April 1 - Production for the new iPhones with larger screens will start as early as May, say sources. Apple's enlarging the screen size to catch up with Samsung. Fred Katayama reports.
This spring time means bigger screen time for Apple. Supply chain sources say Apple's suppliers will start mass producing new larger screens for the next iPhone as early as May. They say Apple will first launch production of the 4.7-inch screen for the iPhone 6, then follow up with the more difficult 5.5-inch version several months later. Current iPhones feature 4-inch screens. Apple is said to be enlarging the screen size to catch up with Samsung, whose big screen "phablets" have helped it leapfrog Apple in market share. iPhones are crucial to Apple's success because they generate more than half of its revenue. ISI analyst Brian Marshall said, "The lack of a large-screen iPhone has been perhaps Apple's biggest product miscue in recent years ... 'Large screen envy' is prevalent among the iPhone installed base, and we believe a 5-inch form factor iPhone would spark a massive upgrade cycle." And he says it could get defectors to return to the iPhone. Sources say Asian suppliers will make the screens, including Sharp, Japan Display, and LG Display. Apple's stock is down 4 percent this year. Bernstein Research says that historically, investors who buy the stock two months ahead of an expected iPhone announcement and sell when it's announced gain an average of 11 percent.