Child Labor Watch points toward initial low-cost iPhone production at Pegatron factory

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 10:14
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the iPhone, but at a lower cost…and plasticky.

Per AppleInsider and China Labor Watch, a new plastic iPhone is currently being tested Apple supplier Pegatron, and will soon go into mass production and hit the market, one factory worker claims.

Details of Apple’s anticipated low-cost iPhone were revealed in a report published by China Labor Watch on Monday. A section of the report details “A day in Pegatron,” with a worker detailing their activities on July 9.

On that day, the worker’s job was “to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines.” The worker revealed that the plastic iPhone will “soon be released on the market by Apple.”

“The new cell phone has not yet been put into mass production, so quantity is not as important,” the worker wrote. “This makes our job more slow paced than in departments that have begun mass production schedules.”

In addition, China Labor Watch’s company profile notes that Pegatron is responsible for building “low-priced plastic iPhones” for Apple, in addition to the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.

The report accuses Pegatron of violating labor regulations in China, as well as international labor laws and Apple’s own standards. Specifically, Pegatron is said to have work weeks that exceed Apple’s 60-hour limit, while some employees have allegedly had their pay withheld for working short shifts.

The details also come as an image published over the weekend claimed to show the retail packaging for a product called the “iPhone 5C.” Some have speculated that the “C,” if the name is accurate, could refer to “color,” as the device is expected to come in a range of colors.

Well-connected insider Ming-Chi Kuo revealed last week that Apple is on track to launch its so-called “iPhone Lite” in early September. The device is expected to be essentially a slightly thicker iPhone 5 with a plastic body.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple exec Bob Mansfield switched to “special projects” team, wearable technology rumors gain strength

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 06:48
Category: News

Apple is assigning Bob Mansfield to a “special projects” team.

Not bad for a guy who looks like a middle school football coach.

Per The Mac Observer and AllThingsD, Bob Mansfield quietly disappeared from Apple’s executive team webpage on Sunday and the company said it’s because he’ll be working on “special projects” instead. Mr. Mansfield had been serving as the company’s Senior Vice President of Technologies, but now it looks like he may be throwing his weight behind secret new products.


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Mr. Mansfield took on the role of Senior VP of Tech in August 2012 after leaving, and then returning to, Apple. At the time he committed to stay with the company for two more years. Now, only a year later, his job seems to be changing significantly.

In a statement to AllThingsD, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said, “Bob is no longer going to be on Apple’s executive team, but will remain at Apple working on special projects reporting to Tim,” meaning company CEO Tim Cook.

Mr. Mansfield retired from Apple in June 2012 with the title Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering and was replaced by then Vice President of iPad Hardware Engineering Dan Ricco. Two months later, Apple announced that Mr. Mansfield was staying after all and would be in charge of the semiconductor and wireless technology teams.

Following Mr. Mansfield’s change of heart, Apple announced that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall was leaving the company. Rumors had been circulating that the two men routinely clashed and that Mr. Mansfield was swayed to stay once he knew Mr. Forestall was out the door.

Saying Mr. Mansfield will be reporting directly to Tim Cook on special projects has a familiar ring to it because that’s exactly what the company said when it hired Yves St Laurent’s Paul Deneve in July of this year. With Mr. Mansfield taking on the same mysterious roll, it looks like Apple is putting together a top-notch team to work on secret projects — and it’s easy to assume that “secret” really means “wearable technology.”

Reports have already claimed Mr. Mansfield had been focusing on wearable tech, and Mr. Deneve has some serious experience in the high-end fashion world. He also has a history with Apple because he was also the company’s senior marketing and sales manager in Europe during the 1990s.

Assuming the two men are working together, Apple has the beginnings of a crack team that could come up with some amazing products, which is exactly what the company needs if it wants to disrupt the wearable tech market much like it did with the portable media player, smartphone, and tablet markets.

Apple isn’t saying what projects Mr. Mansfield or Mr. Deneve are working on, but if it is wearable tech-related, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing more than just a high tech watch that talks with our iPhones coming out of Cupertino.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Beijing-area scalpers buying up Genius Bar appointments, selling them online

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 06:28
Category: News, retail

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If you’re planning on traveling to China in the near term, you might want to be aware of this.

