Apple’s display tech prompts iPhone 5 supply shortfall


Apple might be suffering from an iPhone 5 supply shortfall, all because of its new display technology.

According to Barclays, which recently spoke with Bloomberg, Apple relies upon both Sharp and LG Display to produce the iPhone 5’s screen. However, Sharp has faced some trouble limiting defects, causing the company to only start shipping screens after the iPhone 5 went on sale. In addition, Tom Dinges, a senior principal analyst at IHS iSuppli, told Bloomberg that “supply constraints” might have hampered total iPhone 5 adoption.

Apple’s iPhone 5 comes with in-cell touch sensing. Unlike the iPhone 4S, which came with a display and a separate touchscreen, Apple’s iPhone 5 combines the two layers. That has resulted in better color representation, but also presents new challenges for suppliers, which have faced some trouble producing the technology.

The display technology is also more expensive. According to an iSuppli teardown of the iPhone 5, the new display costs Apple $44. The iPhone 4S display set Apple back $37.

“This is due to the iPhone 5’s larger display — at 4.0 inches diagonally, compared to 3.5 inches for the iPhone 4S — and the inclusion of the new in-cell touchscreen technology,” iSuppli said.

Despite some concerns over supply, Apple’s iPhone 5 still performed extremely well, reaching 5 million units sold in its first weekend of availability. The iPhone 4S was only able to muster 1 million unit sales in its first weekend last year.

Still, Wall Street had hoped for better performance, with estimates reaching as high as 10 million units sold. One analyst said that 6 million units sold would be a “worst-case scenario.”

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the reported supply shortfall. We will update this story when we have more information.


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