Report: Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro launch affected by power management chip shortage

Apple's latest iPhone finally supports 5G.
Image: Apple

Apple’s rollout of the iPhone 12 Pro has been negatively affected by a power management chip shortage, reported ZDNet. The corporation’s website currently informs consumers the device cannot be shipped to them for several weeks. Issues such as the coronavirus pandemic, robust competition, and stronger-than-expected demand contributed to the handset’s limited availability.

The Silicon Valley giant is reportedly compensating for the problem by shifting its production priorities.

Multiple Causes

Because its mobile devices have topped the annual global sales charts for several years, Apple knew it needed a lot of iPhones ready for the holiday season. Unfortunately, the corporation’s plans for a massive flagship handset rollout were complicated by multiple factors.

To start, the iPhone 12 series is Apple’s first handset to feature 5G compatibility. To accommodate fifth-generation mobile data connectivity, the Pro model needs a Qualcomm-made modem power management chip. In addition, that version of the device houses power management integrated circuits (ICs) made by Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics. Its latest handsets also include a self-designed power management chip.

The iPhone 12 Pro’s extensive part requirements made it particularly vulnerable to production and logistics problems.

This year, COVID-19 significantly disrupted the global supply chain by prompting temporary manufacturing shutdowns and travel restrictions. The situation prompted Apple to delay its annual smartphone launch by several weeks. It also resulted in a small amount of mobile power management chips being available in the marketplace.

Huawei, one of the Cupertino, California-based company’s biggest rivals in the smartphone space, exacerbated the problem. Facing a loss of access to its component suppliers, the conglomerate stockpiled key handset parts. That spike in procurement competition further affected Apple’s iPhone chip souring efforts.

Lastly, the electronics giant seemingly underestimated the demand for its most popular product. Consumer interest in the 5G mobile device reportedly surpassed the firm’s estimates of 75 million to 80 million units shipped in 2020. It has ordered more iPhone 12s from its suppliers and assemblers, but that pivot is further constraining component availability.

That constellation of challenges will likely keep the iPhone 12 Pro in short supply until next year.

Apple’s Response to Its Component Shortages

Like many electronics manufacturers, Apple generates significant revenue in the fourth quarter from holiday season-related purchases. But with its product availability issues, the firm could experience an atypical sales dip in the current period. To prevent that development, the corporation has reportedly enacted a two-pronged strategy.

Nikkei Asian stated the corporation had allocated components intended for its iPads to its iPhone manufacturing lines. The corporation’s change could affect the manufacture of about 2 million Apple tablet computers.

The other leg of the firm’s strategy involves ramping up production of its older model handsets. The company has reportedly directed its partners to fabricate 20 million iPhone SEs, iPhone 11s, and iPhone XRs. Since the corporation’s older flagships have reportedly received orders of 10 million units each, its plans make sense.

With a market cap exceeding $2 trillion, Apple has considerable influence over the consumer electronics sector. But it is not immune to the impact of an event as large as the coronavirus pandemic. For the company, the iPhone 12 Pro output bottleneck may result in lower than forecast quarterly revenue. And for consumers, it might mean replacing traditional holiday soundtracks with Death Cab for Cutie’s most salient track on endless repeat.


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