SurfaceInk’s 12.1-inch tablet reference design may have won them headlines when they demonstrated the Ubuntu-powered slate back in June, but it also lost them Apple as a client. CEO Eric Bauswell confirmed to the NY Times that, because of “Apple’s growing awareness of our turnkey capabilities,” the two companies had “gone separate directions.” SurfaceInk won’t define exactly what they did for Apple – the company does engineering work for firms like Palm and HP – but it’s their relatively fledgling turnkey business that alienated the Cupertino firm.
Started as a sideline five years ago, that product licensing branch had initially grown stealthily, using word of mouth rather than any more direct advertising. However, SurfaceInk brought their prototypes to the Freescale Technology Forum earlier this year – the reference design uses a Freescale i.MX51 800MHz Cortex A8 chipset – to improve their industry profile.
That move, Bauswell claims, was instrumental in Apple seeing SurfaceInk as a potential competitive threat, subsequently breaking ties with the firm. Back in June, the company claimed that, should interested manufacturers step forward, they could have commercial products based on the reference design shipping by Q1 2011.