With the holiday season fast approaching, we can safely assume that demand for the new iPhone 5 will surge to some degree, though even now it appears that Foxconn, the company charged with assembling the device, is feeling the pressure.
Speaking to reporters after a business forum on Wednesday, Foxconn boss Terry Gou said, “It’s not easy to make the iPhones. We are falling short of meeting the huge demand.”
Gou’s comments appear to back up a number of recent reports regarding the production of the latest iteration of Apple’s popular smartphone. Last month an official at the Taiwan-based manufacturer told the Wall Street Journal that the handset was “the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled,” largely because its lighter, thinner design called for more precision from factory workers when putting it together. “It takes time to learn how to make this new device. Practice makes perfect. Our productivity has been improving day by day,” the official added.
Another issue facing the production line is the phone’s susceptibility to damage, with its relatively soft aluminum casing more prone to scuffs and scratches compared to the glass back found on the iPhone 4S. Shortly after the phone launched in September, a number of disgruntled customers took to forums to complain that their new handset had arrived damaged. Following this, reports emerged that Apple executives had ordered a quality-control crackdown at Foxconn in an effort to reduce the number of less-than-perfect handsets leaving plants.
No doubt Apple CEO Tim Cook will be more than a little perturbed by the fact that more than six weeks after the iPhone 5 launched, shipping time on its online store is still showing at between three and four weeks. Demand for the new phone may be healthy, but Cook will want Foxconn to find a way of cranking them out at a faster rate – a solution which could involve the Taiwan-based company outsourcing some of the orders to other manufacturers to help cope with demand.