The secret has been out for some time: the iPhone 6 will be announced on 9 September. But what isn’t clear is how soon afterwards you will be able to buy Apple’s new phone (or phones) and what stock will initially be available. According to Reuters we may be in for bad news on both accounts.
In an exclusive report the news agency claims “Suppliers to Apple Inc are scrambling to get enough screens ready for the new iPhone 6 smartphone as the need to redesign a key component disrupted panel production ahead of next month’s expected launch”.
Reuters quotes supply chain sources as saying the backlight (which illuminates the screen) had to be revised at the last minute putting assembly on hold for parts of both June and July. It says Apple was determined to use a single layer of backlight film instead of two, as used by most phones, in a bid to make the new iPhone the thinnest ever.
Unfortunately “the new configuration was not bright enough and the backlight was sent back to the drawing board to fit in the extra layer, costing precious time and temporarily idling some screen assembly operations” according to the source.
Reuters states that output has now resumed at full speed with suppliers working flat out to make up for the time lost, but it remains unclear “whether the hiccup could delay the launch or limit the number of phones initially available to consumers”.
Interestingly the Reuter’s report ties in with a discovery from 9to5Mac that James J. Patton, Apple’s Director of Global Trade Compliance, filed a letter on 2 July to the U.S Department of Commerce (so in the middle of the alleged iPhone production disruption) to start producing sapphire displays to what supporting documents reference as “Jewelry”.
The papers ask for the request to be expedited “so that we can meet an aggressive go-live timeline of August 2014”.
The report also ties them to a new Apple sapphire component: “Sapphire HTSUS No. 7116.20 represents Articles Of Jewelry Of Precious Or Semiprecious Stones, Valued Not Over $40 Per Piece, Not Containing Jadeite Or Rubies.”
Given premium watches have long used sapphire in their watch faces the evidence mounts that this is a reference to the fabled ‘iWatch’. Furthermore rivals Google and Samsung having already made their first moves into the smartwatch sector so it seems the time is right for Apple to finally break cover.
As such it appears the tech sector is shaping up for the biggest September in recent memory.
Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 and potentially the iWatch, Google will launch Android L and the Nexus 6, Motorola has scheduled a 4 September event where the Moto 360 and Moto X+1 as expected to appear and Microsoft is tipped to unveil Windows 9.
Be gone August, we’re done with you!