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Rumor: new iMacs to be delayed due to production issues?

updated 07:00 pm EST, Wed November 14, 2012

Apple previously warned that units would see 'significant shortage'

A rumor from French Mac enthusiast site MacBidouille has insisted that on top of Apple's previous warning that the new iMac model announced last month would see "significant shortages," manufacturing difficulties may push the debut of the thinner, optical drive-less iMac models into 2013. Currently, Apple's US website continues to list the 21.5-inch model as available later this month, with the 27-inch model coming next month.

Should the rumor turn out to be true, chances are the delay would center around Apple's new production method, dubbed "friction-stir welding." The technique, which utilizes intense heat and pressure, used to create even more seamless joins than previous techniques. Apple CEO Tim Cook had previously acknowledged in a conference call to analysts that the iMac would see "significant shortages" but did not specify why, and continued to expect that the new iMac would make its original November and December delivery dates.

Another factor that could hinder production of the iMac is the new screen lamination process, which is said to be more involved and difficult than with earlier models. The screen bonding used in the new iMac eliminates up to 2mm of thickness that had formed a "air gap" between the glass and display in previous models, reports AppleInsider. The latest model is also bereft of an optical drive, allowing the chassis to be as thin as 5mm at the edges.

These changes in manufacturing may combine to make the new iMac harder to build, with lower yields at the quality level Apple demands. Foxconn, one of the company's main manufacturing partners, has previously complained about the complexity of the manufacturing techniques used on Apple's iPhone 5.

And more likely scenario is that Apple will continue to offer iMac ordering beginning in late November, with long delivery times until supplies are more reliable. Like the initial orders of the iPhone and iPad mini, the new iMac may be severely constrained through the holiday season until buying pressure is relieved with higher manufacturing yields, which may not happen until the end of the year.

by MacNN Staff



  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09


    You know, when Apple announced that the new iMacs were going to be even thinner, I knew there'd be trouble. I suppose delays are better than after-the-fact discovery of defects, assuming we don't get those in addition to this, but would it really have killed them just to leave the case design alone? We already know the old design works, after all.

  1. Zanziboy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-27-08

    I am not sympathetic to the idea the design should not have changed, but troubled that Apple does not "second source" it's production. The failure of Apple management to second-source their manufacturing has lead to no iMacs being available for Christmas quarter. This supply failure is historic in that there has never been a Q1 in which the company has failed to supply a major Macintosh product line in time for Christmas.

    Apple consistently has production issues and needs to start second-sourcing the production of all of its products to prevent these product shortages and quality issues. If you have multiple assemblers, you gain the ability to pressure the assembly plants to improve quality. Right now, the companies manufacturing the products have too much power over Apple. For example, wifi antennas end up being integrated with audio cables to benefit the assembly companies at the detriment of wifi performance on iPads. Cheaper and easier assembly does not always benefit Apple. Often, it means more profits for the assembler, while Apple experiences product shortages and customer complaints. Clearly, some management heads need to roll at Apple.

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