Apple to cash on watch, says IHS
In comparison, estimated hardware cost to MSRP ratios for other Apple products reviewed by IHS are in the range of 29 to 38 percent.
The teardown of the Apple Watch Sport 38mm shows a bill of materials of USD81.20 with the cost of production rising to USD83.70 when the USD2.50 manufacturing expense is added, for a retail price of USD349.00. The IHS Technology analysis does not include logistics, amortized capital expenses, overhead, SG&A, R&D, software, IP licensing and other variables throughout the supply chain such as the EMS provider.
“It is fairly typical for a first-generation product rollout to have a higher retail price versus hardware cost,” says Kevin Keller, senior principal analyst-materials and cost benchmarking services for IHS Technology. “While retail prices always tend to decrease over time, the ratio for the Apple Watch is lower than what we saw for the iPhone 6 Plus and other new Apple products, and could be of great benefit to Apple’s bottom line if sales match the interest the Apple Watch has generated.”
The preliminary results of the teardown do not show any big surprises in the IC content; all of the manufacturers identified so far were expected. The Apple Watch NAND memory is a Toshiba Flash 8GB and DRAM is a Micron SDRAM 512MB. Broadcom, STMicro, Maxim, Analog Devices and NXP are used for connectivity and interface. One noteworthy change is a shift from Invensense to STMicro for the accelerometer/gyroscope.
“The display is LG’s plastic OLED display and the touchscreen overlay module is a TPK Slim GG utilizing their ‘Force Touch’ technology,” Keller said. “Force Touch was recently incorporated into the latest MacBook and is expected to be found in the next iPhone generation.”
The fabrication of the enclosure continues the Apple "Unibody" tradition of precision machining from a single block of aluminium. Apple is now extending this design philosophy into a highly miniaturized realm, mating the legacy of precision watchmaking with Apple’s specialized manufacturing practices.
”The encapsulation of the entire printed circuit board assembly into a single monolithic module is especially noteworthy,” Keller said. “Whereas many products might have some form of semi-flexible encapsulant applied to the board for protection, shock and vibration purposes, Apple has effectively created one large IC out of the entire assembly. This encapsulation is done by encasing the board in the same plastic/epoxy material used for conventional ICs. Indeed, many of the devices found inside the assembly are already encapsulated, effectively creating an IC-within-an-IC affair.
“To provide electromagnetic shielding, the encapsulated PCB assembly is further treated with a metalized coating deposited over the surface,” Keller added. “This shielding process is used in place of conventional stamped sheet metal shielding, saving a significant amount of space, as well as cutting down slightly on weight.”
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