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Constraint on Apple Lightning Connectors?

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When the iPhone 5 arrived in September, gone was the traditional 30-pin connector and in was the sleeker, faster Lightning connector, which Apple said would increase transfer speed and reliability. All good things, right? Well, they’re good if you can get your hands on one – but in the case of many manufacturers, they can’t.

 

The transition to the Lightning connector was not as smooth as Apple would have liked. Shortly after the release of the iPhone 5, shipping times for the new cable jumped to 2-3 weeks. According to Ming-Chi Kuo of the Chinese financial analytics group KGI, this delay was caused by a switch of the supplier from Foxconn to Foxlink, who apparently could not keep up with the high demand.

 

Once the initial demand for the cable died down, Foxlink was able to catch up and produce a sufficient amount of connectors. And while consumers can now purchase the $19 cable without any delay, accessory manufacturers are apparently having trouble getting the connectors they need to produce third party, iPhone 5-compatible devices.

I’ve spoken to several manufacturers this week at CES and the sentiment seems to be the same: that they don’t know how many connectors they will be getting from Apple, or when they might receive them. This makes it extremely difficult for companies to forecast production when they’re not sure about if or when they will be able to build.

Where there’s demand, there’s counterfeiting

When the Lightning connector was announced, many thought that counterfeit knockoffs would be difficult to produce thanks to a new specialized chip in the connector. However, just last week, more than $600,000 worth of fake connectors from China were seized by U.S. customs in Anchorage. The counterfeit connectors even included Apple logos and trademark icons. The presence of counterfeits in the market should make reputable manufacturers even more cautious as they try to source scarce Lightning connectors.

 

So if you’re holding out for the latest and greatest iPhone 5 speaker dock, you may have to wait a little longer.


Todd Traylor, Vice President, Global Trading
Written on Thursday, 10 January 2013 16:08 by Todd Traylor, Vice President, Global Trading

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