Apple Set To Launch 15-inch MacBook Air As Early As March

There can be little argument that Apple’s MacBook Air line of ultra-thin, ultra-portable notebooks has been a success. Despite initial skepticism when the first 13" model launched with slow hardware and super small hard disks, the last two iterations have offered a much more robust machine.

Add the new 11" model to the equation, and Apple has taken the netbook market it crushed with the iPad, and reinvented it. Most agree that the 11" MacBook Air is the perfect machine for any road warrior, and the fact that this post is being written on one, sat in the driving seat of a car, should go some way to proving that pretty conclusively. Don’t worry, we’re stationary!

Apple has also made no bones about the fact that they see the Air line of MacBooks as the future of all notebooks, and with that in mind we’re now hearing reports that the Cupertino firm is set to launch the biggest MacBook Air yet, with a 15" model penciled in for a March 2012 release.

The news comes from the often reliable, even more often unreliable source that is DigiTimes. The report claims that some ‘up-stream suppliers’ have begun shipping parts to Apple – parts they believe will become part of a new, larger MacBook Air. Those suppliers also name the second quarter of 2012 as a possible release date for the product, though that could obviously mean later than March.

Estimated by the product planning, mass shipments of the notebook device will start in March and could be cataloged in either the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro line.

What is unclear is whether the new machine will continue to be SuperDrive-free. Existing 11" and 13" models of the MacBook Air do not feature an optical drive, but that is largely due to space limitations inside that svelte chassis. With a screen as large as 15" that chassis will obviously be larger, potentially leaving room for a SuperDrive, though we suspect that Apple is more likely to begin removing optical drivers from more machines, rather than adding them to new ones.

We’d love a 15" MacBook Air here at Redmond Pie, and we’re sure everyone else would do. Quite where this would leave the MacBook Pro line, remains to be seen, though. Will Apple eventually do away with the Pro moniker, and simply have a line of Airs, or will the Pro stay as the top-of-the-range speed demon for those that need a little more oomph?

Looks like we’ll need to wait until March to find out.

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