By Christian Zibreg on Oct 25, 2012
According to a new supply chain report, LG Display beat its arch-rival Samsung for display panel orders and has now become the primary supplier of screens that Apple uses to build virtually all of its recently refreshed products.
Specifically, LG Display is said to provide panels for the new iPad mini, fourth-generation iPad with Retina display, 13-inch MacBook Pro and both 21.5 and 27-inch revamped iMac models. This is of particular interest to would-be shoppers eyeing the iPad mini because “frustrated suppliers”, per one analyst, previously had issues meeting Apple’s exacting standards… Read More
By Cody Lee on Oct 24, 2012
Folks interested in purchasing Apple’s new iPad mini may want to make sure and order one as soon as possible when pre-orders go live this Friday. Word is, one of Apple’s suppliers for the tablet is having problems meeting its yield rates, and this could lead to a shortage of iPad mini stock… Read More
By Ed Sutherland on Oct 22, 2012
More fallout from Apple’s patent lawsuit win against Samsung: the South Korean company’s LCD arm will stop selling displays to the Cupertino, California iPhone maker. The reason? Samsung Display no longer sees Apple as “a cash-generator due to the iPhone maker’s stiffer supply-chain management structure,” a South Korean newspaper reports.
“We are unable to supply our flat-screens to Apple with huge price discounts,” a senior Samsung source was quoted Monday. To make up for the lost business, both Samsung’s own handset unit and Amazon are upping their orders from Samsung Display, the source said… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 22, 2012
Apple will reportedly pay up to “partially absorb costs” related to stricter quality control in iPhone 5 manufacturing, according to Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu. Faced with numerous complaints from early adopters who noticed their handset is far more prone to scratches and nicks which Apple initially attempted to dismiss as “normal” wear and tear, the company is now ready to take a hit on its near-term gross margins to improve production quality of the iPhone 5. Specifically, the analyst projects the iPhone maker’s gross margins to be between 40.5 percent and 41.5 percent versus Wall Street’s consensus between 42 percent and 43 percent… Read More
By Cody Lee on Oct 20, 2012
If you were to ask someone what they thought of Foxconn today, chances are their response would be negative. And for good reason. Over the past few years, we’ve heard horror stories about the manufacturing giant regarding terrible working conditions and child labor, and we’ve seen the pictures of the windows with prison bars and the suicide nets.
And that’s exactly the kind of scene James Fallows, a journalist for The Atlantic, prepared himself for, as he set out on a tour of Foxconn’s famous Shenzhen campus. He was ready to see the dark, depressing work environment and the somber, joyless employees that he had read so much about in other reports. But it didn’t go at all how he expected… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 17, 2012
Media reports about Scuffgate related to the widely reported quality-control issues with iPhone 5 manufacturing have subdued a bit as we head into the iPad mini press conference next Tuesday. That said, it’s a tad surprising Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer Foxconn would agitate spirits by explaining to The Wall Street Journal why the iPhone 5 is so difficult to manufacture.
Apple’s phone, in Foxconn’s words, is “the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled”. Workers are assembling iPhones in two new plants they are not familiar enough with, using brand new production processes that take time to perfect. Build quality will improve over time as workers advance their skills, but only to the extent of the limitations regarding the handset’s anodized coating… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 16, 2012
Foxconn is the world’s largest contract manufacturer and Apple’s favorite contractor. Its sweatshops in China are under a constant barrage of criticism regarding labor conditions. Apple and Foxconn have been working to cut long hours and increase wages (twice), but when you have to deal with a workforce of approximately one million individuals, it’s virtually impossible to deal with individual abuses that may occur.
Except, of course, that Foxconn has a pattern of underage labor and other serious workplace violations. Also, being the world’s biggest manufacturer doesn’t help because the media tends to zero in on Foxconn and Apple to make an example. The following story underscores how the two parties have not done nearly enough to prevent workplace abuses… Read More
By Cody Lee on Oct 12, 2012
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing about problems within Foxconn’s production lines regarding the iPhone 5. Workers are unhappy with the complicated manufacturing procedures, and higher quality standards, and thousands have even gone on strike.
These problems are said to be one of the main factors in the iPhone 5 supply constraint Apple is seeing worldwide. It’s three weeks after launch, and the handset is still seeing shipping times of 3-4 weeks. But rumor has it that Apple is working on a solution… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 11, 2012
October 10 has come and gone without an Apple invitation (Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt who called for it apologized), prompting watchers to wonder about a smaller and cheaper iPad Apple’s rumored to be close to launching under the iPad mini moniker.
According to a supply chain report today, Apple is facing quality control issues with the device’s display and chassis, suggesting that shipments are not smooth at the moment due to low yield rates. The report notes that the iPad mini will come in native and black-colored aluminum chassis said to be “more vulnerable to scratching”. That doesn’t sound good.
The manufacturing difficulties are being blamed on anodizing, a finish process where aluminum thrown into a pool of chemicals and then running an electrical current through the acid bath, which produces a skin-deep layer that can easily be peeled off. The anodized finish process on the black cases for the iPad mini is reportedly “more critical”, resulting in lower yield rates… Read More
By Cody Lee on Oct 10, 2012
It’s been almost three weeks since the iPhone 5 went on sale here in the US, and it’s practically impossible to find the handset. Apple’s website still shows shipping time estimates of 3-4 weeks, and both Verizon and AT&T show the phone won’t be available until November.
