Citing industry sources, the publication said the new model will fill the gap between the company's 13.3-inch MacBooks and the 15.4- and 17-inch MacBook Pros in an effort to boost shipments of the Intel-based notebooks.
MacBook shipments, which enjoyed substantial gains in the second half of 2006, will reach 700,000 units in the first quarter of 2007, according to the report. Meanwhile, expectations for unit shipments for the remainder of the year are said to be 'even greater' following the introduction of the 15.4-inch model.
"Prices for the 15.4-inch MacBook models are likely to be more competitive than their 13.3-inch counterparts, due largely to the relatively lower cost of 15.4-inch LCD panels, and will therefore help push further sales of MacBooks," the publication said.
While iPod and electronics maker Foxconn (Hon Hai) was rumored to have been in the running for the lucrative 15.4-inch manufacturing contract, it was eventually unsuccessful, DigiTimes added. Instead, MacBook Pro maker Quanta Computer is reported to have landed the winning bid and will join Asustek Computer as a second supplier of MacBooks.
The accuracy of the report is currently unknown, as DigiTimes has historically been inaccurate in its predictions on Apple's future hardware directions. However, it should be noted that one of the publication's most recent claims, regarding the use of LED backlit displays in a future MacBook Pro designs, is reportedly accurate.
According to AppleInsider's own sources, Apple next quarter will introduce a revision to its 15-inch MacBook Pro that will mark a gradual transition away from cold cathode fluorescent backlights (CCFLs) and towards LED backlights.
The LED backlight implementation will allow for improved notebook battery life and displays that will maintain their initial levels of brightness longer into their respective life-cycles.