Hits on iPhone production are usually made in the first half
Every year, a new model of iPhone announced in September by Apple. For this to happen, however, the work begins months earlier. But in 2020 it can be different: travel restrictions for China because of the coronavirus they can delay the perfect production cycle of the smartphone from the Tim Cook, reported former employees and supply chain experts to the news agency Reuters.
Manufacturing of the iPhone usually starts only in the middle of the year, but the first months of the season are crucial: when Apple engineers go to the factories in China to work out the details of the production of the device with manufacturers like Foxconn, said two former Apple employees.
The period of the first two months is dedicated to transforming prototypes into something that can be manufactured by the millions. If delays occur, Apple may have trouble ordering chips and other components, which are almost all tailor-made for the iPhone. "As the volumes are very large, they need to order the components in time for the production line not to delay," said Ron Keith, founder of the Supply Chain Resources Group.
Between March and April, Apple engineers work with Foxconn to set up production lines and run tests. The idea is that the real assembly starts in June, to gain traction in the following months.
"They probably have a dedicated assembly line just to try new things," said one of the employees. "If Apple engineers are with Foxconn engineers, they are making progress. But if they are quarantined, that can be very bad."
Apple uses other manufacturers besides Foxconn, but according to experts, tests for a new iPhone always happen with the Taiwanese company because its assembly line is the most advanced today. The world's largest manufacturer of electronics for third-party brands, Foxconn has postponed the reopening of its factories after the Lunar New Year and expects it to be able to resume half of its production in China by the end of February. Both Apple and Foxconn declined to comment.
Last week, Apple warned investors that it was "unlikely" that the company would be able to maintain its revenue targets for the first quarter of 2020. In a statement, the company also said that the global supply of iPhones could be limited due to factories. closed in China. Foxconn also said at the beginning of the month that the virus could reduce its revenue in the period.
While experts say Apple still has time to get iPhone production on schedule, travel restrictions are making the situation increasingly complicated.
Anna-Katrina Shedletstky, a former Apple engineer, said collaboration "on the ground" is critical for new products. "It is possible to circumvent travel restrictions and take engineers anywhere in the world, but you also need to think about the knowledge that is generated about the product when thinking about it in its environment. something that can even be taught, but it is difficult to do."
"There is no face-to-face work being done now," said an executive at a semiconductor company that supplies equipment to smartphone companies and works with teams in China, talking about cellphone production cycles. "And it is said that this will not change in at least a month. It is now two months off, which is a huge time for the world of consumer electronics."