“As of early fall, it was clearer than ever that production problems meant Apple Inc. wouldn’t have enough iPhone Xs in time for the holidays,” Alex Webb and Sam Kim report for Bloomberg. “The challenge was how to make the sophisticated phone—with advanced features such as facial recognition—in large enough numbers. As Wall Street analysts and fan blogs watched for signs that the company would stumble, Apple came up with a solution: It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation.”
“With the iPhone X set to debut on Nov. 3, we’re about to find out whether the move has paid off,” Webb and Kim report. “Some analysts say there may still be too few iPhone Xs to meet initial demand. Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities predicts Apple will have two to three million handsets available on launch day and 25 million to 30 million units for the holiday quarter, down from his previous forecast of 40 million.”
“Apple is famously demanding, leaning on suppliers and contract manufacturers to help it make technological leaps and retain a competitive edge. While a less accurate Face ID will still be far better than the existing Touch ID, the company’s decision to downgrade the technology for this model shows how hard it’s becoming to create cutting-edge features that consumers are hungry to try,” Webb and Kim report. “Despite demanding the near impossible, Apple didn’t add extra time to get it right — giving suppliers the typical two-year lead time. The tight schedule underestimated the complexity of making and assembling exceedingly fragile components, said one of the people familiar with the production process. That left suppliers short on time to prepare their factories and explains why the iPhone X is being released a full six weeks later than the iPhone 8, said this person, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss an internal matter. ‘It’s an aggressive design,’ the person said, ‘and it’s a very aggressive schedule.'”
Much more in the full article – recommended – here.
MacDailyNews Take: Four points:
1. Face ID is still far more accurate than Touch ID.
2. Face ID’s accuracy obviously has headroom to improve in future generations.
3. The delays and production difficulties are because Apple pushes the envelope. 3D facial recognition is difficult and the components Apple requires are new. The iMacs in 2012 missed Christmas that year because friction stir welding was new to the fabricators. AirPods, Apple Pencils, etc. – all new products. So, Cook & Co. cannot be blamed for wanting to push technology forward. It’s very difficult (read: pretty much impossible) to get cutting-edge technology in established technology volume. This is the reason for Apple’s horrible supple-demand imbalances at new product launches. If we want Apple to push the envelope, we have to bear waiting, sometimes for protracted periods of time, for new products to ship in quantities that begin to satisfy demand.
4. The Mother of All iPhone Preorders looms forebodingly.
Apple CEO Tim Cook: The ‘operations genius’ who never has enough products to sell at launch – October 23, 2017