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There is a global shortage of semiconductors right now that is affecting all sorts of industries, as almost all hardware these days depends on silicon at some level. The automobile industry is being particularly affected, with manufacturers simply unable to produce as many cars as they planned to while they wait on component availability.
As one of the world’s largest buyers of silicon, Apple’s sheer size and market power meant they have been able to buy up available capacity and continue production of key products like the iPhone unscathed, at least so far. However, a report from Nikkei today says that even Apple is hurting, with production of some iPad and MacBook models impacted.
Nikkei says that iPad assembly is being held up by a shortage of display components. Meanwhile, suppliers of MacBooks are stuck at a key bottleneck: the mounting process of components onto circuit boards.
These issues have meant that Apple has been forced to push back production of a “portion of component orders” into the second half of the year, according to Nikkei. The report doesn’t say which models of iPad and MacBook in particular are affected.
It has been widely rumored that Apple was readying an iPad Pro refresh for early 2021, but it’s unclear if the chip shortages will have disrupted the schedule of that product line. The iPad Pro is simply a much lower volume product compared to Apple’s mainstream computer devices like the $329 iPad or $999 MacBook Air.
Nikkei says downstream iPhone component availability is “tight,” although production is currently continuing at normal levels.
Sitting at the top of the tech food chain, Apple has the influence and the money to typically get what it wants from suppliers. However, if the chip shortage is even hitting iPad and MacBooks, then it should be a major warning sign for smaller companies that don’t have Apple’s bargaining power. Most analysts expect the semiconductor shortage to persist for many months yet.
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