“Last year, we started selling iPhones in late September,” the company’s chief financial officer, Luca Maestri, said on the call in late July. “This year, we project supply to be available a few weeks later.”
While the pandemic may have affected the supply of specific components, manufacturing capacity has made “a strong recovery” in recent months, according to Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research. If the forthcoming phone delivers genuinely new technology consumers crave, pushing the launch back should be fine for sales.
“The iPhone 12 may have enough new to it to warrant a separate event; the key is to have it ready in the run-up to the holidays, so a change in launch by a few weeks isn’t a major change,” Rubin said.
The ability to operate on the next-generation of super fast wireless networks could convince millions of people to upgrade their smartphones.
Apple is jumping into the 5G fray just as next-generation compatibility is becoming a common smartphone feature and before the highly touted benefits of 5G coverage are widely available. Apple can likely count on the iPhone’s loyal user base to wait until later this fall for a 5G device from their preferred brand.
“Almost all of the major Android brands now have at least one 5G line in the market; Samsung has several,” Rubin said. “So, it’s important in terms of keeping up feature parity and future-proofing, but the networks are still being built out and a dramatic speed increase versus 4G hasn’t yet come to most 5G networks.”
In terms of stoking consumer enthusiasm, it makes sense to push the announcement back to account for the manufacturing disruptions, analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote in a research note on Sept. 10.
“An iPhone announcement closer to product launch and shipment dates is less likely to disrupt demand.”