Apple was reportedly forced to halt iPhone and iPad assembly for the first time in a decade

You may not be able to get an iPhone or iPad for Christmas if you attempt to buy one now.

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Mariella Moon
December 8, 2021 1:17 PM
iPhone 13
David Imel for Engadget

Apple was forced to cease iPhone and iPad production for several days when it was supposed to kick into high gear, according to a report from Nikkei Asia. It's no secret that Apple hasn't been immune to the global supply chain shortages despite its enormous purchasing power. The tech giant previously lowered its iPhone 13 production goals for the year and had to cut back on the iPad's production to allocate more parts for its mobile flagship devices. But this is reportedly the first time in a decade that the company had to cease operations at its factories during China's Golden Week. 

Apple factories typically ramp up production during the Chinese holidays that take place at the beginning of October, running 24 hour shifts so that it can keep up with holiday shopping demands. This year, though, it reportedly gave its workers some time off instead. A supply chain manager told the publication that it made no sense to pay workers overtime for working during the holidays when there were very limited component and chips to work with. As a result, people who may be thinking of getting a new iPad or a new iPhone as a Christmas gift for loved ones or themselves may not get it in time for the season. 

Nikkei Asia says that supply chain issues started way before the pandemic, when Chinese companies blacklisted by the United States hoarded inventories to survive crackdowns. That said, the COVID-19 lockdowns implemented in Malaysia and Vietnam due to the Delta variant heavily affected the production of numerous electrical components and chips. 

In many cases, bottlenecks weren't caused by the lack of a device's most expensive components, but its cheaper peripheral parts. Component manufacturers that don't have as much purchasing power as tech giants fall to the back of the list when it comes to raw materials, after all. For the iPhone 13 Max, for instance, tiny peripherals that only cost a few cents each are what's causing the delay. 

Apple chief Tim Cook previously said that the company lost $6 billion for the quarter ending in September due to supply chain constraints, and that he believes that it could lose more in the final quarter of the year. It still remains to be seen if Apple would still enjoy the same level of demand by the time it has the components to manufacture its devices. Nikkei Asia says Apple told suppliers that demand persists for the iPhone 13 and to reaccelerate their component production for November, December and January. According to a previous Bloomberg report, though, Apple warned suppliers that demand for its biggest revenue source has already weakened just before the holidays.

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