Per the Beijing Morning News, Beijing ticket scalpers have found a new way to make money on Apple: booking up all available Genius Bar appointments and then offering them for sale online.

Ticket scalpers usually make their money by buying large quantities of event tickets as soon as they go on sale, and then illegally selling them for more than face value once the event is sold-out. With Genius Bar appointments, they don’t even need to fork out cash in the first place: just use a bunch of email addresses to make the appointments, then advertise them online.

Appointments sell for 10- yuan (US$1.60-US6.40) in a country where the average monthly salary is equivalent to US$580. A Beijing Morning News reporter found there were no appointments available on the Apple site for iPhone, iPad or iPod. They contacted one of the advertisers asking for an appointment the next day, and were offered a choice of two local stores and two time slots. The reporter was sent login details for the booking by instant messenger, and was then able to access the booking on the Apple site to change the details to their own.

The reporter contacted Apple for comment, and had not received a reply at the time of writing.

If you’ve been traveling and noticed anything similar to this, please let us know in the comments.

Purported “iPhone Lite” case video surfaces

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 26th, 2013, 09:56
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The rumors never really stop and if there’s video to go with them, even better.

Per MacRumors, a recent posting of the purported “iPhone Lite”/”iPhone Plastic” has surfaced wherein Michael Kukielka shows off what he claims is the actual shell for the low-cost iPhone and places it next to several previous iPhone models, revealing that the budget phone may have roughly the same dimensions as the current iPhone 5.

The shell Kukielka handles in the video is white, although we’ve previously covered another rumor that alleges the phones will come in a variety of colors, including navy blue, gold, gray, pink, green, blue, yellow, and orange. It’s also slightly thicker than the existing iPhone 5 shell, well in line with supposedly leaked designs that suggest the dimensions sit at around 8.5 mm thick, 124.4 mm tall, and 59.2 mm wide.

The long-rumored low-cost iPhone is said to be primarily intended for countries overseas, such as India, where Apple’s popular smartphone has yet to secure as steady of a foothold as devices carrying Google’s rival Android system. The unit is expected to sell for around US$300-US$500, and MacRumors relates that carrier subsidies could bring that price down to around US$99 where such subsidies are offered.

And now, for your consideration, the video in all its glory:



As always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Mac mini ship times slip to 5-7 days, near-term Haswell refresh possible?

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Date: Friday, July 26th, 2013, 06:04
Category: Mac mini, retail, Rumor

When the ship times vary, a new product refresh could be around the corner.

Per MacRumors, Mac mini ship times on many Apple Online Stores have slipped to 5-7 business days.

This flies in the face of ship times for all the other Macs, as the other units on the online store have shipping estimates of “within 24 hours”. That said, most Apple Retail Stores do show availability for the mini, as does Amazon.com.

Apple sometimes does have temporary product shortages of computers mid-cycle, but they can also portend intentional drawdowns of stock ahead of a product refresh. The Mac mini is a candidate for an upgrade to Haswell processors, and it is coming due for a possible update in the near future.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Haswell-powered Retina Display MacBook Pro could be delayed until October

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Date: Friday, July 26th, 2013, 06:56
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

That new Retina Display MacBook Pro with the Hasell processor you’re craving could be arriving a bit later than you’d like.

Per the China Times and Macotakara, the new MacBook Pros equipped with Retina displays won’t ship until October, well after the June debut of Haswell-powered MacBook Airs.

That rumored date is later than well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities expects the new MacBook Pros to be introduced. He said in a published note that he expects MacBook Pros with Haswell to debut in mid-September.

Apple is said to have experienced continued yield problems with the high-resolution Retina display in its notebooks. That’s led to apparent internal delays, despite the fact that benchmarks for both the 13-inch and 15-inch models have appeared online.

Prices for high-resolution LCD panels, as well as solid-state drives, have dropped in recent months. But the price of DRAM is also rising, which is why sources believe the new MacBook Pros will be sold at the same price point as the current models.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro, in particular, is said to be even thinner than the current Retina display model. Kuo also expects the portable Macs to include 1080p “full HD” FaceTime cameras.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases sixth OS X 10.8.5 build to developer community

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Date: Thursday, July 25th, 2013, 11:59
Category: News, Software

They’re getting closer to OS X 10.8.5.

