Is Apple putting the arm on ultrabook contract manufacturers?

Apple allegedly leaned on a company that assembles iPhones to stop making the Asus Zenbook, which presumably looks too much like a MacBook Air.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
Asus Zenbook UX31E.  A MacBook Air clone?
Asus Zenbook UX31E. A MacBook Air clone? Asus

MacBook Air
MacBook Air Apple

The Asus Zenbook looks enough like the MacBook Air that Apple is pressuring a contract manufacturer to cease production of the Zenbook, an Asia-based report claims.

Taipei-based Pegatron, an original equipment manufacturer, will not make the Zenbook for Asus due to pressure from Apple, according to a report in the Chinese-language Commercial Times.

Asus did not respond to a request for comment.

The report couches Apple's demand as a choice: either stop making the Zenbook or lose Apple as a customer. Pegatron has been assembling iPhones since last year and would prefer to keep that business, according to the report.

Pegatron's production run for the Zenbook will end as soon as March, forcing Asus to source the ultrabook from Compal or Wistron, the paper said.

Apple announced the original MacBook Air design in January of 2008 and revamped the design in October of 2010 (see photo above).

This report raises the obvious question, is Apple becoming uneasy about the crush of Windows ultrabooks hitting the market? It's possible, as some appear to take design cues from the Air. And more models coming out this year will be priced well below the least expensive Air.

Via Digtimes