Insider Says iPhone Quality Problems May Delay Launch

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Insiders at the Company manufacturing the Apple iPhone claim that quality problems are causing concen to the extent that the phone may be delayed past June 11th 2007.

Apple is struggling to deliver a quality iPhone according to insiders at a Taiwanese phone manufacturing Company.  Han Hai (aka Foxconn) are concerned that the designs Apple have delivered for manufacturing are not robust enough and that the Apple software functions built into the phone are sucking juice out of the batteries to the extent that talk time is significantly compromised. It is expected that the iPhone will not be launched on June 11th 2007.

Apple, it seems is concerned that they could be hit by a flood of warrantly claims a move which Han Hai is trying to avoid as they could well end up wearing the responsibility for some of the claims. The problem the insiders claim relate to the way the software has been designed. Functions working in the background are sucking power while the phone is not being used to the extent that call times are limited.

 

According to Han Hai staff, several meetings have taken place between Apple and the manufacturer over the quality of the phones and above all the performance of the phones when benchmarked against other smart phones.

The insider said” Apple are concerned over potential warranty claims. Unlike the iPod which also had battery and hard drive problems when it first launched the Apple iPhone is a lot more complicated and more difficult to manufacture. Both organisations have met to discuss this. Apple have assigned more people to resolve several software issues that are impacting the launch.” they said.

“We’re hearing it’s mostly an issue with the complexity of the device,” said iSuppli analyst Jagdish Rebello.

The expert also suggested that the shift of software team members from Mac OS X Leopard to the iPhone was in response to issues discovered late into the testing phase. “Typically the manufacturer and the service provider are making sure the phone meets all its specifications,” he said. “It’s clear they have found some issues that they need to fix.” he said.

The announcement that Apple would delay the release of its newest version of Mac OS X, known as Leopard to concentrate on the iPhone has not surprised people in Taiwan. A senior executive of a major phone manufacturing Company said ” The iPhone is complex. We make a lot of phones but this one is different. they expect the software to do a lot. They want a sleek looking design which is also robust. sometimes the two don’t go together.

 

Scheduled for release on June 11 2007 it is expected that only limited numbers of the phone will be available. It appears that the last thing Apple wants is quality problems with their phone. Apple staff have been told that the launch of the iPhone will be a lot tougher than the launch of the iPod. A memo to Apple staff is reported to have claimed that several manufacturers are in a position to hurt Apple if the iPhone has quality problems.

Apple admits that it has redeployed some of its software engineering and quality assurance personnel away from Leopard to the team working on the June launch of the iPhone due to the  last-minute problems that have cropped up and raises questions about whether Apple will push back the iPhone release till after the US holiday period.


According to BusinessWeek in the USA various iPhone suppliers have been told that the iPhone may not be available until the end of June, according to Jagdish Rebello, an analyst with iSuppli, a market intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. Apple had never specified when in June the device would ship, but its wireless partner, AT&T (T), had been cited in published reports naming a June 11 target date, the same day of an Apple software developers conference. “We’re hearing it’s mostly an issue with the complexity of the device, and that all the component suppliers are making their deliveries on time,” Rebello says.

 

Apple hinted in the statement that making the iPhone is no cakewalk. The cell phone “contains the most sophisticated software ever shipped on a mobile device,” Apple said. It added that the device had passed “several” of its required certification tests and would ship in “late June.”

Usually with two months or less to go before market release, a device like the iPhone would ordinarily be going through a heavy battery of testing in preparation for volume manufacturing. The apparently sudden shift of personnel away from Leopard suggests that a late wrinkle has emerged. “Typically the manufacturer and the service provider are making sure the phone meets all its specifications, and that all the production glitches have been ironed out,” Rebello says. “It’s clear they have found some issues that they need to fix.”

First Time Is Right Time
Richard Doherty, director and co-founder of the Envisioneering Group, says he’s tested the phone and didn’t uncover problems with it. Apple may be beefing up software developer tools and fixing security concerns, he reckons. “Putting a powerful operating system on a phone took extra hands on deck,” he says. “The last thing Apple wants is for the iPhone to be vulnerable to hacker attacks.”

Apple hopes customers will use iPhone for online purchases, so it’s making the operating system more powerful than existing mobile systems, such as Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Mobile or Symbian, developed by a Nokia (NOK)-led consortium. “They don’t want it to be a version 1.0 of the iPhone, but version 4.9,” Doherty says. “Apple wants to get it right the first time.”

Another challenge is giving the iPhone sufficient battery life. The battery will have to be powerful enough to handle a variety of functions, but it must also be compact, analysts explain. “There’s a lot of skepticism about the iPhone’s battery life,” says Paul Sagawa, an analyst with Sanford Bernstein. The iPhone is expected to have two batteries, one for the phone and the other for the music player. The phone battery, which is very small, would have to power a huge screen, Wi-Fi network connections, and many other power-hungry features.

 

Wall Street’s Not Worried
Wall Street analysts generally dismissed the Leopard release delay, saying there are plenty of other reasons to be bullish on Apple stock. Adobe (ADBE) will soon be upgrading its flagship creative software for the Mac, giving computer users another reason to buy new Macs. And barring any major glitches, many analysts are confident the iPhone will be a hit. “Although the push-out of Leopard is not ideal, we view iPhone as the delivery of the next leg to the Apple growth story,” Goldman Sachs (GS) analyst David Bailey wrote in an Apr. 13 research note. Apple stock dipped 2.1% the day after the late afternoon announcement.

The delayed Leopard is the second rollout of a major Apple product this year. Apple also delayed the launch of Apple TV, which hit store shelves at the end of March. But Leopard’s four-month delay is minor compared with the many delays that beset Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows Vista. The system was first due in 2005, but didn’t hit store shelves until early 2007.

And the extra time means added weeks of speculation surrounding the features due to be included in Leopard, now slated for an October launch. “Our analysis indicates that if not for the ‘secret’ features, the core Leopard operating system would likely have shipped on time,” American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu wrote in a recent research note.

However embarrassing the Leopard delay, the release of a bug-riddled iPhone would be disastrous, particularly since expectations have been set so high. “It’s not easy to make a phone,” Sagawa says. “The hype has risen to such a fever pitch that to disappoint people with the product would be quite a black mark.”

 

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