Apple Watch rollout slowed by a defective component

29 Apr 2015

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A serious flaw was found in one of the Apple Watch’s key components just prior to the device’s launch, prompting the company to scrap completed units.

That’s according to a report published by the The Wall Street Journal which claims the defect has slowed down the highly-anticipated hardware’s rollout.

Since officially releasing the Apple Watch on 24 April, Apple has seemingly been struggling to ship the number of devices that have been pre-ordered. Statistics published earlier this week by online commerce market research firm Slice Intelligence revealed that only 22pc of already-purchased watches were dispatched in the US on launch weekend. Estimated shipping dates currently range from a couple of weeks to months.

The component in question is what Apple calls the ‘taptic engine’, a mechanism designed to produce the sensation of being tapped on the wrist. Wall Street Journal sources say that reliability testing on the Apple Watch caused some taptic engines supplied by Chinese firm AAC Technologies Holdings Inc to break down over time.

As the consumer tech giant did not experience the same problem with taptic engines produced by a second supplier, Nidec Corp, it has now shifted nearly all of its production of the component to the Japanese firm. How long it will take to make-up the deficit, however, is unclear.

“Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on available supply and the order in which they were received,” Apple told the newspaper. “We know many customers are still facing long lead times and we appreciate their patience.”

The Apple Watch, Apple’s first all-new category of hardware since the release of the iPad in 2010, is available in two sizes (38mm and 42mm) and across three editions: Apple Watch Sport (US$349 to US$399), Apple Watch (US$599 to US$1,099), and from US$10,000 for the Apple Watch Edition.

Just this week the company posted record second quarter financial results. Sales of the Apple Watch did not come into play in the quarter, though early signs are promising, with reports suggesting the company could sell up to 20m units within the first year.

Apple Watch Sport image via Shutterstock

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Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com