Following Apple announcing record sales of 5 million units for the iPhone 5 launch weekend, analysts were quick to point out original estimates of up to 8 million units could have been achieved if it wasn’t for supply shortages—especially at the retail inventory level. A report from Bloomberg today suggested the reasoning behind the shortage was the device’s new in-cell screen technology, which allows for a thinner design due to the combining of the touch sensor and display. Citing analysts from Barclays, Bloomberg noted Sharp was unable to start shipments of displays before the iPhone launch and main suppliers LG and Japan Display were having trouble keeping up too. So, it appears Apple’s inability to hit sales estimates might have been simply a supply chain issue. Even before the device’s launch, delays from Sharp lead to concerns about the iPhone 5 possibly experiencing initial shortages, and that appears to be exactly what is happening:
Apple used the technology in the first major iPhone overhaul since 2010 to make the device more svelte, an attribute that helped lure a record 5 million buyers in three days. Yet producing in-cell screens is also more painstaking than earlier screen types, contributing to bottlenecks… Manufacturing enough of those parts for Apple has been challenging for LG and Japan Display, analysts at the London- based financial-services provider said… As manufacturing of in-cell screens improves, Apple may sell 45.2 million iPhones in the December quarter and 170.7 million through next September, Barclays said.
The report also mentioned delays from Qualcomm, which supplies the iPhone 5’s LTE chip, could also potentially contribute to supply shortages.