Thunderbolt MacBook Air Shipments Hit 500,000

Apple introduced its new Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air on Wednesday after releasing OS X Lion, and only a day later shipments of the ultra light laptop have already climbed between 400,000 and 500,000 units, according to DigiTimes.

MacBook AirApple’s updated MacBook Air

Unnamed supply chain sources claim Apple began stockpiling new MacBook Air units in June to be ready for the Wednesday launch. Those same sources said that demand for additional inventory is expected to remain high through August.

Those 500,000 units aren’t all, however, shipping directly to customers. Some are on their way to resellers and Apple’s own stores, too.

The new MacBook Air includes the same Thunderbolt port found on the MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini, uses an Intel Core i5 processor, brings back the backlit keyboard, and continues to use the same form factor found on the previous 11-inch and 13-inch models. Pricing for the MacBook Air starts at US$999.

Estimates based on Apple’s orders so far hint that total MacBook Air sales for 2011 could hit 14 million units.