Qualcomm supply problems could delay iPhone?
Apple expected to use Qualcomm's LTE modem in next phone, but supply constraints may force it to stick to 4S's October launch schedule
Published: 20 April, 2012
Qualcomm's problems with getting sufficient supply of its new 28nm chips could delay the launch of a new iPhone, some analysts speculate, or at least keep the OEM on the October launch cycle it set in 2012 for the iPhone 4S.
In a research note, investment banking firm Piper Jaffray said it believes Apple will stick to the fall for its annual handset unveiling ceremony, a move from its original pattern of late spring, with the iPad generating the headlines in the earlier part of the year. However, this change may have been forced upon it by Qualcomm's admission that it had not yet secured sufficient capacity to meet demand for new chips. The San Diego firm is seeking additional foundry partners as its main supplier, TSMC, struggles to achieve full capacity for its new 28nm process.
This will affect the flagship Snapdragon S4 processor until the fourth quarter, Qualcomm has said, but could also hit LTE basebands, says Piper Jaffray. Apple does not use Snapdragon since it has its own A5 processor (and has had its own challenges in splitting the manufacture of that plant between existing supplier Samsung and TSMC). But it has turned to Qualcomm for CDMA modems and is expected to use the firm's LTE chips too.
"We expect the iPhone 5 to not only include a revolutionary newly designed body but also support LTE and utilize the Qualcomm 28nm baseband modem," said the research note.
On Qualcomm's earnings call, CEO Paul Jacobs said: "At this stage we cannot secure enough supply to meet the increasing demand we are experiencing."