Apple is experimenting with new supplier to build ‘iPhone 5se’

By

Don't call it the '5se'.
The iPhone may be shrinking, but Apple's supplier base sure isn't.
Photo: Martin Hajek

Apple is reportedly adding a new supplier to help build its eagerly-anticipated 4-inch “iPhone 5se” — giving up-and-coming supplier Wistron a piece of the iPhone-producing pie in an an attempt to “nurture” it as a non-Foxconn Apple manufacturer.

This is reportedly part of a strategy Apple has been pursuing recently, in which it uses several different companies to manufacture each of its products as a way of lowering the risk of relying on one single supplier — while maximizing profits in the process.

The Digitimes report notes that:

“Apple has been trying to separate its orders to different ODMs to avoid risks. In February 2015, the vendor added Compal Electronics as an iPad mini manufacturer, and Wistron to conduct iPhone touch panel lamination, and has recently outsourced a small portion of its new 4-inch iPhone orders to Wistron, looking to nurture Wistron to become an iPhone assembly house, according to some market watchers.”

By broadening its number of suppliers Apple gets more of a bargaining chip for keeping supplier prices competitive, while also helping to cut down on supply-and-demand issues which have sometimes cost it sales in the early days of new devices. The strategy coincided with 2014’s GT Advanced Technologies debacle, in which Apple’s reliance on one manufacturer stopped the iPhone 6 having sapphire displays as the company had hoped for.

Apple’s own manufacturers have also spoken out about how dangerous it is to become too reliant on Cupertino without diversifying.

Wistron was invited to join Apple’s supply chain last year, alongside Compal Electronics. Although the iPhone 4-inch 5se (please let that not be its final name!) is unlikely to be Apple’s biggest seller, giving the company iPhone orders alongside Foxconn is a good way of testing the waters to see how it copes with Apple’s biggest product line.

The 4-inch iPhone and iPad Air 3 are likely to go on sale around March 18.