On the surface, it seems that Apple is once again a victim of its own success: it simply can’t make iPhones fast enough to meet demand. But apparently there’s more to it than that. Word is that the phone’s aluminum backing has been a major factor in the supply constraints… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 9, 2012
A report by the Japanese blog Macotakara recently asserted that Apple ordered parts made of carbon fiber, presumably for an entirely new product (no iBike jokes, please), though for all we know the company could be simply looking to replace aluminum in products with lighter and stronger carbon fiber parts.
The report would name neither the supplier nor the product in question and today the same blog ran another story shedding more light on the matter.
Apple apparently has been working with the mysterious supplier for at least three years, suggesting that the shipments of carbon fiber parts (said to be too large to simply be a sample) stem from Apple’s multi-year partnership with the vendor… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 8, 2012
It’s not just Apple. Samsung, too, is taking advantage of cheap child labor who put long hours into someone else’s dream. According to a scathing report titled “Samsung Factory Exploiting Child Labor” and put together by the members of China Labor Watch (CWL), a New York-based non-government organization founded by labor activist Li Qiang, the practice of hiring child labor is “prevalent” at factories run by HEG Electronics, which assembles cell phones, DVDs, stereo equipment and music players for Samsung… Read More
By Cody Lee on Oct 8, 2012
Though Apple has been mum about the iPad mini thus far, reports continue to drop that the smaller tablet is on the way. Last week, it was said that the slate was already in production. And today, more new information has surfaced.
Apparently, Apple’s Asian component suppliers have received orders to build more than 10 million iPad minis for Q4 of this year… Read More
By Cody Lee on Oct 5, 2012
When Apple introduced the iPhone 5, it noted: “We’ve developed manufacturing processes that are our most complex and ambitions. Never before have we built a product with this extraordinary level of fit and finish.”
While the end result of these complex methods — i.e. the iPhone 5 — appears to be making customers happy, the processes themselves seem to be causing problems at the factories. A new report is out this afternoon that thousands of Foxconn workers have gone on strike due to issues with iPhone 5 production… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 3, 2012
The Wall Street Journal lent its aura of credibility to the iPad mini rumor with a report out this morning declaring that Apple’s manufacturing partners in Asia have started mass-producing the device, in time for a rumored October 17 announcement and early-November availability.
According to “people with knowledge of the situation”, the device will indeed have a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display with a lower resolution than the third-generation iPad with a 2,048-by-1,536 pixel Retina display, meaning the iPad mini will quite possibly run a 1024-by-768 display just as the original iPad and iPad 2 do… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 1, 2012
Apple’s favorite manufacturer Foxconn runs plants in Brazil, among them facilities that churn out some iPhones, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that Japanese blog Macotakara is out with a new report claiming that Apple’s rumored mini iPad will be made in Brazil, just as we’d first heard back in January. The story conveniently coincides with another report from this morning calling for a media event for the iPad mini early in the second half of this month…
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 28, 2012
The struggling Japanese electronics giant Sharp confirmed Friday that it is making “adequate volumes” of displays used for Apple’s iPhone 5, Reuters reports. Sharp’s statement arrives just as Apple has rolled out the device to 22 more countries this morning. The ongoing supply constraints continue to affect availability of the iPhone 5, which still shows 2-3 week shipping times on Apple’s international online stores. Furthermore, some international carriers stopped taking iPhone 5 pre-orders due to low supplies… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 26, 2012
Forget about Liquidmetal: Apple is said to be ordering parts made of carbon fiber and these are allegedly for a mysterious new product. A Japanese supplier has apparently been commissioned to deliver carbon fiber items, but quantities are said to far surpass what constitutes a sample.
Coincidentally or not, Apple’s patent filings indicate that the company has been researching carbon-fiber enclosures for quite some time. Now, imagine if you a will a carbon fiber-clad iOS device which doesn’t get easily scratched and is even more lightweight than your Unibody aluminum iPhone 5… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 26, 2012
In addition to Mapgate and Scuffgate, another controversy involving Apple is making rounds on the web. Comedian and television host Conan O’Brien jumped on the opportunity to scold Apple over the rioting which swept the iPhone 5 plant in Asia. Take a look at the iShiv, a new tool designed to “revolutionize factory riots”. Because assembly line workers “just love the thinnest, lightest factory riot weapon yet”. The clip is right after the break… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 20, 2012
More cracks are beginning to show in the Apple-Samsung partnership as the South Korean conglomerate’s component arm lost a significant amount of orders to rival LG Display. Coincidentally or not, the news arrives in the aftermath of the $1 billion ruling in the Apple v. Samsung trial. Samsung used to be the prime supplier of high-resolution Retina panels for Apple’s third-generation iPad, but no longer.
Seeking ways to reduce its dependency on Samsung, Apple reportedly shifted panel orders to LG Display. It’s not just a minor re-shuffling: Samsung last month saw iPad panel orders reduced to just 28 percent of its July output. We’ve seen what order stoppage rumors can do to market cap. I’d watch Samsung’s share price closely these days… Read More