Apple's Mac shortage is a big red flag for enterprise IT

Apple’s supply and logistics problems reflect a wider set of challenges as enterprise and education upgrade season begins.

Apple, Mac, CoVID, PC, Windows, Logistics, China

Enterprise purchasers should expect to become frustrated when purchasing new hardware in the coming months, as supply chain logistics continue to deteriorate. When it comes to Apple kit, you may have the budget, but Macs are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Constraint is not better than constrained

Apple recently announced record-breaking second fiscal quarter revenue of $97.3 billion, but warned supply-chain challenges could cost the company $4 billion to $8 billion in future quarters.

“Right now, our main focus is on the supply side,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“For Q2…, we had constraints, but they were significantly lower and driven by industry wide chip shortages. Looking ahead, there are two causes of constraints: Covid disruptions and silicon shortages. These (COVID-19 lockdown) constraints are primarily around the Shanghai corridor… almost all of the affected factories have now restarted. We’re encouraged that the COVID case count in Shanghai has decreased over the last few days.”

Since then, we’ve heard continued reports of shutdowns and even riots across Chinese consumer electronic manufacturing. Workers are understandably frustrated and unhappy at being locked inside their factories for weeks on end, rather than seeing friends of family. Apple supplier Pegatron cut production at its Shanghai factory this week, reports South China Morning Post. This, plus the war in Ukraine, means Apple’s feeling a squeeze at both sides — supply is constrained by manufacturing and logistical problems while demand is being affected by war and on-going COVID-19 lockdowns.

And Apple isn't alone.

Short supply, strong demand

Right, it's an important story, but what has this to do with enterprise purchasing patterns?

It is manifesting as a shortage of hardware.

Shortages are being reported across the Apple’s distribution chain, particularly around Macs. Macworld reports just three Macs are immediately available in the US at this time — all older M1 models, the 13-in. MacBook Pro, Mac mini and iMac 24. Others show delays of two weeks or more, topping out at two months for the M1 Ultra Mac Studio.

Supply chain experts began warning this was coming weeks ago as China’s Shanghai entered its extensive COVID-19 shutdown. Delays in manufacturing continue to hit the logistics and distribution system. In Shanghai, hundreds of cargo vessels are backed up as they wait on delivery, and this is creating shortages across the tech and consumer electronics supply chain.

This bottleneck is exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, while increasing inflation continues to damage consumer confidence.

Danger signs

This is the perfect storm within which this year’s enterprise and education purchasing cycle is taking place. It’s a scenario that suggests tech purchasers will be facing unanticipated headwinds as they seek to fulfil larger procurements, and this challenge seems set to be a multiplatform one.

After all, while focus is understandably on the world’s most valuable company, when it comes to enterprise use, Macs are far from dominant, despite becoming increasingly popular, driven by BYOD, employee choice, an expanding support ecosystem, and a growing story around ROI.

Other PC makers, including No. 1 Dell and Lenovo are also affected, which becomes increasingly acute as millions of old legacy Windows devices finally expire.

Within a wider context of accelerating cyberattacks, it mattes that Statcounter shows around one in every 200 PCS  actively used today still run Windows XP.

Given some of these are likely used in backroom roles at some larger enterprises, security chiefs will really want to expedite upgrades, particularly in the current climate. We all know Apple and its iPads have benefitted from the last few upgrade cycles. But we don’t need any more ransomware sneaking into corporate systems via the creaking XP system used somewhere at any company.

Bottom line? Buy now, if you can

If you’re in the education or enterprise sectors, other than holding back on purchasing pending potential introduction of new Mac models at WWDC 2022, you may want to expedite your tech purchasing decisions to gain some chance of fulfilling your order this side of summer.

Getting on that calendar matters, particularly in the education sector. Any school admin knows that getting hardware in early is critical if you’re going to successfully manage the annual mass deployment as the new school intake arrives in fall. These impacts will continue to create all kinds of ripples, and it’s going to be the IT purchasing teams that need to figure the growing confutation of challenges out. Good luck with that.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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