According to AppleInsider, market analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who typically has pretty good inside information about forthcoming products and the timing of their release, issued a note to investors over the weekend saying that production issues facing the rumored 5.5-inch iPhone may cause it to be delayed—until 2015, or in a best-case scenario, late November.
He said that manufacturers are having difficulty with the new in-cell touch-panel technology, which eliminates a layer in the screen and allows for a thinner phone. In addition, he said that color uneveness on the casing is also a problem. His note indicated that these issues are also present on the 4.7-inch phone, causing production bottlenecks, but that the challenge is even greater with the larger phone. A third factor, Kuo says, is that sapphire crystal tends to be brittle, and that this could also be an issue with the larger 5.5-inch phone.
Kuo also said last week that the iWatch is facing delays and may not be available until as late as December. On a more positive note, he says that he expects Apple to come out with a new version of their Apple TV set-top box this fall that will include motion controls. Plus, he suggests Apple may also roll out a third-party app store for Apple TV.
My take on it is pretty much in line with Kuo's. The absence of leaked parts, and photos of those parts, makes it seems evident that the 5.5-inch iPhone will be coming later than the 4.7-inch model that's expected. Also, given the rumors from usually reliable sources and all the hiring of experts on wearable devices, it seems evident we'll be seeing an iWatch. But given the challenges of bringing a new product category to market, it does seem likely that it may not arrive until late this year. The Apple TV is definitely due for an update, and given the increasing adoption of Roku devices, Apple needs to make a move in this market in order to keep pace. And a third-party app store seems like a no-brainer. I'll also go along with Kuo on this one.
Apart from these rumors of production delays, in this post my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard makes a good point that a staggered rollout also makes the best sense in terms of marketing. So even if there were no challenges in manufacturing, it would make sense for Apple to follow this sort of timetable anyway.
He also makes the good point that delays are part of the game with new technology. Apple has set such high standards for quality, and sells such a huge number of devices, that every facet of production needs to be functioning perfectly for Apple to come out with a new product. It's essential that yield rate (percentage of defect-free devices) be as high as possible.