9to5Mac: Apple’s Brick is a New Manufacturing Process

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The so-called Apple "brick" isnit a new, secret product. Rather, its a new manufacturing process for Appleis notebook computers, according to Seth Weintraub at 9to5Mac on Saturday.

9to5Mac, which predicted the aluminum iMacs, Fat nanos, iPod touch and ultra-thin MacBook Air, put it on the line Saturday with the proposal that the rumored "brick" is a new manufacturing process. Moreover, the process is what Peter Oppenheimer was obliquely referring to in the last Apple earnings report on July 21 when he said, in response to analyst Ben Reitzes:

"Ben, let me talk a little bit about what I would see beyond the September quarter for margin. As you know, we canit discuss future products, so the first part of your question that weire not able to answer today, weire delivering state of the art products at price points that our competitors canit match, which has resulted in market share gains in each of our products. We plan to continue this strategy and to deliver great value to our customers while making a reasonable margin, but not a margin so high as to leave an umbrella for our competitors. In addition, and one of the investments that we make is to introduce new products that initially cost more because they deliver an entirely new level of value to the customer. Then we ride the cost curves down with value engineering and volume manufacturing, leaving us far ahead of our competitors. We have some of these types of investments in front of us that I canit discuss with you today and we plan to continue to execute this strategy in the future. As we look beyond the September quarter, we would anticipate gross margins being about 30% in fiscal 2009. We are very confident in our new product pipeline, our growth opportunities and the decisions that weire making for our future."

Later in the meeting, Mr. Openheimer reiterated.

"We have some investments in front of us that I canit discuss with you today, where we are going to be delivering state of the art new products that our competitors just arenit going to be able to match and as a result, I would see gross margins being about 30%, and thatis all I can tell you at this point."

That "investment," according to Mr. Weintraub is a new manufacturing process that cuts the case of a MacBook out of a solid block of aluminum with laser and (high pressure) water cutting techniques.

"It is totally revolutionary, a game changer. One of the biggest Apple innovations in a decade," the 9to5Mac author and Computerworld blogger wrote.

The advantages, according to Mr. Weintraub, would be a sturdier frame with no screws, no seams, and it would be cheaper to build than with machining.

Such an investment in a new manufacturing process would call for an initial investment that would reduce gross margins slightly, but eventually allow Apple to undercut equivalent products from its competitors.

If Apple really does make a Macbook announcement on October 14, as rumors have suggested, the authoris prediction (and his source) will be put to the test.

Meanwhile, Microsoft, not to be outdone, has announced "The Rock," according to The Spoof!

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