Does iPhone X show that Apple’s ‘lost its supply chain mojo’?

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iphone X3
Apple's supply chain may no longer be quite so brilliant.
Photo: Apple

Apple has “lost its supply chain mojo,” claims a new report, suggesting that this year’s iPhone refresh has highlighted that Apple’s once-enviable supply chain brilliance is no longer quite so, well, brilliant.

While there have been component issues Apple has dealt with in the past, this year’s iPhone X manufacturing process has been particularly prone to problems, with the upshot being that supply of the in-demand device is unlikely to match with demand until well into 2018.

A bigger problem than it seems

“I am concerned that it’s not a momentary lapse,” Bloomberg columnist Tim Culpan writes. “The multiple failures in this year’s output make me wonder whether Apple has decision-making problems at its most senior levels.”

Culpan writes that the iPhone X’s decision to adopt OLED displays was based on the mistaken belief that Samsung would be able to ramp up manufacturing to meet Apple’s large quantities. “Clearly they were wrong,” he writes. “Apple does mess up from time to time … but this mistake was huge.”

Culpan then suggests that, when Apple failed to get under-the-display Touch ID working as planned, it had to go with Face ID instead, in what contributed to another chapter in Apple’s “manufacturing annus horribilis” because of the two-part “Romeo and Juliet” sensor required to make it work.

Too early to be worried?

While he hedges his bets somewhat in the conclusion (which doom-predicting analysts are wise to do), Culpan suggests this could be indicative of hubris on Apple’s part.

With rival brands like Samsung and Huawei now getting better at following the Apple model of working closely with manufacturers to create custom components, “Apple risks losing its hardware edge at a time when its iOS platform is also under fire.”

You can check out the entire piece here. Given the massive demand Apple is likely to see with the iPhone X, and the fact that Apple is within reach of becoming the first company in history to hit a valuation of $1 trillion, predicting doom for Apple is more than a little hasty.

Still, with Tim Cook having risen to his position in a large part due to his supply chain mastery, it’s interesting to note that — from AirPod delays to sapphire displays to the iPhone X’s numerous challenges — there have been a few high profile misfires in the last several years.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

  • Michael Pollock

    Jeez, Between pushing the limits of new technologies (new often in that they “just work”), and with the quantities they need to produce, its a wonder it’s not worse.