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iPhone 14 Pro availability improves as demand falls, supply grows

iPhone 14 Pro availability has greatly improved, now that Christmas demand has eased, and production at the world’s biggest assembly plant is reported to have climbed to around 70% of full capacity.

A few models are now available for immediate pickup at some Apple stores, while the company’s US online store is showing 1-2 week delivery for most other orders …

Background

iPhone 14 Pro production was very badly hit by a COVID-19 outbreak in the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant, in Zhengzhou, China. Colloquially known as iPhone City, the plant is estimated to produce around 80% of the global iPhone supply.

Workers complained of a lack of food and medication during the outbreak, and significant numbers chose to break out of the plant and return to their home towns.

Subsequent bonus offers had limited effect, and failure to pay them led to violent protests. Attempts to appease workers with compensation saw more than 20,000 workers leave.

The lockdown in Zhengzhou itself ended a month ago, but the Foxconn plant was classified as “high risk,” and obliged to continue using closed-loop production, where workers remain within the campus 24/7 for up to a month at a time. Most COVID-19 restrictions at the plant were subsequently removed, but there were claims that this was in part achieved by discouraging sick workers from getting tested.

iPhone 14 Pro availability improves

As early as mid-November, Apple was already unable to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas. Some estimates put the lost production at over 20M units. Whatever the actual number, things were bad enough for Apple to issue a rare stock warning.

However, now that the spike in demand for Christmas gifts has eased, and production continues its gradual recovery in China, the WSJ cites JP Morgan in noting that iPhone 14 Pro availability is back to near-normal levels.

“Supply is improving and inching slowly toward parity with demand,” J.P. Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee wrote in a note to investors this week about the iPhone 14 Pro.

Wait times for U.S. consumers ordering the latest iPhone Pro models, which once extended to 40 days, have improved, according to J.P. Morgan. 

In the U.S. and China, Apple’s websites show wait times for Pro models at around one to two weeks. Certain Pro models and colors are available for immediate pickup at some Apple stores in both countries. 

The same report estimates that production in iPhone City is now operating at around 70% of capacity, a dramatic improvement on last month.

Market intelligence company TrendForce says it’s still too early for celebration. After previously forecasting that Apple would ship 56M iPhones (across all models) in the first quarter of 2023, it has now downgraded that to 47M – more than 20% down on the same quarter this year.

Foxconn is reportedly trying to persuade workers to stay on until March, offering bonuses worth $700, which is close to around a month’s salary.

Photo: Khara Woods/Unsplash

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