Techies dissect Apple's iPhone
While most iPhone owners couldn't wait to try out their pricey new gadgets, a few raced to break them apart.
The dismantled— and in some cases, permanently busted— iPhones revealed one of Apple Inc.'s closely guarded secrets: The names of the companies that supplied the chips and other electronic components for the highly anticipated device.
The findings sent all but a few of the component makers' stocks higher Monday, the first day of trading since the iPhone— a combination cellphone, music player and wireless web browsing device— went on sale in the U.S. Friday evening for as much as $600 US a pop.
The parts makers stand to profit handsomely if the iPhone proves popular over time. Apple itself has set a target of selling 10 million units worldwide by 2008, gaining roughly aone per cent share of the cellphone market.
The phone was sold out in most Apple and AT&T stores by Monday afternoon, said AT&T spokesman Michael Coe. He declined to release specific sales figures.
Coe added that most of the activation problems that surfaced over the weekend had been resolved.
Some iPhone buyers had trouble switching over to AT&T from their previous wireless carrier, delays that AT&T blamed on overloaded servers, a problem with the company's credit authorization system and problems transferring customers' business accounts to consumer accounts.
"The issue is essentially behind us now," he said.
But as that problem passed, another glitch emerged. Some iPhone users in western and Midwestern states were unable to get onto the internet for several hours Monday because of outages on AT&T's EDGE network that were eventually fixed, Coe said. AT&T said it had not determined what caused the outages but was certain it wasn't because of an influx of iPhone users.
What's in the iPhone
Despite the problems, investors flocked to the iPhone's newly unmasked parts makers.
Among the beneficiaries of Apple's business and the tear-down buzz were semiconductor heavyweights Intel Corp., Broadcom Corp., Texas Instruments Inc. and Infineon Technologies AG as well as lesser-known companies such as Skyworks Solutions Inc. and Linear Technology Corp.
Some researchers said Apple's secrecy surrounding the iPhone's component suppliers is yet another example of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's vaunted ability to keep their partners tightlipped even when facing a media frenzy and rampant speculation.
"They're very good at it— and I think they make a point of holding their suppliers to a standard of secrecy, or you could lose the next round if you slip up," said Howard Curtis, vice-president of global services for Portelligent, a research company.
Much like the examinations of other much-hyped gadgets, the deconstruction of the iPhone was a mad dash to be the first to post online, with minute-by-minute updates on websites and the occasional howls of researchers who wound up destroying their iPhones.
Those that released detailed descriptions of the iPhone's innards included sites such as ThinkSecret.com and iFixit.com as well as research companies Portelligent and Semiconductor Insights. Several analysts also published the results of their own tear-downs.
Based on the results, here's a breakdown of some of the parts identified in the iPhone:
- South Korean chip maker Samsung Electronics Co. is making the main microprocessor used to run the phone's operating system and various applications. Samsung, the world's largest memory chip manufacturer, is also making a type of memory called NAND flash for the iPhone.
- Santa Clara-based Intel, the world's largest semiconductor company, is supplying another form of memory, called NOR flash, according to various research firms.
- Irvine-based Broadcom Corp.is making a controller chip believed to be used for managing the touch-screen display.
- Texas Instruments is supplying a power-management chip.
- German chip maker Infineon Technologies makes parts that handle cellular communications for the iPhone.
- Woburn, Mass.-based Skyworks Solutions Inc. was revealed as the supplier of a power amplifier used in the iPhone.
- Milpitas-based Linear Technology Corp.was identified as the maker of the iPhone's battery charger chip.
- Cambridge Silicon Radio Ltd. out of Englandis responsible for making chips that allow Bluetooth wireless connectivity for the iPhone.
- Santa Clara-based Marvell Technology Group Ltd. is providing chips that allow the iPhone to connect over Wi-Fi networks,
- Santa Clara-based National Semiconductor Corp. ismaking a display chip for the iPhone.