Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo exclusively told AppleInsider that the Mac maker has placed orders for the production of a total of 380,000 Sandy Bridge-based 11.6 and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs this month.
The analyst, whose industry checks have long provided accurate insight into the Cupertino-based company's future hardware plans, notes that roughly 55 percent (or 209,000) of those MacBook Airs will be of the 11.6-inch varieties, which have proven slightly more popular than the 13.3-inch offerings due to their more attractive entry-level price points.
In addition, Kuo notes that Apple plans to wind down production of existing MacBook Airs this month with a final run of 80,000 units, bringing the total number of MacBook Airs slated for production in June to 460,000.
The new thin-and-light MacBook Air launched in late 2010 with a new 11.6-inch model and a lower $999 introductory price. The device was an instant hit, and made the MacBook Air one of the most popular products in the Mac lineup overnight.
While showing off Mac OS X 10.7 Lion at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, noted that the Mac has outgrown the PC market every quarter over the past five years. He singled out the new MacBook Air as one reason why Apple has found such success while the rest of the market continues to struggle.
"It's beautiful, it's thin, it's light, it's fast," he said. "The whole PC industry wants to copy it."
He added that Apple has been leading in notebooks for awhile, and was the first major PC maker to drive a majority of their computer business to portable machines. Today, almost three-quarters of the Macs shipped by Apple are notebooks.
And a big part of that notebook lineup has become the MacBook Air. A person familiar with Apple's supply chain told AppleInsider in March that the ultra-thin notebooks were then selling in volumes roughly half that of MacBook Pros, as customers have embraced the thinner, lighter and less expensive offerings during a phase when computing is increasingly shifting to the mobile space.
Apple shipped more than a million units of the new MacBook Air in its first quarter of availability, but rumors of an upgraded model with Intel's latest generation Sandy Bridge processors quickly began to swirl as far back as February.
The new MacBook Airs set to go into production this month will move to to Intel's 32-nanometer Sandy Bridge architecture, with the chipmakers' latest ultra-low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 chips. With the upgrade to Sandy Bridge, which sport between 3MB and 4MB of Smart Cache and support a theoretical maximum of 8GB of internal system memory, the mid-2011 MacBook Airs will jettison two-year-old Penryn-based 45-nm Core 2 Duo chips found in the current offering.