iSuppli: iPad 2 shortages may become worse due to Japan quake

With supplies of the iPad 2 already tight, the ongoing disaster in Japan could make things even worse according to a prominent research firm. IHS iSuppli -- most known for its teardown analyses -- said it had identified at least five parts in the tablet device that are manufactured in the country.

So far the company has identified NAND flash chips from Toshiba, DRAM chips produced by Elpida Memory, an electronic compass from AKM Semiconductor, touchscreen glass overlay believed to be from Asahi Glass, and the system battery produced by Apple Japan.

iSuppli said it was possible that more parts within the iPad may have come from Japanese manufacturing plants, however it could not indentify the origin of all components within the device.


Toshiba and Elpida's parts could potentially be outsourced to other manufacturing partners, and Apple could depend on plants elsewhere to produce the battery. However AKM's compass would be hard to replace, and at least three of Asahi's plants are believed to be damaged as a result of the quake.

It is unclear when companies may be able to resume production. In the case of semiconductors, plants will automatically shut down after earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or greater on the Richter scale. With quakes of such intensity still happening daily a week after the quake, it is unclear when these production lines will be able to be restarted.

A host of other problems plague iPad component suppliers, including rolling blackouts and/or power failures, damage to plants and equipment, employee absences, and damaged infrastructure making travel to work difficult.

Japan's recent natural disaster -- one of the worst in recent memory -- could not have come at a worse time for Cupertino. Already struggling to meet the extraordinary demand the iPad 2 has generated in just its first week alone, it could take much longer than first expected for Apple to sufficiently supply its vendors.

Whether or not this could open up the door to its competitors is not known: they are likely also feeling the pitch of tighter component supplies as well.

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