Apple may trim its iPhone build orders for the rest of 2013, at least according to a new report from analyst Peter Misek.
In an investors note released Sunday, Misek said Apple has already revised its build plans. iPhone orders for the calendar third quarter will be cut to 25 million to 30 million from 40 million to 45 million previously. And orders for the fourth quarter will drop to 50 million to 55 million from 60 million to 65 million.
Why the downturn? The analyst cited a few reasons, mostly notably iPhone inventory checks at the stores of three vendors in the U.K.
"We had recently noted that smartphone inventory levels at retail and carriers were elevated but were unsure which OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) were most exposed," Misek said. "Our survey of several hundred Orange, Vodafone, and EE stores in the U.K. indicates that inventories are elevated for iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy 3."
Certain Apple suppliers are also seeing a drop in sales or orders, Misek added.
Manufacturing company Jabil, which makes components for the iPhone 5, recently reported a weak quarter for its Apple-oriented operations. Suppliers of memory modules have also started to shift third-quarter orders away from Apple and toward other "emerging" companies.
"Our checks also indicate that Apple's wafer starts at Samsung's Austin fab have likely been cut," the analyst added.
Misek's analysis is based on inventory checks and other data from a limited but noteworthy number of Apple vendors and suppliers. The report didn't point to any inventory levels outside the U.K., but the analyst clearly sees this as a global problem for Apple.
Misek also cut his forecast for iPhone sales to 27 million from 30 million for the third quarter and to 45 million from 50 million for the fourth quarter.
Looking ahead, the analyst believes Apple will likely launch the iPhone 5S and a low-cost iPhone in September, followed by a Retina iPad Mini in the fourth quarter. An iPhone 6 sporting a 5-inch screen may be on the agenda for next year.
Misek also had a mixed reaction to the beta of iOS 7.
"We think the new user interface's cleaner look is a big improvement," the analyst said. "While iOS upgrades will be possible on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, our experience was quite poor (admittedly it is a beta) as the OS puts too much of a strain on the processor. We speculate that iOS 7 could also be an attempt by Apple to spur upgrades."
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