Technology

What's Up With Apple: Production Delays, Find My App and More

The worldwide chip shortage has begun to have an effect on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). Delays in the production of MacBook computers and iPads already have pushed out orders for other components into the second half of the year, when the company hopes chip deliveries will increase.

According to a report Thursday morning from Nikkei Asia, mounting components on MacBook printed circuit boards has been delayed due to the chip shortage, and some iPad assembly has been “postponed” thanks to a shortage of displays and display components.

The good news for Apple is that production of the company’s cash cow, the iPhone, so far has not been affected although sources told Nikkei that the supply of some components is “quite tight.” So far, however, the supply chain problems appear to be a problem for Apple, not its customers according to Nikkei: “Overall, the component shortage remains a supply chain issue for Apple and has not yet had an impact on product availability for consumers ….”

Other makers of consumer products, like Dell, HP and Samsung, also have been affected by the chip shortage, and it could worsen through the end of the June quarter. And computing devices have taken a backseat to automobiles, as Nikkei notes:

[T]he U.S., Japan and Germany have asked Taiwan and South Korea, the two key chip manufacturing economies, to help prioritize chips for the automotive industry, which is crucial to the world economy. This has further squeezed production of semiconductors for consumer electronics and computer products.

As we have noted before, Apple is expected to release its Air Tags (small, coin-sized devices that help locate lost stuff like keys) real soon now. Even so, the company on Wednesday announced that it is opening its Find My network program that allows third-party device trackers like Tile to be used with the Find My app.

Among the first device trackers to use the Find My network is the Chipolo One that uses the iPhone’s Bluetooth to let people track whatever device the Chipolo One fob is attached to. Instead of using its own app to track your keys or bicycles or earbuds or whatever, the Chipolo One fob will be able to use the iPhone’s Find My app directly.

Apple is opening its Find My network before it launches its own Air Tags product because the Air Tags use a different communications protocol called U1 Ultra-Wideband (UWB for short) that has a wider range than Bluetooth and can provide more detailed data about the location of lost stuff. Currently, the iPhone 11 and 12 are equipped with the UWB capability, so opening the Find My network to other developers ensures that device trackers are available to Apple’s mobile devices that run compatible operating systems.

Finally, Apple apparently has begun construction on a second Apple Store in what used to be East Berlin. Apple opened its one and only Berlin store in 2013 on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm, the main commercial thoroughfare in what had been West Berlin. According to MacRumors, “The construction site is close to the Spree river, within walking distance of Alexanderplatz, and was recently covered in the kind of black wood paneling that Apple has used before.” That black wood is always a tip-off.