Reports emerged Thursday that Apple scrapped a whole batch of Apple Watches after finding a fault with the watch's vibrating 'Taptic Engine'.
According to the Wall Street Journal, "people familiar with the matter" said that after mass production began in February, "reliability testing revealed that some Taptic Engines supplied by AAC Technologies Holdings Inc., of Shenzhen, China, started to break down over time."
A large number of completed watches were discarded as a result.
Scrapping finished products is especially unwelcome in high tech manufacturing. It exposes a deep problem in both the supply chain and also the manufacturing process itself.
Apple is currently facing stock shortages of the watch, although it seems as if a recall will be unnecessary as the report suggests there has been no indication that Tim Cook's gang shipped any watches with the defective part to customers.
Apple used two supplier of the Taptic Engines and those provided by the second supplier, Japan's Nidec Corp., continue to function without any problems, according to the report. "Apple has moved nearly all of its production of the component to Nidec [...] but it may take time for Nidec to increase its production."
The defective Taptic Engines are not the only hardware issue to have arisen in regards to the smartwatch. iFixit's teardown showed that the watch was, unlike most watches, likely to be obsolete within ten years and had no room for upgrades.
In addition it is shipping with a pulse sensor which does not work with tattoos, a major design oversight given their increasing popularity.
The issues with the watch have led Apple to consider adding a second assembler of the Watch, to supplement Taiwan's Quanta Computer Inc. Foxconn, the main assembler of the iPhone, recently started tests to see if it could handle production of the small device.
"Even if the process goes smoothly, it may take several months for factories to be running at full capacity. Foxconn isn’t expected to start manufacturing the Watch until late 2015 at the earliest," the source said.
The revelations will no doubt anger Apple, which has a notoriously tough policy on those who speak to the press. Apple goes to great lengths to control its message and news of failures and issues are the opposite of what it wants the world's press to report. The fact reports are emerging could suggest the problems run much deeper than we know at the present time.
Time will tell, no pun intended.