New iBooks may be around the corner

Summary:Heightening speculation that it will soon debut a new version of the iBook, Apple Computer has halted sales of the consumer laptop on its online store.

Heightening speculation that it will soon debut a new version of the iBook, Apple Computer has halted sales of the consumer laptop on its online store.

The iBook, which had been reported in short supply from distributors, is now listed at the Apple online store as "temporarily unavailable," a designation that typically precedes a new product launch.

Apple has scheduled a May 1 press event with CEO Steve Jobs but has offered no details. Sources have told CNET News.com that the computer maker is readying a slimmer version of the iBook following the success of Apple's Titanium PowerBook G4.

One source who has seen a prototype of the new iBook said the unit resembles the Titanium laptop far more than it does the current curvy, bulky iBook. The prototype, which may or may not be cosmetically similar to those ultimately sold to consumers, was all white including the keyboard and trackpad.

Supplies of the iBook have run low recently. Distribution giant Ingram Micro had only a handful of the laptops left last week, according to sources.

If "Apple has run the iBook inventory to zero and there are no back orders, then that means new models are coming," industry analyst Chris LeTocq said at the time.

Apple last revamped the iBook at September's Apple Expo in Paris, adding faster chips, more storage and a DVD drive to the high-end model. The two versions of the iBook have been selling for $1,499 and $1,799.

There has also been speculation that Apple may use the event next week to discuss its plans for retail stores. Several locations are said to be under development, with Apple apparently eyeing stores in Palo Alto, Calif.; Chicago; Minneapolis; and Littleton, Colo., among other locales.

An Apple representative was not immediately available to comment.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops

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