At least one of Apple's iPhone 14 models is three weeks behind the development schedule due to COVID lockdowns in China that could jeopardize mass production by summer's end, according to Nikkei Asia.
Despite the recent easing of restrictions in manufacturing hub Shanghai, the impact of lockdowns beginning in mid/late March through April has impacted supply chains:
"It is challenging to make up for the lost time. … Apple and its suppliers are working around the clock to speed up development," said an executive with an Apple supplier, adding that the pace of reopening in Shanghai is "rather slow."
Apple told suppliers to increase product development efforts to compensate for the lost time. Multiple sources told Nikkei that the worst-case scenario could unfold and delay mass production of at least one iPhone 14 series model.
It's not immediately clear which model is affected. The company is preparing to launch four new iPhone models, the iPhone 14, 14 Pro, 14 Max, and 14 Pro Max. Sources said all models are in the engineering verification test and usually move to the verification stage by June. This allows mass production to begin by the end of August or the first week of September.
"If the development process can be sped up and proceed to the next level around the end of June or beginning of July, then it should still be possible to meet the mass production deadline of early September," another person familiar with the matter said. "But it really depends on whether the process can accelerate soon."
A supply chain analyst with the Taiwan Institute for Economic Research, Chiu Shih-fang, warned, "China has not yet returned to normal" despite strict zero-COVID policies easing in the greater Shanghai area. The analyst noted, "It would take at least one to two more months for the supply chain to recover."
This is more evidence Apple isn't immune to the continuing effects of supply chain disruptions stoked by COVID. The tech behemoth warned last month it would recognize a $4 billion to $8 billion range hit in the current quarter because of the disruptions in the Shanghai area.
Clearly, Apple's overreliance on Shanghai factories for the final assembly of its iPhones is showing its weakness.