iPhone 5 fire impact up in air as iPad 2, iPhone 4 availability steady

The impact on the iPhone 5 release date, initial availability, and even feature set from this week’s factory fire is still up in the air, but the mishap has yet to impact availability of Apple’s existing iOS 4 products including the iPad 2, iPhone 4, and iPod touch 4. With observers having spent all of 2011 scratching their heads as to just what Apple has up its sleeve for the iPhone 5 after watching the company uncharacteristically release a Verizon iPhone 4 and then a white iPhone 4 precariously close to what most thought would be the calendar end of the iPhone 4 era, the factory fire adds another level of intrigue. By all accounts, Apple has not yet begun manufacturing the iPhone 5, which dovetails with the common-sense assumption that the end-of-April white iPhone 4 means the iPhone 5 is more likely to be a fall than a summer 2011 product. But while factories don’t rebuild themselves overnight, Apple’s considerable financial resources suggest that it can find another way to get the iPhone 5 to market when it’s ready to. Then again, this is the same company which couldn’t deliver the original iPhone 4 or the iPad 2 to market in quantity during their respective launches, as evidenced by the fact that the iPad 2 is still up to two weeks backordered after its launch in March.

For those who believe that the last minute white iPhone 4 means that the iPhone 5 isn’t coming until the fall, easy logic says that Apple plans for the iPhone 5 to be a total revamp; if it were to merely be an unchallenging iPhone 4S, it would have been ready by summer and thus there would have been no April white iPhone 4. In that scenario, does this fire impact Apple’s iPhone 5 plans? Doubtful. Apple is going to need a factory to manufacture the next iPhone in regardless, so it’s not as if suddenly switching to a less-revolutionary iPhone 5 design would change those prospects. On the other hand, for those who still believe that Apple is about to recklessly launch an “iPhone 5″ or an “iPhone 4S” at next week’s WWDC conference, a mere six weeks after launching the white iPhone 4, the fire would make a bigger impact in that scenario. But common sense says that scenario went away the minute the white iPhone 4 surfaced anyway. So what’s the real impact of the mishap on inventory? Keep an eye on iPhone 4 and iPad 2 availability on apple.com in the next few weeks. As of yet their lead times have held steady, as the store burns through in-house inventory. If those numbers begin to slip after existing inventory has been exhausted, then that says that the fire has had a major impact on Apple’s ability to get product out the door – and would suggest that Apple will need to find alternate avenues for ramping up for the iPhone 5 in the fall if the factory hasn’t been repaired by then. But if those ship dates never do slip, then that’ll imply that Apple had a Plan B in place already and there’s little to worry about. Here’s more on the iPhone 5.

Source : Beatweek

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