Apple has permanently severed ties with SurfaceInk, after the design company showed off a 12.1" tablet computer at a trade show. The two companies worked together for nearly a decade, and although confidentiality agreements prevent SurfaceInk frmo revealing what work it did for Apple over the years, it's believed that the company had a hand in the design process of the iPod series.
It appears what really got Apple enraged was when SurfaceInk showed off a prototype 12.1-inch tablet computer at a trade show. Apple apparently viewed the tablet as enough a threat to kill its relationship with the long-term partner -- probably about as good an advertisement for the device as possible.
Apple is overly protective of the iPad, in part, due to the fact that it's the last hardware product that it makes that remains the dominant player in a growing market. The iPhone is being left behind by an army of Google Android smartphones and still remains behind Blackberry maker Research in Motion. And the iPod series has generally seen sliding sales in the past couple years.