Apple seemed to show almost callous indifference to the economic climate last week, introducing refreshed Mac mini and iMac desktops with starting prices as steep as ever. To be fair, cheap PCs and tight margins aren't really Apple's thing. That's why we're surprised to see DigiTimes say Apple has already picked suppliers for an upcoming netbook.
Quoting a separate report by the Commercial Times, DigiTimes writes that Apple has chosen Wintek to supply touch panels and Quanta to produce the actual system. (Quanta is one of Taiwan's biggest contract manufacturers.) Shipments will begin in the third quarter of this year, so Apple could have the netbook ready in time for the back-to-school sales rush. You know, if this report holds any water at all.
DigiTimes doesn't offer any specifics, but Apple's past comments give some hints of what a Mac netbook might look like. In January, Apple COO Tim Cook said of sub-$500 netbooks, "[those products] are principally based on hardware that's much less powerful than we think customers want, software technology that is not good, cramped keyboards, small displays." Steve Jobs also promised "some pretty interesting ideas" should his company join that market.
Couple those statements with DigiTimes' report, and a device centered on touch input seems almost like a given. Considering Apple's track record, though, you can probably count on a Mac netbook costing considerably more than typical 10" Eee PCs.