In a report published Friday, the research outfit said recent channel checks suggest that Apple has dialed back iPhone 5c production by 35 percent, while increasing iPhone 5s production by 75 percent. NPD attributes the 5c production cuts to demand weakened by the device’s higher-than-expected price. “Rumors about iPhone 5c being ‘cheap’ were circulating as early as Q3 2012,” NPD analysts Tina Teng and Shawn Lee theorize. “The fact that the iPhone 5c is nearly identical to the iPhone 5 — and is not cheap — disappointed some consumers.”
Perhaps. That’s certainly an easy explanation for such production cuts following a nine-million-new-iPhones-sold opening weekend. But easy explanations aren’t always accurate, and as similarly pessimistic reports about iPhone 5 demand last year proved, supply chain production volume rumors sometimes aren’t the best information on which to gauge iPhone sales. Things can go from “FLASH: Apple has cut orders for iPhone components due to weaker-than-expected demand!” to “My bad! Apple actually sold 47.8 million iPhones this quarter” pretty quickly.
As Apple CEO Tim Cook said in January, “I’d recommend questioning the accuracy of any kind of rumor about build plans. I’d also stress that even if a particular data point were to be factual it would be impossible to interpret what it really means to our business. Our supply chain is very complex and we have multiple sources for our components. Yields can vary, supplier performance can vary. There’s just a long list of things that would make any single data point not a great proxy for what’s going on.”
Apple reports fourth-quarter earnings on Monday, October 28. The company did not respond to a request for comment.