Apple's vaunted well-oiled supply chain "could be" buckling, skewing, grinding to a halt. Across the board.
The source for the news of this dramatic breakdown is a StreetInsider.com story based on a report by Jefferies stock analyst Peter Misek, "who recently visited Apple's Asian suppliers." Misek concludes that the "rumored iPhone 5S will most likely be delayed" from an expected July date for start of sales. "Misek also said that the possible low-cost iPhone launch could be pushed to this year's fourth quarter and an iPhone 6 probably wouldn't come out until 2014."
The 5S delay is caused by unidentified "preproduction issues" and "mass production [is] at least a month or more away." And let's not forget the "publicly discussed delay of iOS 7," according to CNET's Kerr. That might sound as if Apple has been talking about this, but she's actually referring to a recent online discussion by several tech bloggers and Apple watchers, some of whom said they've heard that iOS 7 is "behind schedule," a terms which means something different from "delay." (More on this distinction later.)
In any case, the preproduction issues and the iOS delay "puts a July availability at risk," according to Misek. Finally, Misek, using what's called the "Royal We," concludes, "We continue to believe there is almost no chance the iPhone 6 launches in CY13 [calendar year 2013] due to supply chain issues."
But the bad news doesn't stop there. Because "the iPhone 5S delay is expected to affect production of other Apple products too," according to CNET's Kerr. "Misek said the iPad Mini refresh will also be pushed back and that he didn't see any evidence of a possible iWatch in production. The iPad 5 refresh could happen, said Misek, but he believes the volumes will be low. Finally, he said that an iTV for 2013 is unlikely."
Kerr doesn't pull any punches. "If Misek's calculations are correct, there's most likely some gnashing of teeth in Cupertino as Apple works to get a new product in the pipeline as soon as possible," she writes.
The StreetInsider version carries a very few additional details, including this also unsupported statement by Misek: "Apple seems to be facing material technology risk with its screen [technology] transitions causing yield issues and its app processor transition facing possible ramp issues at TSMC."
This statement refers to two still-unsubstantiated claims, or fears or hopes, depending on your viewpoint. First, that Apple is making a major shift in its screen technology for the next phone and tablet products, and that manufacturers are having trouble hitting production targets for the new displays. Second, that Apple's transition to designing its own processor cores, instead of licensing those provided by ARM, is having similar problems because it's shifting processor manufacturing from Samsung to rival TSMC and the latter is, again, having manufacturing problems.
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