Thursday, April 11, 2013

Apple production issues to delay iPhone 5S, lower-cost iPhone, iPad mini 2: Analyst

Apple's decision to include a fingerprint scanner in the next iPhone as well as other issues with its upcoming lower-cost iPhone and the next-generation iPad mini are pushing out the launch dates of those devices. The news came on Thursday from KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo, who has a history of accurate predictions on Apple releases.

In terms of Apple's flagship device, the iPhone, Kuo was targeting a June / July launch for the new iPhone 5S models as recently as last month. Now, though, his estimates have changed.

Kuo said:
Earlier we estimated that shipments of the new iPhone would begin in July (FDD version) and September (TDD version), while iPad mini 2 would hit the market in August. Currently, market consensus for shipments of iPhone 5S, low-cost iPhone and iPad mini 2 is July, July, and August, respectively. But in light of publicly available information and our knowledge of technological trends, we now think all three products will begin shipments later than our previous expectation and market consensus.
Kuo didn't detail new launch dates. He did, however, in a Thursday research note, indicate scenarios for how Apple's device shipments could be affected based on August / September, September / October, and October / November timeframes.

The analysis shows a percentage decrease in iPhone shipments as great as 63 percent, if iPhone 5S shipments were delayed until November, and as great as 32.5 percent for iPads if iPad mini 2 shipments were delayed until November, or even October.

Kuo also detailed the reasons for the various delays:
  • Fingerprint sensor for the iPhone 5S. Apple has discovering that finding the right color coatings in order to prevent interference with the sensor is a technical challenge. Software integration of the sensor into iOS 7 also requires additional work.
  • In a semi-reprise of the issues it faced with the white iPhone 4, Apple is having color difficulties. Apple's lower-cost iPhone has been rumored to be shipping with a plastic shell in a number of different colors. However, Apple's attempts to keep the shell as thin as possible is expected, Kuo said, to lead to production ramping issues for coatings and surface treatments.
  • iPad mini Retina display. The big design change for the second-generation iPad mini is expected to be a Retina display, Kuo said (although not all believe so). He expects technical challenges related to the display's design and manufacture to slow Apple's release timetable.
Kuo's report followed closely one by Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty. Earlier, she released her own report projecting new iPhone launches for September following an iOS 7 preview at Apple's WWDC in June.

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