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Dissecting the iPhone X Supply Chain

Dissecting the iPhone X Supply Chain

On the eve of Apple’s most important iPhone launch in recent years, the iPhone’s supply chain shortages and delivery delays continue to make headlines. With worldwide iPhone X pre-orders expected to top 40 million units, Apple is projected to only have 20 million iPhone units available to customers in the coming months. Making matters worse, the shortages aren’t expected to be resolved as Apple may not catch up to demand until Spring of next year.

While most companies don’t execute product launches at the scale of Apple’s massive rollouts, there are key lessons that we can all learn.

Removing the sourcing bottleneck

With only a mere (for Apple) 2-3 million iPhone X units available by the smartphone’s November 3 release date, many of the manufacturing delays have been attributed to sourcing challenges. Industry analysts have attributed Apple’s short supply to a low stock of three parts for the phone, including issues with sourcing the sophisticated facial recognition components, circuit boards and camera modules. The biggest culprit behind this issue is the smartphone’s facial recognition technology, which requires a 3-D sensor that recognizes faces and unlocks the handset. With the 3-D sensor in short supply, iPhone X production has faced some major hurdles.

Could centralized demand planning have helped?

In complex supply chains such as this, collaboration with a proven global fulfillment partner is critical to ensure manufacturing and delivery timetables are not compromised. With centralized demand planning in the capable hands of a fulfillment partner, brands can rest assured that planning, supplier management and inventory management of locally sourced components will be handled with precision.

For those following Apple’s sourcing and manufacturing bottlenecks, this lesson serves as a reminder that supply chain excellence is growing ever more complex and difficult to achieve. If interested in exploring how an end-to-end digital and physical supply chain solutions partner can help optimize your supply chain, please visit

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