Mobile // Mobile Devices
12:59 PM

iPhone 5 Supply Squeezed By Scuffgate Fix

Apple is trying to improve quality control practices along the iPhone 5 assembly line, which means it is taking longer to produce the new smartphone.

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The iPhone 5's smashing debut weekend has come and gone, leaving supplies of the device tight in its wake. Apple sold more than 5 million in just a few days, and if you go to today and try to order an iPhone 5, you'll have to wait three to four weeks.

That wait might get a little longer, however, now that Apple has taken measures to abate the Scuffgate problem.

Owners of the iPhone 5 reported scuffed devices coming brand new out of the box. Others noted that their device was easily scratched on the metallic surfaces. The iPhone 5 uses an aluminum housing that is anodized with black or white coloring. Aluminum is softer than the stainless steel that was used in the iPhone 4S/4 construction.

[ Apple may have its problems, but competitors are not taking advantage of them. Read BlackBerry 10 Launch: Is March Too Late? ]

Apple's official response to the issue was something along the lines of, "Hey, it's painted metal, and painted metal can be scratched. Deal with it." My words, obviously, not Apple's, but the message is the same.

According to Bloomberg, Apple has now applied stricter controls in its manufacturing process to solve this problem. Citing a source familiar with the situation, Bloomberg reported that Apple executives cracked down on Foxconn, which makes the iPhone 5, to "tighten production standards." Newer iPhone 5s will not have scratches when they are pulled new out of the box, and fewer of them will likely scratch when mishandled.

This is great news, but it comes at a cost: time.

The higher standards have slowed production, further constraining supply of the iPhone 5. In fact, Bloomberg notes the slowdown in production has left factories idle. In the U.S., it shouldn't be too hard to score an iPhone 5 if you want to go into an Apple store or carrier store. What's not clear is how the supply issues are affecting sales in other markets.

The problem has led to a decline in Apple's stock price. It was selling for $705 per share on September 21, the day the iPhone 5 launched. Today, Apple stock is trading at $640. The decline has erased $60 billion in value from Apple's market cap.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Terabyte Net
Terabyte Net,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/27/2012 | 12:32:09 PM
re: iPhone 5 Supply Squeezed By Scuffgate Fix
Funny, my Motorola DROID RAZR with it's Kevlar back has no scratches after almost a year being carried in my pocket, not in a case or with a screen or case protector. If Apple wasn't so secretive about its products perhaps they'd actually test them before they release them and they'd have discovered the antenna issues and that painted aluminum scratches. Ask any mountain bike user about scratches on aluminum frames.
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.