iPhone 6 mockups. Source: 9to5Mac.
Supply chain bottlenecks and inventory shortages are fairly
normal occurrences for
. That storyline is nothing new for the Mac maker as it continues
to pursue innovative new manufacturing processes or industrial
designs in the quest for ever thinner and lighter devices.
Suppliers are "scrambling"
reported that Apple's iPhone 6 could be running into some
component shortages related to the display. Sources say that
Apple was hoping to move from two layers of backlight film to
one, which would allow for a thinner design.
But using one layer wasn't bright enough, so Apple reportedly
had to go with the standard two-layer design. That change has
cost the company valuable time throughout the summer, and
suppliers are now "scrambling" to produce enough units ahead of
the expected September launch. The downstream effects aren't
certain though, and the issue may or may not affect Apple's
launch timeline or how many it can produce ahead of launch.
Even if the iPhone 6 is scarce at launch, consumers are used
to possibly having to wait around to get their hands on the
A trip down memory lane
This situation is extremely common for Apple. It seems like every
year, some crucial ingredient faces low yields or otherwise
limits Apple's ability to produce enough to meet demand.
In 2012, it was the iPhone 5's
in-cell touch display
. That same year, Apple began using
, normally used in industrial aerospace applications, to make
thinner iMacs. That led to significant iMac shortages, as Apple
had introduced the new desktop months before it could begin
shipping. That was the only quarter since 2005 that Mac unit
shipments underperformed the broader PC market.
Last year, Touch ID sensor yields were reportedly low, which
held back iPhone 5s sales. That's also one reason why Touch ID
was not included in any 2013 iPad models. As yields have
improved, the fingerprint technology is now expected in Apple's
tablets this year. On top of that, Apple misjudged product mix
demand, expecting more demand for the iPhone 5c. The company had
to reallocate capacity to the iPhone 5s once it realized this,
which also took some time.
The iPad Mini with Retina display was also expected to see
some shortages last year, in part because Apple was trying to
avoid buying panels from Samsung. At the last minute, Apple
decided to bite the bullet and use Retina panels from its South
Korean frenemy in order to improve supply.
All's not lost
Previous reports have suggested that Apple is preparing for an
utterly massive iPhone 6 launch, ordering
70 million to 80 million
units from its suppliers. Hopefully, this reported backlight
issue doesn't threaten the magnitude of the launch.
The good news is that investors aren't fazed by the
possibility of iPhone 6 supply constraints, with shares
continuing to march higher. Investors have seen this same thing
play out time and time again, and the important thing is that
Apple customers are so loyal that delayed sales related to
constraints aren't lost sales.
Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to
guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the
public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some
early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the
the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million
of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small
company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock
price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know
investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart
Why Apple, Inc.'s iPhone 6 Could Be Scarce at
originally appeared on Fool.com.
Evan Niu, CFA
owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The
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