Shares of the Taiwanese manufacturing company Quanta Computer rose quickly today on reports that it had landed a contract to produce five million second-generation iPhones, with production to start in September of this year. The news broke early in the morning in Taiwan's Chinese-language newspapers, the Commercial Times and the Economic Daily News.
However, Quanta quickly issued a statement in which it refused to comment on the reports, and by the end of the day, the company's stock price settled for just a small increase.
In a statement responding to the iPhone rumor, Quanta officials said, "It is important for the Company to gain new business to sustain growth and development." However, the statement continued, as a matter of "general business conduct, the Company will not comment on specific customer, order or any types of confidential information."
The brief statment concluded with a simple, but generic summation: "All business remains solid and strong as planned."
Relatively little-known in the U.S., Quanta is the world's largest manufacturer of laptop computers, producing roughly one-third of the world's laptops for a long list of business partners including Dell, Hewlett Packard, Compaq, and Apple. The fact that Quanta already has a relationship with Apple to manufacture laptops lent credence to the financial newspaper reports.
The events in Taiwan's financial markets today underscore the intense interest in Apple's iPhone, now just three weeks or so from its scheduled release. Both consumers and investors are scouring news outlets for the latest clues regarding the phone's release and Apple's future plans for it.
Nor is this the first time that a company's stock has suffered from iPhone-itis. Just last week, a false report on the tech blog Engadget saying that delivery of the iPhone would be delayed sent shares of Apple itself tumbling, although they also largely recovered by the end of the day.
'Different Outer Design' = 3G?
The sources cited by the Commercial Times reported that the iPhone allegedly ordered from Quanta "will be similar in function to those from Foxconn but with a different outer design to fit different markets."
The most obvious "different" markets are Europe and Asia, where the iPhone is not scheduled for release until fourth quarter 2007. For more than a year, there has been rampant speculation about when Apple would release a version of its new iPhone that can handle 3G traffic -- 3G being the format for high-speed mobile networks deployed throughout Europe and Asia.
The rumor blog AppleInsider, for instance, reported in February that there were indications that Apple might have a 3G-iPhone available as soon as January 2008. Hence the interest in reports of a possible new manufacturing deal in Taiwan.
Whether merely fortuitous or diabolically clever, the pre-release publicity campaign for the Apple iPhone is a textbook example of how to keep a world of high-tech consumers hot and bothered.