Apple will debut the first of its Intel-based iBook consumer laptops at the Macworld Expo in January, according to Apple rumour site Think Secret.
News of a possible January launch does come as a surprise as Apple had not been expected to deliver its first Intel-based machines until the middle of next year.
The story would appear to have credibility as Think Secret says the information came from the same sources that enabled it break the stories over the Mac mini and photo iPod.
Details are still, however, sketchy as there is no information on what processors will be used, although Intel's forthcoming Yonah processor, successor to the Pentium M, would seem to be the likely choice according to Think Secret.
Apple is expected to extend its iBook line with one further model, which, if earlier rumours are to be believed, is a new widescreen version. Apple is also thought to be preparing significant price cuts in an attempt to wean users away from their Windows dependency.
It is interesting that Apple will seemingly chose to launch its consumer line on Intel chips first, rather than its professional line-up of PowerBooks and Power Macs.
No doubt this is down to performance issues created by problems with legacy third party software. Whilst developers are hard at work creating x86 compatible versions, current PowerPC versions will have to use Apple’s Rosetta emulator software.
This will entail a performance drop, which is likely to be less critical for consumers than Apple’s professional users, hence launching the iBook first seems a sensible move.