Analyst: iPhone 5 availability improving, 46.5M iPhones sales in December

The future is looking up for consumers hoping to lay their hands on an iPhone 5. After doubts arose over whether suppliers could meet high demand for Apple’s new handset, a Wall Street observer told investors Thursday the situation has “much improved” since September. Stern Agee analyst Shaw Wu believes the Cupertino, California company will sell 46.5 million smartphones in the December quarter, a huge increase from September’s 26.9 million iPhones shipped…

The concern over delivering enough iPhone 5 units for the all-important holiday period is no longer of a shortage of components, but a slowdown in assembling the device (via AppleInsider).

According to Wu, the supply chain bottleneck for the iPhone 5 has moved from components to assembly of the device itself.

Sharp, one of the suppliers of in-cell display panels for the device, said in September it removed bottleneck in supplies of iPhone 5 displays. Earlier this week, a comment by Apple’s largest supplier, Foxconn, prompted concern that Apple sales of its latest iPhone would fall short due to ongoing assembly problems.

The company was “falling short of meeting the huge demand”, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou admitted. Along with Gou’s public comment, sources within the manufacturer in October described the iPhone 5 as “the most difficult device” to assemble.

Until now, many observers believed sales of the iPhone 5 would be constrained by suppliers having difficulty with Apple’s new design, which included in-cell displays that eliminated a separate touchscreen panel, but added headaches for companies manufacturing the components.

Has Apple’s design reached a tipping-point of being so cutting-edge that they are beyond current manufacturing capability?

Or have Apple’s demands become unwieldy, requiring parts makers and device assemblers to produce too much too quickly for too little?

Until we know more, the answer is unclear.

What do you think?

Where is the real holdup between design and a store shelf?