According to a research report from BlueFin Research Partners, by way of Barron's, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is on track to "build only 5M iPhone X in the September quarter, supporting the view that the OLED iPhone will be extremely limited initially."
In a seeming contradiction to these low initial build plans, BlueFin reportedly says that suppliers of components into the new phone "are being tasked with supplying parts far in excess of corresponding near-term build schedules."
This disconnect between Apple's initial build plans and what Apple is telling component suppliers to build, BlueFin explains, is leading to the circulation of "an enormous amount of misinformation and fake news."
The analysts then go on to say that they have increased their "outlook for builds and ships" of the new iPhone models from the fourth quarter of 2017 through the first half of 2018.
There is "official" evidence to suggest this
I'm inclined to believe that BlueFin's research is good for a couple of reasons. First, BlueFin's track record with this sort of stuff is generally quite good. However, beyond that, major Apple supplier Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO), which is expected to supply the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chipset, various RF chips, and wireless charging components into the new phones, indicated on its most recent earnings call that the next-generation iPhone ramp-up would be later than typical.
Indeed, Broadcom CEO Hock Tan said back in June that the ramp-up "appears slower this year compared to prior years," but he also said that the ramp up "will likely accelerate" during Broadcom's fourth quarter.
Considering that Broadcom should ship roughly the same dollar content into all three iPhone models -- the same Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, RF, wireless charging, and so on -- this seems to corroborate the reported production push-outs of not only the OLED iPhone but also of the more mainstream iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s+ models.
What does this mean for Apple stock?
The common view among analysts seems to be that these production delays just mean Apple's revenue from the new products will be deferred into future quarters rather than "lost."
BlueFin, as noted, cut its nearer-term build and shipment estimates but raised its longer-term ones. And Katy Huberty, another well-known analyst who covers Apple, echoed similar sentiments, by way of Barron's.
"Huberty simply moves 6 million units of iPhone 8 from the September quarter into December," Barron's said.
Given this now seemingly widespread expectation of a push-out of next-generation iPhone revenue, and the continued expectation that these new iPhone models will sell rather well when they finally arrive, I must agree with the notion that this delay probably isn't going to be a big deal for Apple's business or its stock price longer-term.
The only thing that gives me pause is that the longer it takes for Apple to get these new devices out (or, at the very least, the longer it takes for Apple to take orders for the devices), the more opportunity Apple's competition will have to launch and sell competing products.
Moreover, while it does appear that Apple is preparing several compelling new innovations with these new devices, these new iPhones are as exciting as they are because Apple has been behind the curve in some areas and is going to finally catch up with what some competitors have been doing, in terms of full-face OLED display, new display aspect ratio, and so on.
That said, I continue to believe it's better for Apple to launch extremely compelling products and miss the typical September launch schedule than to launch mediocre products on time.