iPhone Shortage Fuels Speculation Over New Model
April 4, 2008 10:31 AM
Is a new and improved iPhone in the works, or is Apple struggling to keep up with component inventories?
As one of the most trend-setting tech companies, love it or hate it, Apple is constantly making news with its new products. A constant media circus follows Apple, and often the rumors hold true-- as was the case when Apple
revamped its entire iPod line
Now the rumors have started to circulate again, this time about Apple's smart phone, the iPhone. Analysts now claim
iPhone supplies are mysteriously shrinking
, leading to speculation that either Apple is preparing to launch a new model, or is in the middle of a component crisis. Market research firm
Bernstein Research, which runs regular supply checks, revealed that
Apple's U.S. stores and its online store were out of stock of the device.
Bernstein Research points out that such a situation is not beneficial to Apple and is either a purposeful move on Apple's part due to a planned roll out or a sign that Apple is in a supply crisis. The analysts estimate that Apple could lose
40,000 units a week in sales if the shortage continues.
Analyst Toni Sacconaghi said that so far Apple has been largely unaffected. He states that Apple stores were only out of stock for a few days in March and that stocks at
wireless carrier partner
Inc. remained sufficient throughout the month. Sacconaghi doesn't buy into the rumors that a new iPhone model may be in the works. He states conservatively, "
In our view, the most likely explanation for this unusual situation is a production shortfall, possibly due to a component shortage."
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling refused to confirm that Apple had shortages and would only state, "
We are working to replenish iPhone supplies as quickly as we can and our stores continue to receive shipments almost every day."
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu however believes that Apple is preparing to
roll out its new 3G iPhones
, citing unnamed supply chain sources. Wu believes the 3G iPhone may be released in June or July, well ahead of the previous schedule, which put its promised release closer to the end of 2008.
Wu writes in a separate note, "
What gives us higher conviction in the accelerated timetable is that iPhone inventory levels appear fairly lean, which is consistent with Apple's tendency to wind down inventory ahead of an update."
The note by Wu was optimistic on iPhone sales. It speculated that 11 million iPhones might be sold in 2008, 10 percent more than the company's stated goal. While many analysts are predicting
slumping sales for Apple due to poor consumer confidence
, Wu believes that new iPhone models, wider business adoption, and
by Apple may drive strong sales.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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