be too pricey to go head-to-head with a regular old netbook. But a sleek and super-slim MacBook would certainly look like a netbook – and carry like one, too.

The MacBook Air, which hasn't been updated much since its 2008 launch, is due for an upgrade, says Dan Ackerman at CNET. "Though it has its devoted fans, the MacBook Air has never seen the same widespread acceptance as the more popular MacBook series," Ackerman writes. A new iteration of the MacBook Air line could help shake up interest in the Air, a highly-lauded – if somewhat pricy – machine.

In the same report, Digitimes predicted that Apple will also soon release a new iPod Touch, with a 3-megapixel camera equipped to shoot HD video and the same A4 processor as the iPhone 4.

Back in May, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty argued that netbook demand had reached an all-time high in 2009 – but had barely increased at all after the launch of the Apple iPad. Huberty argued that iPads could also be having a negative effect on consumer demand for other devices, including electronic readers such as the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.

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