iPhone 5 “In Production” For 2 Months Now, Conflicting Reports

A new report today that suggests Foxconn is churning out 150,000 iPhone 5 units a day is a good sign. But what about all of the iPhone 5 production reports from two months back?

I was intrigued by an article today that stemmed from a DigiTimes report (Digitimes has led the way in reporting on iPhone 5 production) indicating that Foxconn is pumping out 150,000 iPhone 5 units a day. That is a staggering amount of iPhones, and it’s strange to imagine how a person’s beloved iPhone — which comes to be seen as “one of a kind” by its user — is actually more like “one of 5 million.” InformationWeek has a great article on this story that you should check out, wherein they note that “Apple’s long-time partner Foxconn is churning out as many as 150,000 iPhone 5s per day, at a pace of 5 to 6 million per month. That puts the total for the rest of the year in the ballpark of 22 million, which is in line with analyst estimates on what Apple might be able to do.”

To be sure, this is great news, assuming it’s true: the fact that Apple is pushing Foxconn this hard in September indicates that things are on the move for the iPhone 5. What’s interesting, however, is that we have had similar reports of early and aggressive iPhone 5 production as far back as June. It was the notion that iPhone 5 production was fully underway during the summer that led many to assume that September would make the most sense for an iPhone 5 announcement.

But now, when it seems as if September is the first month where Apple and its component suppliers/assemblers have been serious about producing the new iPhone, it’s no wonder that we’re sitting here, twiddling our thumbs, waiting for an announcement. Were all of those summer iPhone 5 product reports false, or misreported?

Summer of 2011′s “Unproductive” iPhone 5 Production Reports: A Timeline

Between the iPhone 5 News Blog and iPhone 5 News Ticker, we can account for almost 2 1/2 months of iPhone 5 production reports that suggested iPhone 5 was in the works soon after the WWDC. Just after the WWDC, we reported that there was no news of iPhone 5 production. But on June 21st, in another article, we wrote that “Component manufacturers have begun to receive orders,” and that “’the production ramp is expected to start in July,’” according to Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies.” This is the first big news of iPhone 5 production, and we all expected July to be the month where the bulk of production would take place.

The iPhone 5 rumor mill followed up that report with a sketchy article on June 26th, claiming that “the order was for 1,500 iPhone 5s — certainly not the kind of number that would indicate full-on production.” What’s interesting is that this article’s source came from NZTimes, and the article “seem[ed] to have been written by someone who doesn’t speak English natively (and who typed the piece blindfolded).” Today, the Times of India‘s online article reported the 150,000 per day iPhone 5 production story, but got the placement of the comma in the number horribly wrong (currently, they have their headline written as “Apple making 1,50,000 iPhone 5 a day”).

By July, however, as promised, the tech media was giving us the red meat they had promised when they said that iPhone 5 production would ramp up. Charles Moore’s July 6th article, “Apple Orders 15 Million iPhone 5s From Pegatron; Sprint-Nextel iPhone By Christmas?,” was landmark in setting the stage for even a plausible August iPhone 5 launch, which had been rumored for a while. Charles reports: “Digitimes’ Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai are reporting that their unnamed sources say Taiwan-based notebook computer maker Pegatron Technology has landed orders from Apple for approximately 15 million iPhone 5s and is on track to start shipping in September.” And our corresponding article on the Ticker indicates that production also had begun around this time.

But just a few days later, we posted this article on the Ticker, stating that “While there have been several reports of Apple placing production orders with Pegatron and Foxconn for anywhere between 5 and 25 million iPhone 5 units, by and large, very little news has come out from Asia over the past weeks, calling into question where iPhone 5 production currently stands. Today, a memo from a top tech analyst suggests that production may not have even begun on the iPhone 5 yet, and the elusive iPhone’s release date may not be until October or November.” This story seems to be becoming eerily prophetic, even though it received little attention at the time.

At the end of July, further reporting suggested that “Reports Out Of The Orient Indicate iPhone 5 On Track For September 6 to 15 Release.”

Comparitively, August was rather silent with respect to iPhone 5 production — not a very good sign, considering that we were all expecting a possible early September announcement. The only big iPhone 5 production story was filed by Charles on August 16th, “Apple Orders 56 Million+ iPhones For 2H ’11 – Nearly Half iPhone 5 – Report.” His article cites Digitimes again, but the reports are about orders, not production.

To be sure, throughout the Summer, we’ve seen purported leaked photos of iPhone 5 production, but all of them have been dubious at best. The fact is, no one really seems to know when iPhone 5 production really began — only now are we hearing of big-time production runs for the iPhone 5. In the past, it has all been about “orders” and “sales projections.”

If Apple in indeed planning on selling 15 to 25 million iPhone 5 units by the end of 2011, then we’d better hope that full-force iPhone 5 production indeed started sometime in July and not in early September.

 By Michael Nace


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