Apple iPhone Sales Revised Downward Amidst Supply Chaos

The Tap Economy Part 1: Screen Commerce

Analyst decreases expected iPhone sales for 2022 and first quarter of 2023 as main iPhone plant remains below 70 percent capacity

An industry analyst has revised downard its estimate of Apple’s iPhone shipments for 2022 and the first quarter of 2023 amidst supply chain disruption that has also affected Tesla and other tech companies.

Taiwanese research firm TrendForce last week revised downward its estimate of Apple’s iPhone 14 sales for 2022 to 78.1 million units.

The company said it now believes Apple will sell about 47 million units of all smartphone models in the first quarter of 2023, a year-on-year decline of 22 percent.

TrendForce previously estimated 52 million iPhone unit sales for the quarter.

Image credit: Foxconn, apple, iphone
Image credit: Foxconn

Production ‘strain’

The firm said it believes production at Foxconn’s biggest iPhone facility, in Zhengzhou, has still not risen above 70 percent of capacity following disruption caused by a Covid-19 outbreak that began in October.

“The new (iPhone) Pro models have been in high demand, so Apple has kept raising their share in the overall iPhone production,” TrendForce said in a research note. “Hence, Foxconn as the sole assembler of the new Pro models has been under significant strain.”

The firm noted that Foxconn has brought in production from its other major plant in Shenzhen but said this was “not enough” to ease the capacity crunch.

It said Apple now plans to diversify its supply of high-end iPhone models by bringing in Chinese firm Luxshare to assemble the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Disruption continues

But it noted that Luxshare’s only iPhone assembly plant is in China, making it vulnerable to disruption currently affecting the country.

China faced repeated lockdowns throughout 2022 under the country’s zero-Covid policy, and has more recently been hit by surging coronavirus cases since the government scrapped the policy in early December.

Apple’s shares hit their lowest value since June 2021 last week over the supply issues, while Tesla’s stock has dropped about 73 percent since a record high in November 2021.

Tesla last week reduced its production plans for January at its Shanghai plant amidst sluggish domestic sales and the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations later this month, according to media reports.