Will iPhone production be affected by a recent Taiwan earthquake? The simple answer? No.
Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC),one of the world’s largest chipmakers and one of Apple’s
chief suppliers for processors built into its mobile devices, was recently affected by the Feb. 6, 6.4-magnitude that struck southern Taiwan. While the company said at the time that only a small portion of its business was affected, Digitimes, a site that follows processor production facilities, reported on Monday that TSMC
could take longer to get on its feet than expected. Subsequent reports have thus suggested that iPhone production could slow in the process.
The reality, however, appears to be much different.
Digitimes claims that on Friday, Taiwan Semiconductor said that damage to one of its production facilities, Fab 14, was worse than originally claimed. The report then followed by saying—correctly—that TSMC has not modified its guidance on first-quarter revenue. The earthquake’s financial impact, in other words, is nominal, at best.
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TSMC issued a statement on the Feb. 6 earthquake, which is said to have killed over 100 people, saying that chip Fabs 14 and 6 sustained some damage. However, the company was quick to note that the earthquake “did not cause any serious personnel injuries nor any structural or facility damage.” What’s more, none of the company’s equipment shifted during the quake. While the company said it needed to assess chip wafer damage, it did not “expect the earthquake to affect first quarter 2016 wafer shipment by more than 1 percent.”
Since then, TSMC has issued one alert to investors: A report that its revenue in January hit NT$70.9 billion (about $2.1 billion). That was up over 21% compared to December, but down nearly 19% compared to January 2015. It has not said anything more on its investors page about the earthquake.
So, how does Apple come into play? Several reports that followed Digitimes noted that TSMC is among just two vendors producing the A9 processors in Apple’s iPhone 6s line. Samsung, the company’s chief rival in the mobile market, is the other.
For more, read: Here’s How to Get Half Off the iPhone 6s
Meanwhile, a report last week from The Electronic Times cited sources who claimed TSMC would be the only company to produce the chip built into Apple’s long-rumored iPhone 7. That chip, believed to be known as the A10, won’t go into full production until June, according to that report. Neither Apple nor TSMC have independently confirmed that report.
Ultimately, the concern over TSMC, the Taiwan earthquake, and how it affects Apple appears to be little more than hysteria. TSMC acknowledged earlier this month that it was affected by the earthquake, the company has not changed its anticipated revenue range for the first quarter, despite the damage, and iPhone 7 chip production won’t even begin for several months. It’s notable that the company’s investors page is also quiet about the earthquake.
At least right now, iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 production seem safe. And all of the speculation over TSMC not fulfilling orders or being the bottleneck that delays the iPhone 7 seems unfounded.
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Neither Apple nor TSMC immediately responded to a request for comment.