iPhone 14 availability at risk as production prep falls behind schedule – Nikkei – 9to5Mac

May 25
Ben Lovejoy
– May. 25th 2022 4:29 am PT


iPhone 14 availability is at risk in the worst-case scenario, says a new report today, as preparatory work for production has fallen behind schedule.
Apple and its suppliers are said to be working hard to make up for lost time, but this is proving “challenging” given COVID-19 shutdowns in China

Apple and other tech companies are facing unprecedented production problems at present, starting with the global chip shortage.
The shortage was created by a mix of factors. These include increased demand for technology during the pandemic, COVID-related production disruption, and a growing demand for chips by car-makers; as cars rely on increasing numbers of microprocessor units.
The biggest issue is not with CPUs and GPUs, but far more mundane chips like display drivers and power management systems. These relatively low-tech chips are used in a huge number of devices, including Apple ones.
This is being greatly worsened by widespread COVID-19 disruption in China, as the country continues to insist on citywide lockdowns in response to mere handfuls of cases, in what most believe to be an impossible attempt to completely eradicate the infection from the country. It was last month reported that half of Apple’s top 200 suppliers were based in lockdown-hit areas.
One recent report said that the worst-case scenario is the loss of 6-10 million iPhone units in the run-up to the launch of the iPhone 14 lineup.
Lockdowns are now easing, but today’s Nikkei Asia report says that Apple and its suppliers are now struggling to make up for lost time.
Development of at least one of Apple’s new flagship iPhones for this year has fallen behind schedule due to disruptions from the monthlong COVID lockdowns in China, Nikkei Asia has learned.
Apple has told suppliers to speed up product development efforts to make up for the lost time, which in the worst-case scenario could impact the manufacturing schedule and initial production volumes of the new phones, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
“It is challenging to make up for the lost time. … Apple and its suppliers are working around the clock to speed up development,” said an executive with an Apple supplier, adding that the pace of reopening in Shanghai is “rather slow.”
Specifically, the delays are said to be to the engineering verification test (EVT). This is when suppliers finalize all the parts and the processes needed to begin production.
The schedule for Apple’s traditional late-September launch calls for all new iPhone models to complete the EVT stage by the end of June, but at least one of the models is said to have fallen three weeks behind. Unless the time can be somehow made up, one of the iPhones may not be available at the official launch.
Analysts cited aren’t optimistic, saying that there are still a lot of restrictions in place, and that it is likely to take one to two months until things return to normal – and that’s assuming no further lockdowns, which is by no means certain.
Any delay in availability is unlikely to change the timing of the traditional late-September keynote timing: Apple would simply advise later availability for any affected model(s). A precedent for this approach was set in 2017, when the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X were all announced – but the latter didn’t go on sale until November.
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Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!
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