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Apple's Lightning connector shortage blamed on supplier change, poor production yield rates

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
As Apple's new iPhone 5 sees record-breaking sales, a report on Monday explains why the unit's new Lightning connector and associated adaptors are seeing stockouts.

A research note shared with AppleInsider, well-informed KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo notes a change in supplier weighting combined with low yield rates has caused a shortage of Lightning connector supply.

Lightning Plug


Being roughly 80 percent smaller than its predecessor, Lightning is a complex component and requires new production methods, therefore decreasing the initial yield rate.

It is estimated that Cheng Uei, otherwise known as Foxlink, has been allocated 60 percent of all Lightning production, while Hon Hai, or Foxconn, retains the remaining 40 percent. However, output from supply channels indicate that only Foxlink is able to make stable shipments due to a better yield rate, meaning overall supply can't meet crushing demand from early iPhone 5 adopters.

With previous iDevices, Hon Hai was the main supplier of the 30-pin connector and enjoyed a 50 to 60 percent share of orders while other companies picked up the slack. When the new Lightning connector was introduced alongside the iPhone 5, however, yield rates from Hon Hai's facilities were low, allowing rival company Cheng Uei to take the lead in supplying Apple with the new part.

While the specific numbers are unknown, the change in supply weighting from Foxconn to Foxlink is seen as a definite driver in the supply shortage.

Sources say Apple has asked Cheng Uei to dedicate additional workers and production lines to Lightning production to make up for the supply gap, however the ramp up process requires time and is not expected to be solved overnight.

Despite being criticized for introducing a new dock form factor, effectively rendering a decade of 30-pin compatible accessories obsolete, Apple saw Lightning connectors and cables sell out in less than half an hour after iPhone 5 preorders went live last week. Currently, the Apple Store is showing delivery times for the adaptors and connectors pushed back into October.
post #2 of 20
You cannot buy a lightning adapter here in Tokyo until mid-October. It's a pain but the small lightning plug itself is nice.
post #3 of 20
Went to the Apple Store in Albany and they had probably 4-6 pegs full of Lightning cables. If you live within 30-60 miles of a store go there instead of waiting for a shipment. I'll probably do the same when the adapters show up on the online store.
post #4 of 20
So which is it? The Lightning connector, the displays, or labor shortages in China due to the riots? /s

Wouldn't it be more prudent to wait until there are some facts rather than repeating every stray rumor that comes across your desk?
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Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #5 of 20
I bought an extra Lightening cable so I can have one at home and one in my bag when I'm mobile. I didn't even through a fit or berate the Apple Store employee about how Apple is making me buy new connectors all so they can fatten their wallets even more by forcing me to buy all new stuff. Apple discovered my only weakness; the desire for high quality and convenience at affordable prices. Damn them¡

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post #6 of 20

I have 5 lightening cables now. I thought it best to just get the cables until I can get an adapter or two later.

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post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

I have 5 lightening cables now. I thought it best to just get the cables until I can get an adapter or two later.

1) Cable is cheaper, too.

2) Why do you need 5? Not that you won't use them over the next decade or so but why 5 right now?

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post #8 of 20

Wife has an iPhone 5 as well, work, home, car, etc. 

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post #9 of 20
Connectorgate
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
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post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

I have 5 lightening cables now. I thought it best to just get the cables until I can get an adapter or two later.

Lightening cables? How many do you need before the iPhone doesn't way anything at all? :-)
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post #11 of 20
By the feeling and hardness, it seems to me that the metal connector itself could be made of the same stuff as the iPhone 3G/GS sim eject tool. That liquid metal alloy.
It may be difficult to mass produce. Just a thought, I don't have much knowledge of the material or of production involving metal alloys.
post #12 of 20

I bought one extra lightning connector one for the office one for home. The adapters are apparently not yet available.

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post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

So which is it? The Lightning connector, the displays, or labor shortages in China due to the riots? /s
Wouldn't it be more prudent to wait until there are some facts rather than repeating every stray rumor that comes across your desk?

 

Prudence is not in the business model of most tech blogs.

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Lightening cables? How many do you need before the iPhone doesn't way anything at all? :-)

 

"Way" anything? Probably a good idea to check your own spelling if you're going to mock someone else's. :)

post #15 of 20
Cables seem widely available at the local Apple stores in the Boston area. I picked up two yesterday, and availability is good tonight.
post #16 of 20

We get by with 5 or 6 cables in our family. That's with two kids with their goodies plus mom and dad. I hope Apple's prices come down on cables but it doesn't really bother me. I love new technology and never liked the 30-pin monster. I could bitch as I have an expensive B&W Zeppelin in the kitchen with the old 30-pin connector. It also has a regular audio jack that I've preferred over the years anyhow. Plugging devices into the 30-pin male connector was always precarious.

 

Going forward, I'll be buying bluetooth peripherals like my recent Logitech Mobile Boombox UE, a groovy wireless speaker that makes watching movies in bed with my iPad a joy.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viwZ3bRzna0

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbinger View Post

"Way" anything? Probably a good idea to check your own spelling if you're going to mock someone else's. 1smile.gif

Yep. Good point. I can't figure how that got through.
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post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post

I could bitch as I have an expensive B&W Zeppelin in the kitchen with the old 30-pin connector. It also has a regular audio jack that I've preferred over the years anyhow. Plugging devices into the 30-pin male connector was always precarious.

Couldn't agree more on the audio jack being the best plug ever: it goes in '360 positions' whereas the LC only fits in 2 positions. Was there really now way to make a plug round and still have all the properties of the LC?
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post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Couldn't agree more on the audio jack being the best plug ever: it goes in '360 positions' whereas the LC only fits in 2 positions. Was there really now way to make a plug round and still have all the properties of the LC?

They'd have to have place all the pins on are rows on the cylindrical plug. That might mean it would have to be longer than it is now but even if they could get all of them in where the current 4(?) reside on the headphone jack I think there might be some issues with the data throughput and power transfer.

Apple has this working on their iPod Shuffle but the power and data is very slight compared what Lightning can do. That said, I have no idea if that's because of the connector or limitations of the internal HW.

Based on the size and shape I find that Lightning slides in much easier than the 3.5mm headphone jack because I don't have to be as exact with the plug hole. With Lightning I can just get in the general area and rotate with slight pressure and it will fall in place.

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post #20 of 20

Actually I never liked the audio jack either. Apple's implementation was the best I've experienced - always nice and tight. I do remember reading an article about the iPod headphone jack initially coming off the line with a flimsy-ish fit where Steve demanded they go back and make it snug.

 

The circular fit is nice, yes, but no one ever made it feel sturdy. And then every piece of electronics that I ever had that used it, the jack would fail. On my radios, the sound output would go in and out or would crackle.

 

For my money, I love the mag-safe connectors. As someone else said, however, bluetooth 4 or whatever iteration its at will likely replace cables anyhow.

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