It's said that money can't buy everything—and the world's most valuable company seems to be learning that lesson the hard way. Nikkei Asia Review today reported that even Apple's supply chain has been weakened by the global chip shortage.
Apple has devoted a lot of time, expertise, and cold hard cash to making sure it can keep pace with consumer demand. The company is TSMC's biggest customer by far; it's also said to be responsible for roughly 50% of Foxconn's revenue. That means it's often given special treatment, especially when it comes to order fulfilment.
But—surprise!—even Apple can't make components appear out of thin air. Nikkei Asia Review reported that "chip shortages have caused delays in a key step in MacBook production," namely "the mounting of components on printed circuit boards before final assembly," according to the outlet's anonymous sources.
The report also said that iPad production was delayed by a lack of displays and unidentified display components. That hardly comes as a surprise, given that display panel supplies have suffered in recent months, and that the hardware display drivers on which those panels rely are suffering their worst shortage in 20 years.
Nikkei Asia Review said that "Apple has pushed back a portion of component orders for the two devices from the first half of this year to the second half" because of these delays. So far it's able to keep pace with demand for its existing products, per the report, but it's not clear how these delays might affect its plans for new devices.
This might also explain the lack of announcements from Apple so far this year. With the exception of its annual developer conference, the company hasn't revealed anything new since announcing its custom silicon in November 2020.
Yet there are signs that Apple is working on a redesigned iMac, redesigned MacBook Pro, and new iPad Pro models that are supposed to debut this year. It would be a surprise if the company lumped all those announcements in with the products on annual update cycles—namely the iPhone and Apple Watch—or some new devices.
The company might start to reveal some of these leaked devices in the months leading up to WWDC21, of course, and it could technically have a rapid-fire series of announcements in the end of the year. But for now it looks like even Apple's plans have been thrown off by the supply issues affecting so much of the tech industry.