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It appears the rumors of the iPhone SE’s demise may have been somewhat exaggerated. Last week, two generally reliable supply chain sources revealed that Apple was slashing production of the new low-cost iPhone model only days after it went on sale. However, another supply chain source is disputing this report, noting that Apple’s suppliers have yet to hear about these rumored cutbacks.
The original reports came from both Nikkei Asia and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who claimed that demand for the new affordable iPhone SE has been “lower than expected.”
Nikkei claimed that Apple was planning to produce 20 percent fewer iPhone SE models in the April–to-June quarter, while Kuo revised his estimate of overall iPhone SE shipments for 2022 downward, predicting that Apple will sell only 15–20 million units rather than the 25–30 million units he originally forecasted.
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Both reports seem pretty reasonable, especially with the economic uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine curbing a lot of consumer spending. Nikkei pointed to this as the main reason for the weakened demand, which isn’t something Apple could have predicted when it released the iPhone SE last month.
However, it turns out there’s one small problem with these rumors of production cutbacks: nobody seems to have told the companies that are actually making the iPhone SE.
According to a new report from DigiTimes, suppliers in Taiwan haven’t heard a peep about revising orders — and if the rumors are true, they should have by now.
Apple has been said to be cutting orders of its 5G iPhone SE and AirPods in the second quarter, but Taiwan-based Apple supply chain companies have pointed out that they have yet to receive instructions from customers about revising orders.DigiTimes
Nikkei reported last month that Apple was planning to reduce the production of the iPhone SE by 20 percent “next quarter” — the quarter that began on April 1. The same report also said that Apple had “reduced orders” (past tense) for its AirPods earphones by more than 10 million units.
While the iPhone SE cutbacks are said to be a result of weak demand — Kuo cites the “in stock” delivery status as “one of the proofs” — the situation with AirPods is a bit more complicated. Apple reportedly has plenty of AirPods sitting in warehouses, and with demand for those being “lukewarm,” Apple is simply trying to even out its inventory levels.
Both Nikkei and Kuo may have received information from sources higher up in the supply chain, and those instructions may have yet to trickle down to the actual factories.
Further, since DigiTimes’ report refers specifically to “Taiwan-based” suppliers, it’s also conceivable that Apple is only cutting production in other countries. There’s no reason to believe that suppliers who aren’t being asked to cut back would be privy to the details of Apple’s overall production plans.
Industry publications and analysts like these rely almost exclusively on supply chain sources for their reports. However, Apple’s supply chain involves numerous partners in multiple countries, from China to India, making it nearly impossible for any single supply chain analyst to get a complete picture of what’s going on — and we suspect Apple likes it that way.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]