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Prolific Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo departs KGI Securities, likely to focus on companies other than Apple

One of the biggest sources of supply chain-based pre-release Apple hardware information has departed his position of nearly six and a half years. Ming-Chi Kuo, top Apple analyst at KGI Securities, left the company last Friday, April 27th, according to a report by the China Times via Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

KGI is Taiwan’s second-largest securities firm, and is set to mark its 30th year in business later this September. Kuo, who is easily the firm’s most recognizable analyst by name, previously worked at Taiwanese news company Digitimes. Now he appears to be largely moving on from reporting about Apple.

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KGI: Dual-lens camera to remain exclusive to high-end new iPhone models in 2017, small upgrades expected

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KGI Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, citing investor reaction to Apple’s new dual camera feature, is predicting that the module will remain exclusive to high-end iPhone models for next year’s anniversary release. Further, he expects high end iPhone Plus models to represent 30-40% of the total iPhone sales.

The investor note, which makes reference to a general belief that all the new iPhone models will come with a dual-camera module in 2017 as a trickle-down effect, places doubt on the possibility of the dual camera being adopted in non-Plus iPhones.



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KGI: iPhone 6s Plus constraints due to display production issues

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While the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s on some U.S. carriers is still available for delivery on the September 25th launch date, nearly all of the larger, 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus models are now scheduled to deliver in 3-4 weeks for new orders. According to KGI Securities, this is not entirely due to high demand for the largest iPhone model. According to a new note from the firm, the constraints are actually due to supply problems with the 6s Plus’s backlight hardware:



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KGI: Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro to feature optional Force Touch compatible stylus, 2015 shipments in the 4-5.5M range

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According to respected and generally reliable analyst Ming Chi-Kuo from KGI Securities, Apple’s long-awaited 12.9-inch iPad Pro will feature Force Touch stylus support—perhaps for something like an enhanced Pencil from Paper’s FiftyThree. Earlier this month, we detailed what to expect from Force Touch on iOS including support for an enhanced stylus paired with the larger iPad models.

He expects the larger tablet to go in to production between September and October and that the stylus will be able to take advantage of the new iPad’s Force Touch-enabled screen. It’s being imagined as a feature which could help users more easily navigate the larger display of the iPad Pro. KGI has predicted an optional Lightning-charging stylus sold alongside the larger-screened iPad since earlier this year.



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KGI: Apple to upgrade Touch ID sensor in next iPhone, expects over a quarter of a billion units in 2015

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KGI is out with a new report today predicting both a large rise in the number of Touch ID sensors shipped this year as well as an improved version of the biometric security reader for the next version of the iPhone. “We raise our 2015F shipments of Touch ID (fingerprint recognition) module by 12.4% to 262mn sets, up 77% YoY.” As for the updated Touch ID sensor, the improved version is believed to offer more reliable reads and better security as Apple continues to push Apple Pay, it’s recently launched mobile payment service:

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WWDC 2013: Slimmer Retina MacBook Pro w/1080P camera and MacBook Air microphone improvements expected

specs_camera_2xIn a report this morning, one of the better Apple analysts, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities listed his forecast for MacBook Pro and Air updates expected at WWDC. Apple’s annual developer-centric conference begins on June 10th with a keynote. The biggest change is Apple will move to Intel’s Haswell processors. These chips dramatically reduce power consumption, which in turn could allow Apple to need fewer batteries in the Retina MacBook Pros:

We expect the new MacBook, featuring an upgrade to Intel’s (US) Haswell processor, will be in the spotlight for Apple at the upcoming WWDC from June 10. Along with the new processor, we expect the following modifications to each product line:

Retina MacBook Pro to be slimmer slightly, along with a camera upgrade. We expect the 13” Retina MacBook Pro will have a slightly slimmer form factor for increasing its portability. Also, we think the camera spec will be upgraded from HD to full HD. This will improve Facetime and video conference quality in the high resolution Retina display.

