Further consolidation may be afoot in the motherboard market. According to SemiAccurate's Charlie Demerjian, Asus has made a takeover bid for smaller mobo vendor ASRock. Word is that Pegatron, ASRock's parent company, is "fine with the terms"—but the news isn't yet official.
ASRock is hardly a small player. In 2010, the company slipped ahead of MSI to become the world's third-biggest motherboard maker. Its shipments totaled eight million units, compared to 18 million for Gigabyte and 22 million for Asus. MSI and ECS, which didn't make the podium, both shipped around seven million boards that same year.
Purchasing ASRock could substantially increase Asus' presence and cement its status as top dog in the industry. SemiAccurate's Demerjian even fears the consolidation could force smaller players out of the ring, leaving only Asus and Gigabyte standing.
ASRock actually started out as an Asus subsidiary. According to a Taipei Times story from 2007, ASRock was established in 2002, "targeting entry-level products to avoid competition with its parent company." As I understand it, ASRock was subsequently spun off, along with Asus' manufacturing operations, into Pegatron. ASRock still offers cheap budget motherboards, but its lineup also includes decked-out high-end offerings with lofty price tags. Example: the Z77 Extreme9, which sells for a whopping $349.99 at Newegg.