So far, Apple has weathered the global chip shortage better than just about any other major electronics manufacturer. They have continued to ship Macs, iPads and iPhones on time and keep them in stock, or at least more so than their biggest competitors.
This is likely due to the company’s size and incredible buying power. For over a decade, Apple has committed a large amount of money and resources to make sure they are the top priority for their suppliers. That has served them well with supplies now in a bind.
Unfortunately, it sounds like even Apple’s money and good fortune has its limits. The global chip and component shortages are widespread enough that they may finally be taking a bite out of some upcoming devices. This news comes courtesy of Nikkei Asia, which reports that coming MacBooks and iPads may be running into productions and shipping schedule issues.
The bad news is that this is coming from a legitimate news outlet that has connections in Asian supply chains. It is likely that this report is at least partially accurate. For those of us waiting on the 2021 iPad Pro or the 2021 MacBook Pros, this could mean a much longer wait is in store.
The good news, at least for now, is that Nikkei Asia’s report stops short of saying that device releases will definitely be delayed.
Chip shortages have caused delays in a key step in MacBook production — the mounting of components on printed circuit boards before final assembly — sources briefed on the matter told Nikkei Asia. Some iPad assembly, meanwhile, was postponed because of a shortage of displays and display components, sources said.
As a result of the delay, Apple has pushed back a portion of component orders for the two devices from the first half of this year to the second half, the people said. Industry sources and experts say the delays are a sign that the chip shortage is growing more serious and could impact smaller tech players even more heavily.
Whoever wrote this article definitely hedged a bit. Some iPad assemblies. A portion of component orders. The news on the MacBook Pros is a little more dire, but there is enough wiggle room in these statements for a new iPad Pro to still be released sometime this Spring. However, you can bank on stock being incredibly limited at release if that is the case.
All recent reports have pointed to Apple releasing new iPad Pros sometime this month, possibly as soon as next week (if they choose to release without an event). These aren’t rumors from unreliable sources, either. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg reported it when the earlier rumors of a March Apple event fell apart. However, those reports came before we heard the global chip shortage may finally be catching up to Apple. It’s possible that they may be forced to change their plans.
My completely unsourced opinion on this situation is that Apple will release new iPad Pros this spring. I won’t be surprised if that release is more limited than they originally intended. Maybe just the 12.9″ model is released soon, with the 11″ (likely without a miniLED screen based on earlier reports) or 5G cellular models being delayed until later in the year. Maybe stock is just very, very limited and shipping dates will stretch out for a few months. Whatever happens, I continue to believe a new iPad Pro will come this spring until we hear specific reliable reports saying otherwise.
My reasoning for this is that I think Apple will want to get some version of their latest and greatest iPad hardware out there before iPadOS 15 is announced at WWDC in June. Even if that means the release date slips into May, I still think they will get an initial run of stock into the hands of iPad fans and power users before the new software features are announced. That group of users is the primary market for the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and let’s be honest- we aren’t an iPhone-sized audience. A limited stock run might be enough to satisfy most of the first run of preorders.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, at least for now.