Per MacNN, Apple has again made available a new beta of the forthcoming OS X 10.8.5 for developers to test. Like last week, the new version (12F26) is just three build numbers higher than the previous one, suggesting that the company is nearing the end of testing.

As with last week’s build, there are no known issues — however, due to the prolonged downtime of Apple’s Developer Center, download options to obtain the latest build are limited. Those who are running previous builds can obtain the new one through the Software Update mechanism, and AppleSeed members can also download it. However, the download page through the Dev Center continues to be closed.

The latest update also comes with a new build of Safari. Apple is still asking developers to continue testing components like graphics, Wi-Fi, wake-from-sleep functions, mobile device management, and PDF viewing and accessibility.

If you’ve tried the new build and have any feedback to offer, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple advises Chinese customers to avoid counterfeits, opt for genuine Apple products after charger-related incidents

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 25th, 2013, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, News

applelogo_silver

Sometimes it’s best to stick with the genuine article.

After a pair of iPhone-related electrocutions in China allegedly caused by unauthorized third-party chargers, Apple has added a section to its Chinese website helping users identify official iOS device chargers as well as advised users to charge its devices with genuine Apple chargers according to CNET.

The page offers a look at official charger designs for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPad with Retina display, and iPad 2.

The website notes that Apple “always” puts the safety of its users first, and that products are “subject to stringent safety and reliability testing.” The official chargers that come packaged with new iPhones and iPads are also designed to meet government safety standards from around the world.

The site comes after a pair of dangerous charger-related incidents occurred in China this month. In the more serious example, a woman died while using an iPhone 5 that was plugged into the wall to charge with a non-Apple adapter.

In the second incident, a man ended up in a coma after he was accidentally electrocuted using a third-party charger with his iPhone 4. It was said that the man was using a “counterfeit” adapter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Q3 2013 numbers, cites $35.3 billion in revenue, $6.9 billion profit

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 06:17
Category: Finance, News, retail

applelogo_silver

There wasn’t massive growth, but the numbers were still good.

Per Macworld, Apple reported sales of US$35.3 billion, with net profit at US$6.9 billion for its third fiscal quarter. That translated to earnings of US$7.47 per diluted share. Apple’s revenue marked a record for the June quarter, ticking up 1 percent from the $35 billion Apple posted in last year’s third quarter. Still, profits fell 22 percent year-over-year, down from US$8.88 billion in 2012. Apple also reported a drop in profit during its fiscal second quarter of 2013.

With a tiny increase in revenue but a drop in profit, you’d rightly conclude that Apple’s gross margin dropped: For the quarter, it was 36.9 percent, versus 42.8 percent on the year-ago quarter. That’s because Apple’s most popular products now have lower margins than the top-sellers a year ago.

The company also says it has issued US$18.8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

While Apple generally keeps a tight lid on future product announcement, company officials did reiterate a point made during its second-quarter earnings announcement in April—that the company plans to roll out new products starting this fall and into the next year. “We are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products,” CEO Tim Cook said in an statement accompanying Apple’s earnings announcement.”

Apple says it sold 32.2 million iPhones—a record for the June quarter. That’s up from 26 million iPhones in the year-ago period. For the U.S., iPhone sales rose 51 percent year-over-year, Apple says.

The picture was less rosy for iPad sales, but Apple has a perfectly reasonable explanation for the 14 percent drop in tablet sales from last year’s third quarter. A year ago, Apple introduced the third-generation iPad and enjoyed a full quarter’s worth of sales to the tune of 17 million units. This quarter, sales fell to 14.6 million iPads.

Still, Apple has plenty of reason to remain bullish on the iPad. Company chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said that the iPad ranked tops in a 2013 U.S. tablet satisfaction survey by JD Power and Associates. And during the quarter, the company inked a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the U.S., to roll out iPads to 640,000 students.

In fact, the iPad got the bulk of the credit for a strong quarter of sales to U.S. schools. According to Oppenheimer, the last three months generated the highest quarterly revenue ever for Apple’s U.S. education institution business.

