Sunday, March 18, 2012

Apple eating 9 percent more cost for each 'new iPad': iSuppli teardown

Market research firm iSuppli has followed up the teardown that iFixit did, with one of its own, concluding with the Bill of Materials cost for a "new iPad," or more accurately a third-generation iPad. The BOM costs show that new features are taking a decent-sized bite out of Apple's profits.

Apple kept the "new iPad's" pricing the same across the board. Despite that, Apple's costs have gone up, with all the changes Apple has made to the product. For example, the low-end version of the new iPad, with 16GB memory and wi-fi only, has a total combined BOM and manufacturing cost (iSuppli pegs Apple's manufacturing costs at $10.75) of $316 and sells for $499, the 32GB model costs Apple $333 to build ($599), and the 64GB version runs $366 ($699).

Now, iSuppli didn't compare those against its iPad 2 teardown of a wi-fi only model, as its iPad 2 teardown was more focused on the 32GB wi-fi + 3G model, but it did detail the differences between that model and the similar configuration of the new iPad.

The new iPad with 32GB of storage and 4G LTE capability has a BOM cost of $375.10 including manufacturing and is sold for $729. The BOM of the 16GB 4G LTE version is $358.30 (sold for $629), and the 64GB version is $408.70 (sold for $829). The 32GB LTE model's BOM is close to 9 percent more than the iPad 2 equipped with 32GB and 3G support, which carried a BOM cost of approximately $335 at the time of product launch.

The major factors involved in the BOM increase are quite obvious: the LTE support, retina display, and larger capacity battery more than make up for the decrease in some components that are unchanged between the models.

In terms of component costs, iSuppli broke down some of the individual pieces of the new iPad. Flash memory runs $16.80 (16GB0, $33.60 (32GB), or $67.20 (64GB). The display ($87) and touch screen ($40) remain the biggest contributors to the overall component cost of the new iPad.

IHS analyst Andrew Rassweiler made the rather obvious statement in iSuppli's press release:

"The Retina display represents the centerpiece of the new iPad and is the most obvious enhancement in features compared to previous-generation models. The first two generations of the iPad employed the same type of display—a screen with resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels. For the third-generation new iPad, Apple has taken a significant step up in display capabilities and expense, at four times the resolution and 53 percent more cost."

Additional components: the new A5X processor is $23; the improved camera costs $12.35; the WLAN/BT/FM module runs $15; the new iPad's power management hardware are is $10; the battery costs $32; mechanical, electro-mechanical, and other parts run Apple $50.50; the box contents are $5.50, and in the LTE models, the BB/RF/PA module adds $ 41.50.

Despite the fact that Samsung seems to be losing when it comes to patent fights with Apple, as far as supplying components for the new iPad, Samsung is indeed "winning." As noted above, the retina displays cost $87, and Samsung also builds the A5X processor. If it also produces the battery cells (iSuppli could not confirm this), it would mean that more than 45 percent of a wi-fi iPad's BOM (not including manufacturing) goes back to Samsung.

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