14 January 2013Wall Street Journal:
Apple’s orders for iPhone 5 screens for the January-March quarter, for example, have dropped to roughly half of what the company had previously planned to order, the people said.
The Journal uses this evidence to suggest that Apple is adjusting orders down due to weaker demand for iPhones. Traditionally, the Journal has a very good hit rate for Apple rumours. However, unlike gossip about future product features (which are likely to be controlled leaks originating from Apple itself), this article is obviously sourced from components suppliers. Therefore, I don’t think it should be held to the same level of reliability.
However, assuming it is true, the story is that Apple cut iPhone screen orders. The inference from the sources is that this means sales of iPhones is lower than expected. However, as pointed out in this article in the Guardian, it could simply be a matter of reallocation. If the downscaling is occurring at just one supplier, it is very possible that somewhere else1 is having a burst of new orders. There are probably a million other innocent explanations in the same vein.
Poor sales of iPhone 5’s would account for lower component orders, obviously, but by no means is it the only explanation. Given the statements from Verizon and recent market share estimates from analysts, it seems very unlikely to be the reality.
1 In the same article, Horace Dediu notes the rumoured Sharp investment as a possibility.