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  • Alleged iPhone 6 Production Problems: Nothing New!

    August 26th, 2014

    In recent years, there have been loads of unconfirmed reports about alleged production issues with new Apple gear, particularly the iPhone. This is not unexpected, since Apple is famous for devising sophisticated manufacturing processes, requiring cutting-edge components, and thus supplies are frequently constrained when the product is launched. I wouldn't be surprised if the same issues impact the iPhone 6.

    That a problem appears during the design and manufacturing ramp up, however, doesn't mean that a product must be delayed. It doesn't necessarily mean that production levels won't be sufficient to mostly meet demand, and not having quite enough isn't a bad thing from a marketing point of view.

    Sure, it may just be that these reports are true, that they are based on information from the supply chain that's accurate in and of itself, but doesn't reveal the entire picture. Each bump in the road may be exaggerated to hint at a larger problem, whereas it's also true that Apple has multiple suppliers for some parts. This means that, where one supplier is running into trouble delivering the needed quantities, other suppliers may be asked to do more.

    So it may also be that early production tests may reveal potential problems in the manufacturing process. So the production is stopped until the fixes are at hand. Again, leaks about such interruptions may be true, but that may still be a normal part building an entirely new product with unique or innovative manufacturing requirements.

    The speculation about the iPhone 6 mentions two sizes, and even seasoned Apple watchers essentially agree that there will be a 4.7-inch version and a phablet configuration of 5.5 inches. Some suggest the smaller version will come out right away, while the real problems impact the larger version. Maybe.

    It also makes sense that Tim Cook, an old hand at managing production issues, will put enough slack into the process to accommodate the occasional glitches and delays. So everything may very well be on track, but it's not as if Apple gets a pass from the critics who desperately seek bad news, or possible bad news.

    Another problem is that most of us really couldn't understand supply chain data. That was particularly true in late 2012, when stories arose that Apple, because of alleged huge cutbacks in production of the iPhone 5, had problems selling them. This news helped fuel a huge drop in the stock price, and the intense speculation that the company was in trouble.

    At the end of the day, iPhone 5 sales remained high. There was no problem, and Cook reminded financial analysts, at one of Apple's quarterly conference calls, that you could not understand the entire supply chain based on one or more metrics. It wasn't so simple, but few bothered to change their tune.

    Understand this doesn't mean there are no production difficulties with the iPhone 6. It may well be that Apple has encountered unexpected issues in the initial ramp up that will delay introduction, or keep qualities real low.

    So I'm not surprised that there's been a similar round of speculation about the rumored iWatch. Sure, there may be an iWatch in the offing, and sure Apple might have encountered roadblocks in perfecting a workable design. But, aside from admitting an ongoing interest in wearables, such a product really doesn't exist yet. There have been scattered rumors, still, about what Apple is working on, along with other rumors that the introduction might have been delayed until some time in 2015.

    But nobody really knows when or if such a product will come to be, or Apple's internal timetable to have the iWatch available for sale. As a practical matter, it would be real nice to introduce such a gadget well in advance of the holiday season, and I suppose Apple's critics would feel vindicated if something really went wrong.

    There's no evidence, though, of any delays, or even the form and functions of an iWatch. To suggest otherwise is just to advance the speculation without any real proof.

    Still, unconfirmed reports about such problems can serve the interests of those whose agendas do not favor Apple. So there may be the hope that the stock price will be depressed, or that potential customers of the iPhone 6 might expect a delay and choose to buy someone else's product instead.

    At least that's the theory.

    Of course, I sometimes believe that at least a few of the people who talk down Apple really want to see the stock price go down, so as to serve their personal needs and enhance their wealth. It's a theory, of course, and perhaps there is little evidence that it's true, but you have to wonder about the people who speak out against Apple with total falsehoods. Worse, after those falsehoods are exposed for what they are, they are repeated again and again as if nothing has changed.

    I can make the same statements about certain politically charged comments that fail to pass a routine fact check, or deliberate efforts to quote someone out of context (sometimes with edited TV clips) to advance an agenda. But this is not a political column, though sometimes you can't avoid the subject.

    In any case, if Apple's September 9th iPhone rollout really happens, we'll know the truth before long.



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    One Response to “Alleged iPhone 6 Production Problems: Nothing New!”

    1. dfs says:

      "Of course, I sometimes believe that at least a few of the people who talk down Apple really want to see the stock price go down, so as to serve their personal needs and enhance their wealth. It's a theory, of course, and perhaps there is little evidence that it's true, but you have to wonder about the people who speak out against Apple with total falsehoods. " Probably true. I suspect there's a long and contorted story about how various people at various times have used press leaks, rumors, etc. etc. to nudge the value of AAPL up or down, as their needs have dictated.

      For example, it's not unlikely that before Steve came back as CEO some Apple execs were playing that game by issuing well-timed leaks about upcoming products (the ones associated with OS 9 were particularly blatant) in an effort to kite the value of the shares they held. When Steve came back that nonsense abruptly halted, and it's not unlikely that his famous mania for secrecy originated in his disgust at the hanky-panky he had found going on when he showed up.

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