HOW and WHY things work!

July 9, 2010

The Art of the Teardown...

Miss Peach by Mell Lazarus (2/17/1974)


As a child I spent a lot of time taking things apart. My parents were relieved when a Miss Peach cartoon identified my behavior as explorative engineering rather than plain old fashioned destroying things. I was reminded of this again by the rash of recent blogs/articles by companies such as UBM Techinsights and Chipworks that estimate the cost of the iPhone 4 and similar devices-du-jour through teardowns. An excellent blog post last week by Steve Cheney recalled for me there’s a lot more to the story than simply documenting the bills of material (BOM) and estimating component costs.

Yes, it is interesting to know that the 16 GB iPhone 4 costs Apple approximately $188 in material and that you can buy one from AT&T (with a 2 year contract) for about the same price ($199). However, as a consumer, knowing this is simply “academic” since I can’t use this data to change the outcome: I either buy the phone or I don’t. Is there more to the story? Is there any real commercial value to a teardown?
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