Apple and HTC shortages warned after unibody supplier suffers downtime

An Apple supplier has warned that unexpected factory downtime could well impact MacBook Air production, as well as possibly supplies of certain HTC smartphones. The manufacturer, Chinese firm Catcher Technology Co., was forced to temporarily close a production facility after nearby residents made complaints of a "strange odor" seemingly coming from the plant, the WSJ reports. "Shipments to our customers will inevitably be affected" company president Allen Horng confirmed in a press conference.

"We already asked [customers] to make adjustments to their [casings] procurement" Horng continued, though whether Apple and others will be able to find alternative supplies at short notice is unclear. Apple's MacBook Air ultraportable uses a specially milled unibody aluminum chassis that allows the company to significantly reduce bulk and weight; a similar milling process has also been featured in some high-end smartphones from HTC.

Both companies may struggle to keep to their own production timelines now, however. Catcher says there is no known date when the production line will resume work, as it depends on the plant passing a local government inspection. Total shipments from the company will likely drop 20-percent this month because of the downtime, Horng revealed, warning that could rise to 40-percent in November if the factory is still not in operation.

Neither Apple nor HTC have commented on the issue.