Apple is facing supply chain problems as the Company looks to launch several new products this year in an effort to stay ahead of Samsung who are also a major supplier to the US Company.
According to the UK Daily Telegraph it appears that that the ‘iPad Pro’ – a larger version of the iPad, equipped with a 12.9-inch screen, which was planned for launch later this year – may have been shelved based on market feedback.
The sapphire-screened iPhone 6 also may not make it to market this year, possibly due to a shortfall in production capacity at the company’s new US manufacturing facility.
The Company who only designs new products and relies on partners to supply components and manufacture Apple products has recently moved to take greater control over the supply chain by investing in the manufacture of its own components and placing large advance orders to secure key supplies where needed.
The Company has also moved to hire senior supply chain management who might be able to speed up its product development to compete with the high volume of mobile devices coming out of China and Taiwanese manufacturers who are now eating into Apple market share.
This week HTC will launch their new M8 smartphone while Samsung will launch a new Galaxy S 5, both products are tipped to go on sale on April 11.
The Daily Telegraph said that recent shifts in the mobile device supply chain, which are enabling rival products to come to market more quickly, may now be putting Apple’s supply chain model under increasing pressure.
As a result Apple is now trying to find ways to increase the agility of the supply chain so it can respond more swiftly to market feedback and make it less critical that the business backs the right technologies from the start.
If the rumours are right, it would seem that when it comes to ‘glass’, the company lacks a ‘plan B’ and this is making it seem big and slow by comparison with some other innovators in the marketplace.
As things stand, Apple has invested $578m in the construction of its Arizona sapphire plant and if sapphire-screen technology fails to make it to market this year, there will be a window of opportunity for rival innovators to come up with something that performs better. If this happens, then the company’s substantial up-front investment in sapphire glass could well turn out to be money wasted.