Thunderbolt Displays now shipping to end users

…in New Zealand anyway.  One 9to5Mac reader said that the Thunderbolt Display he ordered on August 17th was now en route to his home.  If anyone else has a shipping display let us know in the comments or at tips@9to5mac.com.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this shipment information is that these displays aren’t shipping directly from China as most Apple products do. They are shipping from a holding spot in Australia (below) perhaps indicating that the wait on these displays isn’t because of hardware, but in fact software, which, incidentally was updated last night on Thunderbolt MacBook Pros and Mac Minis.

Peripherals aplenty as Apple preps to ship its Thunderbolt Display

Usually, when a brand new industry standard debuts on Macs, there’s a period of shortage before compatible devices begin trickling in. Thunderbolt is no different. Intel partnered with Apple on Thunderbolt earlier this year and it took Apple several months to update its notebooks, iMac and Mac mini families with Thunderbolt I/O. The offering of supported peripherals was initially limited to Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt cable, LaCie and Promise RAIDs, Matrox gearBlackMagic’s solution for field video editing and a couple other devices.

Following Intel’s release of the Thunderbolt development kit, more companies are announcing Thunderbolt-ready products. By the way, 9to5Mac, MacRumors and other publications received tips that Apple began shipping its new $999 Apple Thunderbolt Display to stores. Now, among the upcoming Thunderbolt gadgets, Magma’s ExpressBox 3T, seen in the above image, caught our attention. Basically a three-slot expansion chassis allowing any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac to connect to PCIe 2.0 cards, the box also lets you power up your MacBook Air’s integrate Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with any PCIe graphics cards, useful if you’re going to do some serious video-related work or play latest games on your Air. The accessory is to be demoed at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum which runs September 13 – 15 in San Francisco.

Magma joins Sonnet, which also unveiled a similar Thunderbolt box last month. The $150 Sonnet ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt adapter accepts ExpressCard peripherals and also expands your Air’s connectivity with eSATA, USB 3, Firewire 800, Gigabit Ethernet and SDXC and CF cards. More product highlights after the break…

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Project “Fatih” could see Apple build fifteen million iPads for Turkish schools

Apple, Microsoft and Intel are locked in a bid for a contract to supply Turkish schools with up to fifteen million iPads. The government-funded project is nick-named “Fatih”, a Turkish word for “conqueror”. The government will require the winner to build the tablets and/or peripherals in the country, however. This little nugget has been officially confirmed to Anatolia news agency by the country’s trade minister Zafer Caglayan. Bloomberg has the story:

Apple officials told Caglayan during his visit to the U.S. that the Cupertino, California-based maker of smart devices may also decide to use some Turkish manufacturers to make some peripheral equipment such as covers, earphones for its iPad and iPhone models, Caglayan said at a news conference with Turkish reporters in Seattle, according to the Ankara-based agency.

Frankly, we somehow don’t see Apple building fifteen million iPads in Turkey as the country may lack the manufacturing capacities necessary to produce such a precisely engineered gadget that is the iPad. As for Microsoft and Intel, the Windows maker “may inquire about the project” and Intel could be interested in opening a research and development center in Turkey.

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Apple threatening to leave Intel behind for next MacBook Air (A6?)

(Substitute PowerPC for Intel and Intel for ARM)

There are a lot of people who think Apple is going to eventually move its “Mac” line to iOS. In fact we found it curious when Apple turned ‘MacOSX’ to ‘OSX’ as of Lion earlier this year.

Steve Jobs and Apple in general are very sensitive to CPU power issues with their push to make high end devices thinner.

As part of the WSJ article on Intel spending $300 million on developing MacBook Air alternatives (a hint in itself – why does Intel need to create competition for its own Air), it was revealed that Apple was threatening to leave Intel’s ‘low power’ processors if they didn’t drastically cut power.

Welch said Apple informed Intel that it better drastically slash its power consumption or would likely lose Apple’s business. “It was a real wake-up call to us,” he said.

What are the alternative processors for the MacBook Air? AMD? Not likely (though not impossible).

The big alternative is a platform switch to ARM which certainly schools the Atom Chip in terms of power consumption. It would also mess with a lot of non-App Store Apps built on legacy code.

But, you know Apple would love to create a cheaper, thinner, more power efficient iAir type of hybrid device that still operated like a laptop. In fact, Lion seems to already be heading in that direction.

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Apple cutting prices internationally on upcoming Mac hardware

We’ve been getting word from some international Apple retailers that not only are MacBook Airs, Minis and White MacBooks getting updated soon, but those Macs are also going to see modest-significant price drops in some countries we’ve polled.  While we can’t get into the specifics of where and how much, we can tell you some models are being reduced more than the equivalent of $100.

A few things to consider: One, the US Dollar has dropped significantly against Pacific currencies like the Japanese Yen and Korean Won (below) in the past year.  Apple has in the past adjusted its products against currency fluctuations.

Also, Apple has been streamlining operations across the globe over the past few years and has been able to bring its prices more in line with US prices.

While these price drops are great news for our friends overseas, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to price drops in the US.

But we wouldn’t rule price drops out either, there have been unreliable reports of a $899 base price of a MacBook Air. Read more

New MacBook Air features (Poll)

New MacBook Airs are right around the corner and just about everyone is expecting to see a Thunderbolt port, FaceTimeHD and Sandy Bridge processors.  Apple could even update storage and RAM pricing.

But what else could these new Airs have under the hood?  Put your answers below and any additional items in the comments.

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