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1/19/2006
02:31 PM
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Apple Warns Of Intel Laptop Shortages

Apple's habit of keeping its announcements secret is part of the problem, according to an analyst.

Apple Computer will likely run into shortages of its first Intel-based laptop when the machine debuts next month, company executives said as they laid out the Mac contribution to its most profitable quarter ever.

"We may not be able to meet the demand on the MacBook Pro," said Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, in a telephone briefing to analysts and reporters. "The limited number of weeks to ship [the MacBook Pro] in the second quarter, and the very strong response we've gotten means we may not be able to meet demand."

Peter Oppenheimer, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer and electronic maker's chief financial officer, used almost exactly the same phrasing in warning analysts that Apple's second quarter might suffer somewhat because of the shortage.

The MacBook Pro is Apple's first Intel-powered notebook, and will appear in two models, both with a 15.4-inch screen, an ATI graphics card, and a DVD-RW/CD-RW optical drive. Intel's Core Duo chip, a dual-processor CPU unveiled earlier in January, powers the MacBook; a model running a 1.67GHz Duo is priced at $1,999, while the model equipped with a 1.83GHz Duo (as well as a larger hard drive and more memory) costs $2,499.

"Shortages like this are one of the effects of Apple keeping announcements quiet," said Joe Wilcox, an analyst with JupiterResearch. "Many companies will begin moving product through the channel before an announcement. Sometimes you'll even see Microsoft software on store shelves before it's announced." But Apple, which historically keeps new product news close to its vest, doesn't have the luxury of pre-stocking the channel.

"The more people who know about it, the more chance there is of the secret getting out," said Wilcox.

There's another issue here, though, Wilcox continued: the fact that the new Apple laptop relies on a just-released Intel processor. "It's more than just Apple secrecy this time. There are a number of Core Duo notebooks that have been announced that aren't available," he said.

On Wednesday, in a conference call with analysts to discuss Intel's quarterly earnings, Intel's chief executive Paul Otellini blamed part of his company's weak performance on a shortage of supporting chipsets. Intel, however, did not specify whether Duo processors were among those impacted by chipset scarcities.

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