Another Report of Delays in Shipping Apple iPhone 8

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Earlier this week we noted a story from DigiTimes suggesting that shipments may be delayed several weeks for the new iPhone everyone expects to launch in September. Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White reinforced that view in a note Friday morning.

White is currently on a swing through Taiwan talking to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) suppliers, according to reports from Barron’s and MacRumors, and is hearing from sources that delays are likely because of “challenges around the 3D sensing technology.” DigiTimes had reported difficulties in manufacturing the curved glass OLED display screens.

MacRumors cites White’s research note:

This is not the first time that we’ve heard about a potential delay with a new iPhone; however, our contact was so emphatic about the delay that we are taking this data point more seriously. Since it is only April, this situation could improve. Essentially, our contact believes customers will be able to pre-order the new 5.8-inch iPhone 8 along with the new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones in September; however, the 5.8-inch iPhone 8 will not be available for delivery until several weeks later.

How big a deal is it for iPhone users to have to wait a few weeks to get a new model? Probably not very big, particularly because the new top-of-the-line iPhone 8 (or whatever Apple decides to call it) isn’t going to get much pressure from the new Samsung Galaxy 8 and 8+ phones. Barron’s cites White’s note:

The buzz in Taiwan is around the iPhone 8 and not the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+. In fact, we found no enthusiasm at all around the new Samsung devices during our trip, nor concerns from competitors.

The new iPhone is also sucking the air out of the market for less costly phones built in China, according to White:

Our meeting with a component vendor highlighted expectations for slower growth in the China smartphone market in 2017. For example, certain branded customers are adjusting forecasts lower in 1Q:17. Trends in emerging markets are expected to remain healthy with double-digit growth this year. The big new features for smartphones this year will be dual cameras and AR/VR features.

The takeaway appears to be that Apple can afford to be late with shipments as long as the new iPhones are in customers’ hands in time for the holiday season. Bungling that is about the only thing the company could do to foul up what is likely to be Apple’s biggest holiday quarter ever.

Apple traded up about 0.1% just before the noon hour Friday, at $143.85 in a 52-week range of $89.47 to $145.46. The stock’s consensus price target is $147.00.