Apple’s grip on metal chassis supplies leaves PC ‘ultrabook’ makers in a lurch

“Apple barely has to worry about weaponizing its patent for the design of the MacBook Air, as its grip over the supply chain is already putting the hurt on potential ultrabook competitors,” Christina Bonnington reports for Wired.

“All current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models employ a unibody aluminum chassis, an industrial design component that PC makers have started to emulate,” Bonnington reports. “The Air’s thin, light metal housing is particularly en vogue, and many PC manufacturers want the same type of chassis for their ultrabooks. But according to a recent report from DigiTimes, overseas suppliers can’t deliver these metal chassis quickly enough, which is bad news for Apple competitors.”

Bonnington reports, “‘Apple has really consumed a considerable portion of the currently available [manufacturing] capacity because they use the casings exclusively in their notebooks,’ IHS principal analyst Tom Dinges told Wired. ‘Not to mention, Apple’s notebook volumes have grown considerably faster than the overall market the past few years, which adds even more strain to the available capacity for these casings.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Aww, the slavish copiers’ toner cartridges have run dry.

Related article:
Windows PC assemblers struggle as Apple locks up metal chassis supply – June 26, 2012


  1. As I recall, Apple invested in thousands of CNC machines to create unibody chassis. That is the real story – Apple looks ahead and prepares for its future needs. Th PC industry has had several years to copy the MBA and Intel even kicked in $400M to incentivize “Ultrabook” makers, but they still failed to invest in the infrastructure needed for volume production of unibody portables. Instead, they will all complain that Apple is unfairly locking up the supply to prevent competition. Totally bogus, but many people will likely buy into it including some clueless politicians. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an FTC investigation launched on this topic later this year.

    1. Competition is good when the participants are credible. But when fools and lazytards are given this luxury, they don’t innovate but blatantly copy wholesale and this gives competition a bad taste in the mouth. This we have seen repeated over and over again in the past 25 years where Apple innovates and the competition, if we are generous to call them as such, just copy and avoid a ton of research expenses. That is why one-time prestigious companies such as HP, Dell, Compaq who took the short-cut method fall flat on their faces.

  2. This is rehash of DigiTimes “news” that was already posted here. Equipment that is used by Foxconn for Apple products is exclusive for Apple. And the equipment that is used for other customers is separate.

    So slow production rates of competitor cases has nothing to do with Apple’s manufacturing.

      1. Yes, they tied up the aluminum unibody production market. They even bought the machines used to make unibodies with a prepayment of future unibody purchases.

        The thing is, they did it long before any manufacturer was looking for unibody production.

        Apple was the only entity looking for unibody production and they bought all they need without hurting any other manufacturer.

        No monopoly abuse here.

      1. Twilight,
        Apple is only securing the highest quality aluminum supplies to insure quality Apple products. The info came from a NY Times article on June 24, 2012 titled: “With Tablet, Microsoft Takes Aim at Hardware Missteps.’

        Therefore, while Apple’s products will be made out of the highest quality aluminum, the new MS Surface will likely be made out of old beer cans. How appropriate!

    1. There is an aluminum smelter in Canada with it’s own hydro electric dam and generators.

      The electricity they make is worth more than the aluminum they can produce.

      As a result, they are selling electricity and not producing aluminum.

  3. Also going on today RE- MacBook Air vs UltraRips:

    Taiwan worries new Apple patent could target ultra books

    Last month, Apple received a U.S. patent for the exterior wedge-like design of its MacBook Air devices. The intellectual property office of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, however, worries the patent could create legal problems for ultrabooks, given that the laptops also feature thin and light designs similar to the MacBook Air.

    HEY, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs! Patents mean you can’t ripoff someone else’s industrial design. So maybe you should consider telling computer companies to not RIPOFF patents instead of worrying about lawsuits after they do.

    It’s only logical. Or is that too confusing for you? Perhaps it is because of your proximity to that criminal nation to your west.

  4. I love the MDN take on slamdung LOL😄

    As for the moaners, what a bunch of cry babies, there is plenty of aluminium for everyone, especially in russia and africa and south america, why dont they invest there and get it done with

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