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Apple's iPhone maker Foxconn can't make the devices fast enough

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September 17, 2014

It looks like Apple fans that wish to buy the new iPhone 6 may have to wait a while longer to get their hands on the devices as Apple's subcontractor Foxconn struggles badly to ramp up its production, says the Wall Street Journal.

Overall demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have Foxconn's factory workers in high gear, working 24x7 to get the units out as quickly as possible.

The iPhone 6 seems to be running into the same old story-- not enough supply to meet demand.

In an effort to ease the problem, Foxconn has brought more factory workers on board to make the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus at its plant in Zhengzhou, China.

But the complexities of manufacturing both phones appear to be taking their toll, the Wall Street Journal said today, citing the usual "people familiar with the matter."

More than 200,000 Foxconn workers are stationed at the Zhengzhou factory with the sole job of assembling the new iPhones and some of its key components.

The plant is also running 100 production lines 24 hours a day to keep up with demand for the popular phones. So what exactly is the issue?

Foxconn is the only supplier manufacturing the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus and is responsible for most of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 units, the Journal's sources said. With larger screens and other enhancements, the two new phones also represent a dramatic shift from last year's models.

As such, most of the burden and work is on Foxconn's shoulders. That contrasts with Foxconn's obligation last year when it initially made only the iPhone 5S and just a small number of iPhone 5C units before it eventually dropped the 5C altogether.

Another issue reportedly rests with a few manufacturing flaws in the production output. The percentage of successful iPhone 6 Plus units assembled is only around 50 percent to 60 percent, a person at a display component supplier told the Journal.

That means that Foxconn has to throw out the units that don't meet quality standards. The iPhone 6 fares better with a successful production rate of more than 85 percent.

"We have been outputting about 140,000 iPhone 6 Plus and 400,000 iPhone 6 every day for the past several weeks, the highest daily output ever, but the volume is still not enough to meet the huge demand," a person familiar with the matter told the Journal.

"For the iPhone 6 Plus, we are still ramping up the production lines. Another reason for the limited supply is the shortage of 5.5-inch displays," the source said.

Until Foxconn can greatly improve its production to inch closer to the demand, iPhone buyers will have to wait a while longer.

Among the new models, the iPhone 6 Plus is facing longer delays for those who preorder in advance of actual sales that officially kick off on Friday.

Apple's website shows the wait time for the iPhone 6 at about seven to ten business days and the wait time for the iPhone 6 Plus at three to four weeks.

We contacted Apple for comment and will update the story with any further details once we get them.

If you can't afford the rather expensive off-contract price for Apple's new iPhone 6, T-Mobile is aiming to make it easier for you to pay it off.

To be sure, when users choose one of T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans, they can get the 16 GB iPhone 6 for $0 down and 24 equal monthly payments of $27.08.

The 16GB iPhone 6 Plus also has $0 down and can be paid off in 24 equal monthly payments of $31.24. The total cost is equivalent to an off-contract phone, which is $650 for the iPhone 6 and $750 for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Like other wireless carriers, T-Mobile will begin selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on September 19 and will be offering the smartphones for preorder online beginning tomorrow morning.

T-Mobile has been promoting itself as the first U.S. carrier to support the use of Wi-Fi calling with the new iPhones.

The wireless provider hosted an event on Wednesday dubbed "Uncarrier 7.0," where it announced a program called "Wi-Fi Un-leashed" to let more customers make calls and exchange text messages over a Wi-Fi network.

Apple unveiled both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on Tuesday. The iPhone 6 is equipped with a 4.7-inch Retina display, while the larger iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch Retina display.

In addition to being slimmer and lighter, both models also include an improved camera, graphics, and battery life.

"Apple has done it again, and this fall is going to be one of the biggest upgrade cycles this industry has ever seen," T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a statement. "At T-Mobile, we're all about helping you get your hands on the latest mobile devices."

In other mobile news

Travis Kalanick, the CEO of controversial taxi ride-sharing service Uber, said it's not the company's fault that everyone has an issue with his company.

Kalanick says the service is just misunderstood by most people. "When users start to perceive you as the big guy, you're not allowed to be scrappy fierce," he said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco today.

What Kalanick describes as "scrappy" is the company's history of aggressive expansion tactics. The on-demand car service, which lets users order a car through a smartphone app, is constantly the enter of a lot of controversy, but it's most recent claim to fame is public mud-slinging with its archrival competitor Lyft.

The two companies repeatedly accused each other of purposely clogging up their networks by ordering and canceling thousands of rides.