The 1080P camera would match the capabilities of the rear-cameras in recent iOS hardware, but this would represent the first time in which Apple shipped a 1080p-capable front-facing sensor.

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If Apple does choose to keep the same batteries and size of the Retina MacBook Pro, the new Haswell chips could push battery life up over 10 hours – an outcome I’d personally prefer. Additionally, how can you make the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro any thinner?

It is so thin that the ports+ fan outlets barely fit now. It would also be an uncharacteristically short sub-1-year duration for the current design.

As for the MacBook Air, at least one improvement is expected by Kuo:

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More reports claim next iPhone to include fingerprint tech, could lead to launch delays

Fingerprint-scannerBrian White, Topeka Capital’s Apple analyst that previously gave some quite out there predictions for an Apple TV with “iRing”, today is saying that his recent checks with suppliers in Asia indicate Apple will include fingerprint sensor tech in the next iPhone. For what it’s worth, White says it could be the flagship feature of the 5S like Siri was with iPhone 4S. That’s something we predicted earlier in our “S” iPhone piece (via BusinessInsider):

White says, “we believe fingerprint identification technology will be part of the iPhone 5S and this is likely to be the major new feature used to market the iPhone 5S, similar to what Siri was to the iPhone 4S.”

I know… It’s a rumor that we’ve heard many times before, but now another analyst that often has accurate information is saying that same fingerprint tech could be the source of delays for the next-gen iPhone.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has changed his previous predictions regarding product launches for iPhone, iPad, iPod citing a number of challenges with suppliers and the development of new features including the implementation of fingerprint technology in iPhone (via MacRumors):

Earlier we estimated that shipments of the new iPhone would begin in July (FDD version) and September (TDD version), while iPad mini 2 would hit the market in August. Currently, market consensus for shipments of iPhone 5S, low-cost iPhone and iPad mini 2 is July, July, and August, respectively. But in light of publicly available information and our knowledge of technological trends, we now think all three products will begin shipments later than our previous expectation and market consensus.

While Kuo, who previously laid out his roadmap for 2013, doesn’t provide new estimates for when the devices might ship, he does say that apple is facing challenges with finding the right color coatings that work with the fingerprint sensor rumored to be included in the next iPhone, and “technical challenges” related to the manufacturing of a Retina display for a second generation iPad mini. Needlessly to say we’ll be checking back in this summer to see how accurate these analysts reports have been.

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Apple to drop 17-inch MacBooks, slim down iPhone w/ in-cell?

You can read into these reports from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities as much as you want. Kuo claimed this morning that Apple is about to axe the 17-inch MacBook Pro line entirely while introducing a rumored all new MacBook design by Q3 2012 (via MacRumors). Kuo also alleged Apple will adopt in-cell display technology to help slim down the next-generation iPhone by up to 1.4mm to under 8mm. IHS told Wired earlier about the advantages of in-cell displays:

“The advantage of in-cell is that you’re streamlining the manufacturing process, so in time you should be able to drive efficiencies and reduce cost.” IHS analyst Rhoda Alexander told Wired. “Additionally, by reducing the number of layers, you reduce the size and thickness of the device, making it thinner and lighter.”

According to the report, Kuo said in-cell would provide a reduction of approximately 0.5mm, while other reductions could come from the battery and a thinner metal casing on the back.

Since Apple’s smartphone competitors have generally slimmed down their high-end offerings to 7-8mm, Apple needs to make a leap forward from 4S’ 9.3mm thickness. We believe Apple will aim at 8mm or below (at least 1.4mm slimmer) for iPhone 5, in a bid to ensure brisk sales through 2014, while peers will also continue to introduce increasingly slim models next year… As such, all iPhone 4S components that account for thickness must be slimmer, specifically, touch panel, battery and casing. Moreover, a marginal amount of space is required between the three parts for the sakes of assembly tolerance and thermal expansion of components.