Saturday 20 January 2018

Apple iPad 2 supplies 'threatened by Japan disaster'

The Apple iPad 2. Photo: Getty Images
The Apple iPad 2. Photo: Getty Images

Christopher Williams

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami are threatening supplies of iPad 2 components as Apple prepares to launch the device worldwide.

An analysis of the new device, which is assembled in China, found that five key parts were sourced from the stricken nation, including its unique battery and compass. The iPad 2’s new, more durable screen glass is also probably supplied by a high-tech Japanese glassmaker, it’s claimed.

The Japanese economy was crippled by last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, with Tokyo's streets increasingly deserted as people flee and stay in door in fear of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear reactors. Factories across the country sent workers home and have been hit by power cuts.

It would be difficult for Apple to find an alternative supplier for several of the the iPad’s Japanese components, said IHS iSuppli.

“The iPad 2’s compass works in close coordination with the tablet’s accelerometer and gyroscope. This makes it impossible to simply replace one manufacturer’s compass with another,” said principal analyst Jérémie Bouchaud.

The iPad 2's battery cells, largely responsible for its thinness compared to the first version, are meanwhile manufactured by Apple’s Japanese arm using advanced techniques that firms outside Japan may not be able to replicate, iSuppli said.

“While some of these suppliers reported that their facilities were undamaged, delivery of components from all of these companies is likely to be impacted at least to some degree by logistical issues now plaguing most Japanese industries in the quake zone,” it added.

Also under threat are supplies of the iPad 2’s memory chips, made in Japan by Toshiba and Elpida Memory respectively. Similar technology is available from other suppliers such as Samsung, in South Korea, however.

The potential shortages come as Apple prepares to launch the upgraded device outside the United States, where the first batch of around 500,000 iPad 2s sold out in just a few days earlier this month. It is due in British shops next Friday, 25 March.

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