Apple shifts iPad touch panel orders from TPK to Wintek. Order delays?

There have been rumours of supply chain issues limiting the number of iPads available for launch for a while. We reported on those initial rumours, and also the suspected reasons behind the limit of 2 iPads per individual earlier this month. We’ve also reported on how iPad sales are going very well indeed in the US prior to the iPad’s domestic launch. Heightening the fear that perhaps countries other than the US might have to wait longer for their iPads. Or even that supplies may be limited in the US initially too!

Last week we touched on the number of iPads Apple appears to hope to ship in the future. Apple purportedly has deals with both Samsung and LG, and figures leaked from those contracts gives us an idea that Apple plan on producing a total of 13 million iPads over the next few years.

Apparently Taiwanese manufacturer “TPK Touch Solutions” has not been able to keep up with Apple’s aggressive demands for projected capacitive touch panels used in iPads. This has potentially caused a delay or shortfall in the number of shipping units. Whether this will affect launch numbers or not significantly we don’t know. We would expect that launch stocks of iPads are complete and en-route to Apple supply chains daily at the moment. We have barely a week to go before customers expect to get their hands on them.

WinTek, which previously focussed on small to medium sized LCD panels, has now tooled up for touch panel production too. They recently announced plans to setup a manufacturing plant in Dongguan, southern China. At the moment they are evaluating plans to expand the capacity there for front-end touch panel production.

“Although Wintek’s current capacity is enough to meet current demand, the company still has decided to expand its touch panel capacity as it is optimistic about growth for the segment in the future”, the company said. This ties up with Apple’s aggressive plans for the number of iPads it plans to ship in the future.

This news today about TPK could all be a storm in a tea cup, and more related to future production. But Apple changing suppliers at this late stage is a little concerning for future iPad supplies, and perhaps the production quality of the most important component in the device as production lines shift and gear up.

We have two different companies making screens, and now a change of touch panel manufacturer. Perhaps Apple is a bit of a victim of the iPad’s apparent runaway success!

Are you nervous about getting your iPad on time?

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Stephen NorthcottApple shifts iPad touch panel orders from TPK to Wintek. Order delays?