Apple could use its Oct. 20 event to unveil a new version of its MacBook Air, a superthin notebook praised for its design-and occasionally damned for what some consider an exorbitant price and missing hardware features.
According to AppleInsider, unnamed "independent sources" confirm that Apple will debut a redesigned, 11.6-inch MacBook Air with an SSD Card in place of a traditional hard drive. AppleInsider postulated that this SSD Card could be similar to the flash memory technology found in Apple's mobile products such as the iPhone and iPod. That would give the laptop more of an instant-on capability.
Other news sources such as Fast Company have suggested Apple could introduce touch-based technology to the Mac lineup. That theory seems based on recent patent filings, including one for a PC capable of shifting between touch-screen and traditional keyboard and mouse input.
Apple sold 3.47 million Macs during the third fiscal quarter of 2010, but the company's mobile products-particularly the iPad-have attracted the lion's share of attention this year. Nonetheless, the company's laptops and desktops remain a core revenue driver, one due for a periodic tech refresh. According to analytics company Net Applications, Mac holds 5.03 percent of the operating system market, dwarfed by Windows with 91.08 percent.
Apple has already sent out media invites for its Back to the Mac event at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters Oct. 20. The invite includes a partial image of a lion's face, peeking through an apple-shaped cutout in a brushed-aluminum pane. That same aluminum constitutes a major part of Apple's design language for its laptops and desktops, sparking rampant speculation that new hardware will be unveiled at the event.
The invite also promises attendees a glimpse of "the next major version of Mac OS X." The presence of a lion has led dozens of online Sherlocks to deduce that Apple will reveal Mac OS X 10.7, code-named Lion, at the event.
Apple's last event took place Sept. 1, when the company debuted new iPods and a revamped Apple TV along with some new services, including a social network devoted to music.
Rumors of a revamp began to circulate this summer, with DigiTimes analyst Mingchi Kuo claiming the new MacBook Air would feature a slimmer design and an 11.6-inch display. The current MacBook Air boasts a 13.3-inch screen and a choice of 1.86GHz or 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors. Kuo's predictions were apparently based on discussions with "upstream component makers."
Despite the MacBook Air's ultrasleek design, critics have taken jabs at the device's relatively high price-$1,499 for the 1.86GHz version, and $1,799 for the 2.13GHz-and lack of hardware such as an internal optical drive. However, that hasn't stopped rival manufacturers such as Dell from producing "superthins" of their own.