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Monday, February 13, 2012, 08:53 am PT (11:53 am ET)

Apple reportedly squeezing supplier to stop building MacBook Air clones from Asus

Apple has reportedly asked Pegatron, one of its overseas device assemblers, to "choose sides" and stop producing the MacBook Air-like Zenbook from Asus, or else lose Apple's business.

Apple's apparent aggressive strategy with Pegatron was detailed on Monday by China Times (via Google Translate). It was said that Apple executives are upset because of the "high similarity" between the MacBook Air and the Zenbook from Asus.

It is expected that Pegatron will comply with Apple's demands, and Asus will move production of its thin-and-light Zenbook laptop to Compal or Wistron. That would allow Pegatron to continue production of Apple's hot selling MacBook Air.

The Asus Zenbook is one of a line of computers based on the "Ultrabook" specification spearheaded by chipmaker Intel. After the first Ultrabooks hit the market last year and saw soft sales, manufacturers began slashing prices to undercut Apple's MacBook Air.

Intel's Ultrabook class aims to bring "tablet-like features" to thin-and-light notebooks, but manufacturers have struggled to keep prices down. One report last year said that Apple's control of its overseas supply chain, particularly with respect to metal chassis, was a roadblock for PC makers.

Zenbook


Apple is so bullish on the success of its MacBook Air lineup that the company is expected to bring features from its ultraportable laptop to the high-end MacBook Pro lineup this year. AppleInsider detailed last week how a radical redesign of the MacBook Pro will make the company's 15- and 17-inch professional laptops look more like the MacBook Air.