Apple-Designed PowerBook Trackpad Spells Concern for Parts Supplier

In a research note sent to clients Monday, Bear, Stearns & Co. cautioned that Appleis relationship with trackpad manufacturer Synaptics, Inc. is possibly in question following last weekis introduction of updated PowerBooks. Appleis new PowerBook line-up features a new trackpad that supports scrolling functionality, akin to the scroll wheel found on mouse and trackball devices.

According to Bear Stearns, the new trackpad is not being manufactured by Synaptics, which has historically been Appleis sole supplier of such devices. Synaptics trackpads have been featured in iBooks, PowerBooks, and iPods.

"There are a lot of unknowns but what we do know is that TrackPad is not Synapticssi solution, nor is it Alps Electricis, Synaptics main competitor," Bear Stearns analyst Andrew J. Neff said in the note, obtained by The Mac Observer. "Rather, it is a multi-ASIC solution that appears to have been developed by AAPL internally. However, keep in mind that we do not know 1) if there a change in AAPLis strategy and 2) whether this will lead to a change in strategy for iPod."

While Mr. Neff noted that PowerBook orders comprise only 2% of Synapticsi notebook trackpad revenue, the firm lowered its current year price target from $53 to $49 to reflect the possible changes in Appleis sourcing strategy. In Appleis most recent quarter, the company shipped 152,000 PowerBooks, 271,000 iBooks, and 4,580,000 iPods. Should Apple move its iBook and iPod lines to its custom trackpads, the effect on Synaptics bottom line could be significant.

Neither Apple nor Synaptics commented to Bear Stearns. Shares of Synaptics are trading down about 12% today, to $34.70.

No Comments

Log-in to comment