Additionally, Uber has admitted to having overly aggressive driver recruiting tactics in the past.

To be clear, Uber has long been a thorn in the side of the taxi industry. Launching with a black car service in 2010, Uber expanded to offering many types of on-demand services, including taxis and UberX, its peer-to-peer service that rivals Lyft.

Often criticized for extreme price gouging, in some cases charging hundreds of dollars for a single ride, Uber has still managed to grow swiftly, reaching 200 cities worldwide in August.

Kalanick added he's receiving a lot of bad press tis year because people simply don't understand where he comes from.

Kalanick started his first company, a networking software company in 2001, and didn't make a salary for four years.

"I don't want to say destitute, but you don't have anything going on, you don't have a lot of money," he said.

That isn't an issue for Uber. The company recently raised an additional $350 million in funding, giving it an incredible valuation of $3.5 billion.

Kalanick tried to stay away from the idea that Uber is "the man," with a lot of money. Instead, he returned to a familiar message-- his David and Goliath story with the taxi industry playing the giant.

The company, which recently hired former White House strategist David Plouffe to spearhead its political agenda, is gearing up for a larger fight with legislators over car-sharing service regulations.

In the United States, there are several markets still dominated by the taxi industry. Now Uber wants to get into it at any cost, and has said so repeatedly in the past few months.

"The true nature of this business is that it's so disruptive, so insanely disruptive that we've got a lot of incumbents and a lot of people to sway from the other side," he said.

In other mobile news

Microsoft this morning has announced its new flagship Nokia phone, the Lumia 830, as well as updates to the company's latest mobile operating system.

The Lumia 830 comes with a rear-facing 10-megapixel PureView camera, a 5-inch ClearBlack IPS-LCD and a 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor.

The phone also features a 2200 mAh removable battery and 16 GB of internal storage.

Microsoft is also throwing in up to 15 GB of free storage on OneDrive. The Lumia 830, which is very close to the Lumia Icon that sells for $499 off contract at Verizon Wireless, will come in green, orange, grey and white.

The new Lumia 830 will ship for $430 off contract. Microsoft also took the wraps off its latest update to its Windows 8.1 OS, which is now dubbed Denim.

The new software expands the company's Cortana virtual assistant to more markets. It also includes updates that will allow users to store their tiles in folders, and a new security feature for when the phone is connected to public WiFi hotspots, a constant and ever-growing threat to user security and peace of mind.

According to IDC's most recent numbers, Microsoft shipped 7.4 million Windows phones in the second quarter, accounting for about 2.5 percent of the global smartphone market.

That was down from 8.2 million in the same quarter last year, when Windows accounted for 3.4 percent of the global smartphone market.

In other mobile news

Open WebOS, the open-source mobile operating system of the former Hewlett-Packard and current LG platform, is rebranding itself.

OpenWebOS is now called LuneOS, the team behind the platform announced today. The full name was previously "WebOS Ports Open webOS" -- something that the group behind the mobile operating system said, "wasn't very catchy, and for the most part, very confusing."

OpenWebOS was an offshoot of WebOS, the mobile operating system initially developed by Palm and transferred to HP when that company acquired Palm in 2011.

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Although both HP and Palm attempted to get WebOS off the ground, both companies failed, and HP eventually open-sourced the operating system.

It was at that point that the team behind Open WebOS got to work on developing an alternative mobile operating system.

It was also after that that LG acquired the rights to WebOS. The company is currently exploring its usage in television sets and other consumer electronics devices.

With LuneOS comes some improvements to the platform. The first release is being called "Affogato" and its stability has been improved for use on smartphones and tablets.

The group behind LuneOS says that while its platform can work on the Google Nexus 4 and HP TouchPad, as well as the Galaxy Nexus and 2012 Nexus 7, its goal is to make it easy to port to other devices as well.

"Overall, our main focus is not to add new devices as they appear on the market but instead to provide a stable, easy to use and easy to port software base," the group said.

It's also worth noting that LuneOS isn't designed to take on iOS and Android. Indeed, the backers say that they're "not trying to reach feature comparison with Android or iOS."

Looking ahead, the team behind LuneOS is hoping to improve the project and bring more people into the fold. The group said that it's "small" and working on "a large project."

"We have a lot of parts on the service side in place but the app user's interfaces need a lot of work from creative people," the group wrote in an announcement on Monday.

"If you like webOS, know how to develop on the web and enjoy working with an enthusiastic team on a new community built mobile operating system, don't hesitate to contact us through the available communication channels."

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Source: The Wall Street Journal.

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