There’s a troubling new report that Apple is reducing component orders from Asia suppliers because of sales and production problems with the iPhone 4S.The report comes from Taiwan-based DigiTimes, and it runs counter to the many anecdotal reports of a spectacular launch for the 4S.
Importantly, the reports cites component shortages as a cause, which is more plausible than a lack of demand for the phone.
Here’s the key part of the report, from Cage Chao and Steve Shen:
Apple has informed upstream suppliers of parts and components for iPhone 4S to delay part of their shipments for the fourth quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012 as sales of the iPhone 4S have not been as strong as those concluded in the pre-sales period and also due to shortages in the supply of some key components, according to sources at the iPhone 4 supply chain.
According to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report, Apple is likely to adjust downward its shipments of iPhones and iPads from related suppliers by 10-15% in the fourth quarter.
The report adds that makers of cases, cameras, and integrated circuit boards have also been affected.
Note that there are two causes of weakness cited here:
- Slower-than-expected sales
- Component shortages
The first seems implausible because, anecdotally, iPhone 4S sales seem to be off to a great start, and Apple appears to be selling as many of them as it can make. But the report also references “shortages,” so perhaps Apple is simply not able to make as many phones as it planned to.
(At least based on anecdotal demand in the US, the “component shortages” report makes sense. The wait times to get a 4S are still long here, and the pre-orders sold out instantly in Hong Kong.)
Last quarter, there were a couple of vague reports like this, followed by a surprising shortfall in iPhone sales in Apple September-quarter results.
UPDATE: Piper’s Gene Munster is out with a note defending Apple and saying iPhone 4S sales are fine. His projection is 26 million for the quarter.