Supply issues with Qualcomm LTE chip points to Fall release for the iPhone 5

Mon, Apr 23, 2012


It used to be that we’d speculate on what features Apple’s next-gen iPhone would have, but now the iPhone’s release date is also a question open to speculation. Apple of course routinely released a new iPhone model in the Summer months, but the delayed October launch really changed things up.

Since then, many have wondered if Apple would revert back to a Summer launch schedule or if it would maintain the 12-month release cycle and thus release its next-gen iPhone in the Fall of 2012. Most believe, however, that a Fall launch makes more sense since it pulling the iPhone 4S off the shelves prematurely just to have a new model out in the Summer wouldn’t make much business or practical sense.

And now comes word that Apple, even if they wanted to aim for a Summer launch, will likely have to wait until the Fall anyhow due to supply constraints involving LTE chips from Qualcomm.

Qualcomm last week warned analysts that they’re having issues meeting expected demand for its 28-nanometer LTE baseband chip, all but assuring that the iPhone 5 will be penciled in for a Fall 2012 launch as Qualcomm needs those extra few months to ramp up supply.

Reuters reports:

“At this stage we cannot secure enough supply to meet the increasing demand we are experiencing,” Chief Executive Paul Jacobs told analysts on a conference call, adding that the issue would limit revenue growth this year…

“Demand went so far ahead of availability that we’ve decided to start spending more money to get more supply as soon as possible,” [Chief Financial Officer Bill Keitel] told Reuters. “Any time we can’t make a customer totally happy I’m going to worry. You don’t want to give a customer a reason to go elsewhere.”

“It is more likely the phone launches in October given Qualcomm commentary around 28nm chip supply,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research note to investors. “We believe Apple will include LTE in the iPhone 5 as an important feature in the product update.”

The Qualcomm chip in question is the MDM9615 LTE chip, a chipset that supports voice and data connections, and which stands in contrast to the MDM9615 LTE chip used in the latest iPad which only supports data over 4G networks.


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