Mac sales also fell in the quarter, down 7 percent from last year to 3.8 million units. Still, Oppenheimer pointed out that the 3.8 million Macs sold beat Apple’s own expectations. And Apple’s sales still were ahead of the total PC market, which saw sales contract by 11 percent according to estimates from research firm IDC. By Apple’s math, the Mac gained market share during the quarter.

The Mac was one of the few product lines to see any changes during the quarter, with Apple updating its MacBook Air lineup at the beginning of June by adding new Intel processors. Company executives had little to say about any impact those new laptops had on overall Mac sales, but Oppenheimer did call it the most successful MacBook Air launch to date, adding that customer response was great.

But during the call, executives implied that there were better things to come. Oppenheimer noted that June’s Worldwide Developers Conference included previews of both the Mac Pro and the next version of OS X, code-named Mavericks.

The iTunes Stores—which includes the App Store, Mac App Store, iBookstore, and the music, movies, and TV sections of iTunes—generated $4.3 billion in billings, Oppenheimer said, culminating in the best week and best month ever for App Store. That translated to quarterly revenue of US$2.4 billion, up 29 percent year over year. Total quarterly revenue from iTunes, software, and services generated US$4 billion in revenue.

Oppenheimer said that Apple now has over 320 million iCloud accounts, and 240 million Game Center accounts.

As for brick-and-mortar retail efforts, the Apple Store saw revenue of US$4.1 billion for the quarter, virtually unchanged from the year-ago quarter. Oppenheimer reported that Apple saw 16,000 visitors per store each week.

For the quarter, Apple had an average of 405 stores, with average revenue per store at US$10.1 million, down US$1 million from the year-ago quarter. Apple opened six stores across five countries during the quarter, giving it 408 stores around the globe; 156 of those outlets are outside the U.S.

The company plans to open nine new stores during the September quarter, giving it 27 new openings during the 2013 fiscal year. It’s not just about new stores, however: Apple says that it relocated four of its stores to more appealing spots; it will complete 23 such relocations before the end 2013 fiscal year in September.

Where stockholders are concerned, the company’s Board of Directors has announced another cash dividend, this one at US$3.05 per share of common stock, payable on August 15 to any shareholder as of August 12.

For the next quarter, Apple is predicting revenue between US$34 billion and US$37 billion, with gross margins between 36 and 37 percent. That sales figure would put Apple’s performance in line with the US$36 billion in revenue it reported in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the coming quarter, Apple also predicts operating expenses will be between US$3.9 billion and US$3.95 billion, with a tax rate of 26.5 percent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst sees late September launch date for iPhone 5S, earlier launch dates for next-gen iPads, Haswell-based Retina Display MacBook Pro

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013, 06:06
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

The guesses as to when the next-gen iOS devices are out.

Per AppleInsider, according to a research note obtained by the web site, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S” is seeing setbacks in the production of “numerous components,” as well as handset assembly, meaning the next-gen smartphone will be available in limited amounts following a late September launch.

“While shipments forecasts may still grow sharply in 4Q13, we are concerned iPhone 5S may face the same problem as its predecessor, namely that by the time supply matures, demand will already have waned, hurting shipments,” Kuo writes.

The analyst also sees shipments of the much-rumored low-cost iPhone being below expectations, though the device will be available sooner than the iPhone 5S due to a less complicated manufacturing process. Kuo sees the model being priced at US$450 to US$550, with shipments capped at 26 million units for 2013. Market consensus had shipments at 30 to 40 million units.

As for Apple’s tablet plans, Kuo notes a redesigned 9.7-inch version will be the “highlight of iPad in 2013,” as no new iPad mini model is set for release this year. The analyst says Apple is unlikely to debut an anticipated Retina display version of the 7.9-inch tablet with A7 SoC this year. Due to higher energy demands attached to the Retina panel, as well as the components required to improve power efficiency in such a small form factor, Apple will likely shoot for a launch in March or April 2014.

Interestingly, Kuo points to a possible cheaper iPad mini running a legacy A5 processor. That device could still see release by the end of 2013, December at the earliest, but given the model is unlikely to see a substantial price cut compared to the current iPad mini, Apple will most likely debut the tablet next year.

Finally, the Mac lineup will see continued upgrades to Intel’s Haswell silicon in the coming months. Apple’s Retina display MacBook Pro is looking at a mid-September refresh, while the iMac will get the chips in late August.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.