Considering Apple has a top-notch track record in executing on its product delivery strategies, you should take this one with a pinch of salt. Apparently, Apple is facing manufacturing hiccups that could see them delay both iPhone 5 and iPad 2 until September and June, respectively. At least that’s what we’ve been hearing from a FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger who wrote to clients:
For the iPhone 5, we continue to hear that a July launch is unlikely, with various casing suppliers and touch suppliers still ramping up, with some chip vendors not having yet received firm iPhone 5 orders, and with other sockets like the image sensor (most likely going to Omnivision exclusively, but with some potential for Sony to split that socket) still in flux.
Given these factors, we think a September launch is more likely, off from Apple?s traditional iPhone launch schedule, but giving the firm more time to enhance its next-generation instant communications on the phone.
Likewise, the onslaught of dozens of Honeycomb tablets announced at CES and Mobile World Congress apparently has spoiled Apple’s plans to bring the iPad 2 to market in late March or early April. Asian component suppliers and contract manufacturers are said to be too busy building Android tablets. Bloomberg Businessweek writes about "production bottlenecks" and last-minute design changes on Apple’s part forcing their long-time manufacturing partner Foxconn to delay iPad 2 manufacturing. The report quotes Yuanta analysts Vincent and Alison Chen:
Our checks suggest new issues are being encountered with the new production and it is taking time to resolve them. As a number of Android 3.0 tablets are being launched in April and May, the delay in iPad 2 shipments may give the Android camp a brief window of opportunity.
If true, the news puts iPad 2 on a collision course with the next iPhone that usually launches in June or July. As a result, would-be iPad buyers could be choose between a variety of powerful tablets driven by Google’s Honeycomb software.
On the other hand, the supposed iPad 2 delay contradicts a Wall Street Journal claim that it has gone into production and an earlier report warning of low stock levels of the current-generation model at the UK’s Carphone Warehouse, Europe?s Ingram Micro, and Canada?s Future Shop, without any signs of replenishing supplies. Additionally, Tech Radar reported that iPad has been discounted at T-Mobile and Orange in Europe. Such sell outs are usually a tell-tale sign that a refreshed model is heading for the supply chain.
It’s very unlikely that Apple would drop the ball by delaying both iPad 2 and iPhone 5. It would be a huge blow for their fortunes considering the tablet accounted for 17 percent of Apple’s sales last quarter, while the phone contributed to a whooping 39 percent of the company’s revenue last fiscal year. Such a misstep certainly wouldn’t bode well for Timothy Cook, Apple’s chief of operations who is currently covering for Jobs during his medical leave. Cook, 49, also served as Apple CEO for two months in 2004, when Steve was recovering from pancreatic cancer surgery, and for six months in 2009 when he took another medical leave to undergo a liver transplant. It’s during that second medical leave that Cook really rose to the occasion, having executed several product launches flawlessly, among them the high-profile iPhone 3GS launch.