Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Apple Finally Feels the Effects of the Global Chip Shortage

Employees wear protective masks as they walk past signage displayed in the window of the Apple Inc. flagship store in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Apple's annual Fall product blitz included new Apple Watches and an upgraded iPad Air. Later this year, the company is expected to unveil several new 5G iPhones. Photographer: David Gray/Bloomberg

Apple Inc.’s latest quarter was a blockbuster, with soaring revenue, record Mac sales, and stronger-than-anticipated iPhone demand. There was only one major snag: The global chip shortage is finally catching up to the company.

On a call with analysts, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri warned that supply constraints are crimping sales of iPads and Macs, two products that performed especially well during pandemic lockdowns. Maestri said this will knock $3 billion to $4 billion off revenue during the fiscal third quarter.

The executives blamed “semiconductor shortages that are affecting many industries” and “very, very high” demand for iPads and Macs. Cook said the component shortages were for “legacy nodes,” implying the setbacks are for products using older generation processors. He wouldn’t specify how long the shortages will last, but noted that Apple did not experience this problem during the previous quarter.

Earlier: Apple Sales Crush Estimates on Surging Device Demand

The electronics and automotive industries are among those that have been hurt by chip shortages since last year, when a sudden rebound in orders took the semiconductor industry by surprise. It takes months to ramp up production at chip factories, so demand is still outstripping supply.

The World Is Short of Computer Chips. Here’s Why: QuickTake

Apple had avoided any major impact from this phenomenon, until now. The company recently announced new iMac models and iPad Pros with custom M1 processors, but neither product will begin shipping until the second half of May — an unusually long delay.

Still, the company’s main product, the iPhone, seems unscathed at the moment.

5G Impact

Consumers, businesses and schools have been snapping up millions of iPads and Macs for remote work, and Cook suggested on Wednesday that the momentum won’t necessarily slow down after the Covid-19 pandemic ends. He said many businesses will shift to hybrid models with employees working at home and in the office. That could support continued demand for the devices.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant didn’t provide specific revenue guidance for the fiscal third quarter. Analysts estimate revenue will top $68.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg mostly before Wednesday’s results.

In Apple’s fiscal second quarter, the Mac generated a record $9.1 billion in sales, while the iPad topped Wall Street expectations with $7.8 billion in revenue.


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