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Rumor mill: Apple planning 802.11ac for Mac line

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) reportedly intends to add 802.11ac chips from Broadcom to its 2013 Mac computer lineup and is also planning to introduce a bevy of colors and screen sizes for its next-generation iPhone.

The Next Web, citing "sources familiar with Apple's plans," said the consumer electronics company will add Broadcom's 5G Wi-Fi-branded chips to its Mac devices, which include products such as MacBook Pros, iMacs and Mac minis. Nothing was said about adding the capability to other devices such as the iPhone or iPad, however.

Broadcom has been busy signing deals to incorporate its 802.11ac silicon into an array of products. "We see almost every major infrastructure customer--retail routers, even some gateways--has adopted 5G Wi-Fi, across the board: Linksys, Netgear, Belkin, D-Link, Buffalo in Japan. Every single player is using our chipset to do that," said Michael Hurlston, Broadcom SVP and general manager Broadcom's mobile and wireless group, during a Broadcom event last month.

Hurlston, who was quoted by The Register, also predicted that 802.11ac technology will be arriving in smartphones and tablets "in very, very early 2013." He added that "certainly by Mobile World Congress we'll see them on store shelves" The MWC will be held at the end of February in Barcelona, Spain.

In July, Broadcom introduced its first 802.11ac chipset for use in smartphones, tablets, ultrabooks and related mobile devices. The addition of the BCM4335 chipset to Broadcom's 5G Wi-Fi-branded portfolio made the company the first chip vendor to sample solutions based on the 802.11ac standard for every major Wi-Fi product segment. The vendor was already shipping chips for use in laptops and routers, models of which have already hit the market.

802.11ac operates exclusively in the 5GHz band and is said to offer peak data rates of 1 Gbps or more depending upon how it is implemented, compared to the 600 Mbps peak data rate possible via 802.11n.

Meanwhile, Computerworld reported the next iPhone will be introduced in May or June and is likely to include new colors as well as a larger screen size and possibly multiple screen-size options.

The article quoted Brian White, analyst with Topeka Capital Markets, who said in an interview, "A larger screen expands the market for Apple. Go to China, Hong Kong or anywhere in Asia and you'll see that the bigger Samsung phones are gaining momentum. Bigger has a little bit of a cachet in Asia."

Apple's 4-inch iPhone 5 is on the smaller end of new smartphone screen sizes as competitors increasingly dish out 5-inch smartphones.

White also said Apple's move in September to bring out the iPod Touch in red, pink, yellow and blue, in addition to the standard colors of black and white, lays the groundwork for adding colors to the iPhone. "After the Touch, they'll know which colors sell the best [and] how to juggle the inventory," he said.

For more:
- see this The Register article
- see this The Next Web article
- see this Computerworld article

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