Exclusive: iBook speed bump ahead

In its efforts to quash rumours about product leaks, Apple itself releases details about its consumer laptop update

New information obtained by ZDNet News confirms details of a forthcoming speed bump to Apple Computer's iBook -- details that were, ironically enough, featured in documents Apple filed last week in its effort to clamp down on what it says are leaks of trade secrets.

Meanwhile, the rumour mill is humming over alleged plans for a complete makeover of the consumer portable Mac expected to debut next spring.

Independent sources told ZDNet News that Apple plans to announce the interim iBook revision within the next two months. The "P 1.5" or "Rev. B" line of iBooks will remain largely unchanged from the current model but will feature PowerPC G3 processors at speeds up to 466MHz, built-in DVD support, one FireWire port and 8MB of video RAM.

The current line tops out at 366MHz, includes 4MB of VRAM, and lacks FireWire or DVD.

While the laptops may feature new colors that echo the latest iMac hues, sources said the P 1.5 models won't include a larger display or significant changes to the iBook's industrial design.

A report in the Chinese-language version of the Taiwan-based DigiTimes newspaper also included information about the speed-bumped iBook.

According to DigiTimes, it will go into manufacturing this summer by Taiwan's Alpha Top, which built the original line of iBooks. The article said that the new revisions will feature only a "minor change" and should be announced in September.

In addition, DigiTimes said, Alpha Top is preparing to churn out Apple's next-generation iBook, code-named "P2". According to the paper's sources, P2 will be thinner and lighter than the current model and feature a totally new industrial design.

In a surprising turn of events, the information on the P 1.5 iBook gained momentum as the result of Apple's legal steps to block the postings of an anonymous poster using the name "Worker Bee" on the bulletin boards of the AppleInsider rumours site.

As reported in a CNet article, Apple's suit, filed last week in California's Santa Clara County Superior Court, named "Worker Bee" as one of up to 25 John Does the company said has caused the company damage by posting pre-release details of Apple's latest mouse and multiprocessor Power Mac desktops.

The legal documents also included notes from Apple security official Robin Zonic that, according to the CNet report, mentioned postings from Worker Bee about "detailed specifications for an as-yet unreleased Apple product".

A search of Worker Bee's postings on AppleInsider's boards turned up notes about only three Apple products: its new mouse, the multiprocessor desktops and a new iBook that would feature "up to 466mhz, dvd, 1 firewire port, 8mb of vram, screen size will remain the same. Don't know about new colours... yet."

Zonic didn't specify where the third product was mentioned, however, leaving open the possibility that Worker Bee had revealed different information elsewhere.

Apple's suit, filed 2 August, claimed that distribution of such information is a violation of Apple's trade secrets. The next day, Santa Clara County Superior Court judge Gregory Ward signed Apple's request for an order compelling Yahoo! to share with Apple its records on Worker Bee, who allegedly posted similar information about yet-unannounced Apple products on a GeoCities Web page. (Yahoo! owns GeoCities.)

Lynn Fox, corporate PR manager for Apple, said she had no comment on Apple's suit or its iBook plans.

Jason D. O'Grady, Go2Mac.com, contributed to this report

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