The production ramp-up for Apple's next line of MacBook Pro and Air portables, said to be well underway for a debut in the near future, is such that upstream supply chain vendors are struggling to find qualified workers, Taiwanese trade paper DigiTimes reports. The website, known for its uneven record on Apple information and speculation, says the mostly eastern-China-based component plants are short-handed.
Apple has been well-known as a company that demands extremely high quality on tight schedules wrapped in secrecy, and reports have been circulating for a while that the expected refresh of the portable line is expected to increase demand and thus require even more manufacturing capacity than the company's popular notebooks already require. Some component makers are reportedly outsourcing their own orders in an effort to meet shipping and quality demands. The sources quoted in DigiTimes' report claim that Apple will be ordering up to 50 percent more notebook products than it did last year, when it ordered nearly 13 million units. If true, this could mean an additional million Macs sold each quarter in 2012. The production woes for the portable line are exacerbated by the still-growing demand for iPads and iPhones. A refreshed MacBook lineup has been anticipated since just before the announcement of shipping Ivy Bridge processors from Intel in mid-April. The processors themselves are considerably more energy efficient and also more powerful, but rumors of other new features including higher-resolution "Retina Display" screens, USB 3 or Blu-Ray support, and a thinner, more MacBook Air-like design among other changes have kept anticipation high. It is hoped that the company will make announcements about updated machines at the forthcoming sold-out Worldwide Developer's Conference in San Francisco, which will run June 11-15. In addition to possible hardware announcements, the conference is expected to reveal more details about the next version of OS X, dubbed Mountain Lion, as well as the future iOS 6 update.