The global silicon chip shortage appears to finally have reached Apple, as a new report states that it has delayed the production of some MacBook and iPad models. While it does not impact current product availability, the delay is a worrying sign that could change.
According to Nikkei Asia and echoed by Engadget, the supply chain issues that have affected everyone from GPU makers to automobile manufacturers is finally catching up to Apple. The issues are affecting the MacBook production at a key manufacturing step where components are mounted on a printed circuit board, while iPad production has been pushed back due to a shortage of displays and display components.
For now, Nikkei reports that these shortages are not having a direct effect on the current supply of Apple products, so consumers should not notice this issue when it comes to being able to purchase new devices… for now. But this issue is almost assured to eventually become an issue, as it is reported Apple has already moved the production timeline for new products away from the first half of this year and into the second half in anticipation of a parts shortage.
Apple has considerable clout when it comes to ordering and procuring parts, so seeing that the global silicon shortage has finally started to affect the consumer electronics giant is troubling.
The silicon shortage was bound to affect Apple at some point though, as it has already greatly affected the availability of computing parts for PCs and video game consoles, therefore making it extremely challenging for people to buy them. Much of the time this is blamed on scalpers and crypto mining, and while those two factors are part of it, Linus Tech Tips explains in the video above that its actually not the main reason getting these parts is so difficult.
Looking specifically at automobiles, many manufacturers expected the coronavirus pandemic to seriously slow down the rate at which consumers bought them, and adjusted timelines and production schedules ahead of that. And while initially that proved to be the case, the second half of last year saw that turn around in a big way. When people realized they didn’t want to be riding mass transit with a highly contagious disease on the loose, “demand came roaring back,” as Linus says.
Adding to that, new generation graphics cards finally gave consumers a reason to upgrade right at the same time that Sony and Microsoft released new gaming consoles, making demand skyrocket as people spent more time at home. But it doesn’t stop there: as more people pivoted to working from home, demand for the types of products necessary to effectively do so went through the ceiling.
When companies produce modern electronics, they don’t do so on a whim. Everything is planned well in advance, and factories producing the pieces necessary to make those electronics work have a fixed amount they can make in a given time period. According to Linus, that output is already at maximum capacity. The problem is that demand is just simply too high to be offset.
So while it is possible to point to one or two things that caused this supply shortage, it is actually the combination of all of these factors that have led to a dramatic difference between supply and demand. Hopefully, Apple is able to work around these issues, but at some point, the physical limitation of available electronics parts is just something you can’t get around, no matter how big of a company you are. With new iMacs and Macbook Pros expected this year, a delay due to shortages would put a damper on huge expectations consumers now have thanks to the wild success of Apple’s M1 MacBooks.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.