Apple Quietly Shuffling Component Sources

In multiple reports today, Apple appears to be quietly adjusting product component sources and plans to cope with the March 11 earthquake disaster in Japan.

First, according to eWeek, Apple has shifted the SSD in the MacBook Air from a (Japanese) Toshiba TS128C SSD to a part labelled SM128C from Samsung in Korea — without much fanfare.  According to performance tests cited, the Samsung part provides a considerable speed boost. This slipstream upgrade by Apple will be welcomed by customers, especially since the MacBook Air remains saddled with the less capable Core 2 Duo processor.

In another report, Softpedia is reporting that Apple is investigating the use of the OmniVision 12.6 megapixel camera, which can record 1080p video, for the iPhone 5. Recent reports have cited Sony’s CEO Howard Stringer as suggesting that Sony would supply Apple with an 8 megapixel camera, but the March 11 earthquake in Japan may have delayed delivery. Currently, Apple uses OmniVision components for its iPhone 4 camera, and OmniVision would surely like to keep Apple’s business. Even though sources say production can start in June, it remains unclear whether this camera can be ready for the iPhone 5.

Finally, according to AppleInsider, Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with Concord Securities claims to have have some knowledge of the details of the iPhone 5 components and that it will include the powerful dual-core A5 processor found in the iPad 2. Apple has been hard-pressed to deliver all the iPad 2s that customers are clamoring for.

All in all, tidbits of information here and there are accumulating to suggest that Apple is adjusting its suppliers due to earthquake-induced component shortages and that, even though the company has made no announcements, the iPhone 5 launch could be forced from its typical June-July launch to later in the year.

That could end up being good timing for Apple because it allows Verizon iPhone owners more time to revel in their iPhone 4s and it also gives Apple and developers more time to prepare iOS 5 and apps for the iPhone 5.