Evidence points to 3G radios in MacBooks, Tablets?

From the rumor mill to the evidence mill....

I heard from an Apple source last month that Apple laptops were going to get a slight update this summer.  There was speculation that update might be a 3G wireless radio added to MacBooks. 

Today, I have some  evidence to share.  According to a recent job posting (woops - it has been taken down - great sign - here's another copy),  Apple is looking to hire QA Engineers to test Macintosh hardware with 3G wireless WAN cards.    According to the job posting, the position is in the Mac Hardware Group (so it isn't iPhone or iPod lines):

The Comms Software QA team within the Mac Hardware Group is seeking a motivated QA engineer to perform quality assurance testing for new Apple CPU Products.

Then it goes on to say that the QA engineer is going to be 

Testing and reporting hardware, software, and device driver bugs for Communications technologies including AirPort (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth v2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and/or 3G Wireless WAN in a detailed, timely manner.

It then goes on to list, as a requirement,

- Must possess in-depth knowledge of one or more Comms technlogies, including Gigabit Ethernet for consumer and enterprise-class workstations, Bluetooth v2.0, 3G Wireless WAN, and Wi-Fi [802.11] a/b/g/n including all associated security modes, authentication types and protocols for Access Points and Clients.

Interesting.  All of the same specs as a current MacBook, except with 3G wireless.

qualcomm-gobi-chip.jpg

Whether this is the mythical tablet or just an update to the MacBook/Air/Pro line isn't clear.  I doubt that the tablet would have Gig Ethernet, especially since the MacBook Air doesn't have it built in.   The QA tester could be testing across all lines.

What is clear is that Apple is testing 3G wireless hardware in new Apple CPU products in the Mac group.  And if they are in hurry-up "time pressure and stress" software QA mode at this point, it means that we'll see some hardware relatively soon.

Recent reports have had Apple cozying up with Verizon so perhaps this hardware will be the EVDO variety.  It could even work on both types of US 3G networks with a Qualcomm Gobi wireless radio.  That would allow Apple customers to use any of the wireless carriers in the US as well as the most international 3G carriers.

Wouldn't that be a nice WWDC surprise?

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