When Apple began selling the iPhone 5 on September 21, it quickly became the fastest-selling iPhone to date, with five million units sold in the first three days. However, sales have started to slow down since then, and they’ve begun falling short of analyst expectations.
It’s not that customers aren’t buying it, or that the iPhone 5 isn’t successful. The reason it’s not meeting expectations is because Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, simply can’t make it fast enough. Its design is so complicated that it’s the most difficult device Foxconn has ever built.
“The iPhone 5 is the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled,” a company official told The Wall Street Journal. “To make it light and thin, the design is very complicated. It takes time to learn how to make this new device. Practice makes perfect. Our productivity has been improving day by day.”
The executive also confirmed reports that Foxconn has taken steps to improve its manufacturing process in an effort to prevent chips and scratches on the iPhone 5’s aluminum casing. The company recently rolled out a new quality control procedure that should prevent damaged devices from leaving the factory.
However, he also noted that the iPhone 5’s new coating does make it more susceptible to scratching. “It’s always hard to satisfy both aesthetic needs and practical needs,” he said.
Recent disputes at the Foxconn factory, which led to a riot involving more than 2,000 employees back in September, has also led to questions over whether Apple will be able to meet the strong demand of its latest smartphone. However, Foxconn has insisted that the incident did not lead to work stoppages.