The decision to go with aluminum in the latest iPhone 5 is now being blamed for the poor availability and shipping times. The iPhone 5 has been on sale for just over two weeks now and Apple is still quoting availability for new devices at the time of writing of 3-4 weeks. According to a report by Bloomberg, the reason for the slow availability is all down to quality control problems with the aluminum used in the banding around the iPhone 5 and the back cover.
Stricter benchmarks have hampered production of the iPhone 5’s anodized aluminum housings, forcing Foxconn’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2317) to idle factories, the person said. The slowdown is heightening supply concerns that have cost Apple about $60 billion in market value since the iPhone debut -- a shortcoming of the drive to imbue products with qualities that make them alluring yet more difficult to manufacture.
The scrapes, which sparked complaints with the iPhone’s debut last month, are due to Apple’s decision to use a type of aluminum that helps make the smartphone thinner and lighter. Senior Apple managers told executives at Foxconn near the end of September to tighten production standards, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter was private.
For those working on assembly lines with enough anodized aluminum housings for production, the pressure has intensified, because the iPhone 5 is more delicate and easier to scratch during the assembly process, said five factory workers interviewed by Bloomberg News outside the Zhengzhou plant. They spoke on condition that their full names not be used.
Last week, it was rumored that a strike had taken place at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory, the strike was supposedly called because workers were unhappy with being asked to work during holidays and overly strict demands on product quality without necessary training. Foxconn denied that the strike had ever taken place and that production was continuing as normal.
It will be interesting to see how well the iPhone 5 wears over the next few months and if it is as easy to scratch and scuff as many are claiming; if it doesn’t wear well then there will be a lot of unhappy customers. Apple prides itself on producing beautifully designed products that are functional as well as highly fashionable. If the iPhone 5 looks like it’s been dragged through a hedge backwards after a few months of use then this will clearly be a problem for many.
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