Demand For Aluminum Chassis Could Cause 2012 Shortage

Intel and its OEM partners have stressed the need to keep ultrabook prices low, even if they disagree about the best way to do so, but demand for certain components could work against such efforts if the systems actually become popular. Consumers typically associate plastic bodies with lower-end, less valuable laptops, which makes aluminum a preferred metal for higher-end systems.

Unfortunately, demand for ultra-lightweight aluminum chassis could spike in 2012 and drive up prices as a result. Digitimes reports that the majority of ultrabook manufacturers have opted for aluminum, including Acer's Aspire S3, Lenovo's IdeaPad U300s, Toshiba's Portege Z830 and Asus' upcoming UX-series.

Manufacturers have already taken steps to raise their production levels and Intel has worked with chassis companies to find alternative metals or body styles. Ultrabook pricing is already a serious concern, with most companies selling systems above $1000, despite Intel's stated desire that such systems come in below that price point. Thus far, Acer is the only company to come in well below the $1K mark, the S3 is expected to debut in the US at $899.