The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Apple has cut its orders for iPhone 5 components ‘due to weaker-than-expected demand.’
In itself, that’s no big surprise. Worries about the economy, in the US in particular, may well have put potential buyers’ off. And the Journal itself says ‘the move indicates that sales of the new iPhone haven’t been as strong as previously anticipated and demand may be waning. It comes as the company has been facing greater challenges from Samsung and other makers of smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system.’
Again, that seems a logical explanation. Until you look at the numbers. As the Journal report said, ‘Apple’s orders for iPhone 5 screens for the January-March quarter, for example, have dropped to roughly half of what the company had previously planned to order.’
Half. 50%. That’s some drop in demand. Could it really be the case that Apple’s projected demand for the iPhone 5 for the January-March quarter has fallen by half? It could; but it would be one heck of a failure of its forecasting if that drop was due to tougher than expected competition, or a weaker than expected economy. It’s not as if either of those would have come as a major shock.
Additionally, demand for the iPhone 5 was so strong for the first eight weeks following its launch that Apple was quoting delays of up to four weeks in shipping. To go from a position of not being able to keep up with demand to cutting component orders by 50% would suggest an operations department in meltdown. Or, perhaps there’s a different explanation.
Perhaps Tim Cook’s recent visit to China had been intended to rubber-stamp a deal with China Mobile, something which would have seen demand for the iPhone rise significantly. And perhaps it didn’t quite go as planned, resulting in iPhone sales which had been expected this quarter not materialising. That would mean a significant reduction in the demand for components, would it not?