MacBook and iPad production has slowed due to a shortage of supply from Apple

TAIPEI – Production of some MacBooks and iPads has been delayed due to global component shortages, Nikkei Asia has learned, as a sign that even Apple, with its massive purchasing power, is not immune to the unprecedented supply shortage.

Chip deficiency has caused delays in an important step in MacBook production – mounting components on printed circuit boards for final assembly – sources briefed on the matter told Nikkei Asia. Some iPad assembly, meanwhile, has been delayed due to a shortage of displays and display components, sources said.

As a result of the delay, Apple has pushed back some of the parts orders for the two devices from the first half of this year to the second half, people said. Industry sources and experts say the delays are a sign that the chip shortage is getting worse and could hit smaller tech players even harder.

Apple is known for its expertise in managing one of the world’s most complex supply chains and for the speed with which it can mobilize suppliers. This has helped the company to cope with a global component shortage that is already putting pressure on both car and electronics manufacturers.

Production plans for Apple’s iconic iPhones have so far not been affected by the supply shortage, although the supply of some components for the devices is “quite tight,” two sources said. Overall, the shortage of components remains a supply chain problem for Apple and has not yet impacted the availability of products to consumers, Nikkei has learned.

Apple declined to comment on this story.

Apple rival Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, recently confirmed that the chip shortage could be problematic for the company from April to June, adding that there are teams of employees working day and night. are the work to solve the problem.

Major players such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and HP are heavily influencing suppliers to require their orders to be prioritized when capacity is limited, said Peter Hanbury, a partner of consulting firm Bain & Co. “They have also developed advanced procurement and supply chain capabilities, including joint planning with semiconductor manufacturing partners and a clear view of where their products are manufactured, so they can anticipate such shortages,” he said.

Now, however, “the demand for some of these large product categories is greater than the total available capacity,” added Hanbury. “They now face the same long-term challenges [as their chip suppliers and production partners] of adding production capacity, costing years and billions of dollars. “

Apple sells approximately 200 million iPhones, more than 20 million MacBooks, 19 million iPads and more than 70 million pairs of AirPods each year – all of them in the top five globally in their respective consumer electronics segments – making the company one of the world’s most powerful purchasing forces.

Apple is the world’s fourth largest laptop manufacturer with a market share of 7.6%, behind Lenovo Group Holding, HP and Dell in 2020. Apple’s iPads are now the clear leader in the tablet market, with a share of 32.5% last year. followed by Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo and Amazon, IDC data showed.

The fact that the supply crisis has spread to MacBooks and iPads – two major Apple items – shows that component shortages remain a serious problem and can deal a more serious blow to tech players with less bargaining power and supply chain expertise. management than the US company, industry executives told Nikkei Asia.

“We really don’t see an end to this deficit, and it could be worse looking ahead to the end of the June quarter, as some smaller tech players may run out of critical inventories to build their products and they need to scale up. production back, ”said Wallace Gou, president and CEO of Silicon Motion, a developer of NAND flash memory controller chips supplying Samsung, Western Digital, Micron, Kingston, and many others.

Demand for PCs remains strong this year as the stay-at-home economy continues to thrive as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. According to research firm IDC, the global PC market is expected to grow by more than 18% this year, after a rapid growth of nearly 13% last year.

However, the US, Japan and Germany have asked Taiwan and South Korea, the chip maker’s two main economies, to prioritize chips for the automotive industry, which is critical to the global economy. This has put further pressure on the production of semiconductors for consumer electronics and computer products.