Complicated iPhone 5 Design behind Supply Shortage

by Matt Klassen on October 18, 2012

While certainly nothing new for Apple, the supply and demand issues surrounding the new iPhone 5 still have many waiting, frustrated that their online smartphone purchases are still three or four weeks away at best.

But an unnamed Foxconn official shed some light on this ongoing supply issue recently, telling The Wall Street Journal that the delays are due to the fact that the iPhone 5 is, “the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled,” adding that employees are still learning how to best manufacture the device…and here I thought it was an Apple marketing ploy.

Although the official offered an addendum of optimism, stating that “practice makes perfect” for employees struggling to meet Apple’s stringent production demands, it seems to me that such pressure to build the perfect phone is already weighing on the Foxconn masses, evidenced by the recent riots in one factory over overly-taxing manufacturing specifications and missed quotas, meaning that perhaps the supply issues for the iPhone 5 are here to stay… at least until underpaid Foxconn iSlaves learn to make your phone right.

Beyond the shipping delays, both Foxconn and Apple have come under fire for the iPhone 5’s vulnerability to scratches as well, with many who have already received their beloved new phone complaining that the aluminum coating of the phone is damaged right out of the box.

The unnamed Foxconn official addressed these concerns as well, stating that the company has implemented increased quality control checks on its products, no doubt yet another reason the employees at Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou, China walked off the job a week ago.

But perhaps all this will serve as an poignant object lesson for Apple, that perhaps its asking too much of underpaid Chinese workers to meticulously produce such a difficult device, holding those workers to an incredibly high manufacturing standard yet refusing to treat them as human beings.

In fact, given Foxconn’s ongoing struggles with Apple’s stringent iPhone 5 production design, perhaps the Cupertino giant has finally exceeded the production capabilities of its iSlaves, meaning that Apple might now be forced to invest more in the education and equitable treatment of these employees so they can reach their potential (instead of just beating them till they commit suicide and replacing them with some other unfortunate soul) in order to correctly produce these advanced products.

To that end, for a brief moment Apple became the focus of the presidential debate yesterday regarding its overseas manufacturing, with moderator Candy Crowley asking how Apple could bring manufacturing jobs to the U.S. For his part, Romney responded by saying that China needed to play fair in the manufacturing game, while Obama stated that there are some jobs that aren’t going to come back to America, given that they’re low-skilled, low-wage jobs.

Obama went on to say that what he wants in America are high-skilled, high-paying jobs, and given the complicated production demands of the iPhone 5, that just might mean future iterations of the iPhone might come with the stamp, “Made in America.”

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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