The high-profile Apple business with Asian contract manufacturer Pegatron Technology is facing scrutiny as the iPhone-maker is reportedly exercising its supply chain influence by asking Pegatron to drop new Ultrabook orders from Asustek or else it will lose orders for iOS devices. According to today’s article in Chinese-language Commercial Times, the similarities between Apple’s MacBook Air and Asustek’s Zenbook (released last year) instigated the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm to demand that Pegatron choose sides. As you know, the unique unibody metal enclosure of Apple’s notebooks is manufactured by Catcher Technology.
Pegatron currently assembles Asustek’s ultra-thin Zenbook family, but it will stop doing so by the end of March. As a result, Asustek will have to outsource the Zenbooks to either Compal Electronics or Wistron. Pegatron only recently landed iPhone orders and is hoping to assemble iPads, too. The Japanese blog Macotakara reported last month that Pegatron and Foxconn began assembly of iPad 3 for an early-March launch.
Even though the initial batch of Ultrabooks largely disappointed, upcoming models are looking to close the gap with lower prices and a unibody construction. Chinese-language Apple Daily reported in January (via DigiTimes) that Pegatron landed orders for at least five Ultrabooks by second-tier brands set to ship in April or May. One tiny interesting bit: Pegatron is an Asustek spin-off that happens to make Ultrabooks for other vendors, too.
Apple’s MacBook Air (left) and Asustek’s Zenbook (right). Image vie Ecoustics.com