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Monday, May 28, 2012, 06:06 am PT (09:06 am ET)

Production ramp of Apple's next-gen MacBooks creating labor shortages in China

Anticipated demand for Apple's redesigned line of 2012 MacBooks is reportedly so strong that the company's Far Eastern component suppliers are facing a labor shortage as they race to produce enough parts to supply the Mac maker's production lines.

That's according to Taiwanese rumor publication DigiTimes, which added that the shortages come in the face of preemptive efforts by some of the suppliers to outsource production of their component orders in order to be able to meet the "strong orders from Apple" for the new notebooks, due "in the near future."

"Component manufacturing plants in eastern China have been suffering from labor shortages for a long time, and although May and June are the IT industry's traditional slow season when shortage issues are usually not as significant, the strong orders from Apple's new MacBook are leaving many upstream makers unable to satisfy demand."

Some of these part suppliers began delivering their first wave of components for the company's new MacBooks as early as April, with shipments for the notebooks' new chassis reportedly increasing this month. The supply chain is expected to ramp even faster next month ahead of a 'possible launch' of the computers by Apple in July.

In total, DigiTimes said suppliers expect Apple's total MacBook orders in 2012 to jump from 12.79 million in 2011 to between 16.24 and 19.2 million in 2012 — a run rate that would see Apple sell an average of over 4 million notebook systems each quarter. By comparison, Apple sold an average of 3.2 million notebook systems per quarter in 2011.

MacBook Lineup

An illustration of Apple's notebook lineup planned for the 2012 calendar year | Source AppleInsider.


No where in its report does the publication indicate whether its sources are referring to updated MacBook Airs or a completely redesigned line of MacBook Pros that have long been reported to adopt similar enclosures and design traits.

However, a quick analysis of the production figures outline in the article suggests the sources are referring to combined production of both new MacBook families, as Apple in January reported total sales of 12.87 million notebook systems during calendar year 2011, which roughly coincides with the 12.79 million production figure.

More details on Apple's plans for its 2012 notebooks can be found in AppleInsider's MacBook Air and MacBook Pro information archives.