From AirPods to the HomePod, Apple in recent memory has been plagued by a number of uncharacteristic product delays. Indeed, because Apple has a long history of only announcing products when they’re essentially ready to ship, the company has, more often than not, been able to avoid pesky and frustrating product delays that often leave consumers disappointed.
Taking a closer look at the issue, The Wall Street Journal observes that product delays are fast becoming more of a rule than an exception for Apple. Going back to the beginning of Tim Cook’s tenure as CEO, the Journal observes that product delays have increased markedly.
“Of the 70-plus new and updated products launched during Mr. Cook’s tenure,” the Journal notes, “five had a delay between announcement and shipping of three months or more and nine had delays of between one and three months. Roughly the same number of products were launched during Mr. Jobs’ reign, but only one product was delayed by more than three months and seven took between one and three months to ship after the initial announcement, according to the Journal’s calculations.”
And while some of Apple’s product delays are easy to brush off as insignificant — such as the relatively minor delay that impacted the initial launch of Apple’s AirPods — more recent examples are harder to ignore. Take the HomePod, for example. Originally scheduled to launch in December of 2017, the launch has since been pushed back to early 2018. In turn, Apple missed out on the busy holiday shopping season and, as a result, likely ceded a lot of power in the smart speaker market to rivals like Google and Amazon.
All that said, it’s perhaps important not to read too much into Apple’s recent product delays. After all, Apple’s most important product — the iPhone — tends to ship on time each and every year. And though the iPhone X launched in November and not alongside the company’s iPhone 8 models, Apple did manage to ramp up production much quicker than many analysts initially anticipated.
It’s also worth noting that Apple’s product line under Tim Cook is far more expansive than what we saw during the Steve Jobs era. What’s more, Apple’s overall user base is significantly larger today than at any other point in history.
Under Mr. Cook, who oversaw manufacturing and operations before becoming CEO, Apple’s product portfolio has more than doubled since 2007, and now includes eight iPhones, four iPads, a dozen Macs, two smartwatches, two TV-streaming devices and an array of accessories.
Apple’s large and global customer base also add to logistical and manufacturing challenges, former employees said. The company now has an estimated 1.1 billion devices in use world-wide, about triple the 400 million in early 2013, according to market-research outfit Asymco.
Looking ahead, one can only hope that Apple, at the very least, gets a handle on production delays or, perhaps more simply, refrains from announcing shipping dates too far off in advance.