A Slow Roll for iPhones and Major League Soccer Plans

The Daily Observation Deck Feature

iPhone 14 Pro production and procurement, a major Major League Soccer announcement, and another Apple store moves towards union.

The State of iPhone 14 Pro Production

Jefferies Group Gloomy on iPhone Near Term, Positive on Apple

The course may not be smooth, but Jefferies Group analyst Kyle McNealy is staying it. Apple 3.0 ran part of a note, wherein he lowered his expectations for iPhone this quarter, because — d’uh, but stuck with his rating on Apple shares and his price target. 

While many have been pleased to point out that the problem with the Pro end of the iPhone 14 line is a supply issue, not a demand issue, Mr. McNealy goes one further — it’s a “labor and operations” issue, not a components issue. ‘Cause remember when that was the problem? I guess the thinking is, once Foxconn has enough people to crank out phones again, no more holdups for the high-end of the iPhone 14 line.

A Patriotic Call for Production

As for getting more people, call in the troops! Or, former troops. AppleInsider highlights a report from the South China Morning Post that says China’s “Veteran Affairs Bureau has posted an open letter to retired People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel” in the vicinity of Foxconn’s iPhone plant in Zhengzhou. That’s the one that’s spent the last month wrestling with a COVID outbreak and COVID fears that have driven employees away from the factory. Now, the piece says, officials in the county where the factory is situated:

…are asking ex-PLA people to “answer the government’s call,” and “take part in the resumption of production” at Foxconn Zhengzhou. The open letter calls on their history of service and asks that they “show up where there’s a need.”

Local officials are also recruiting civilians from surrounding towns, according to the report. The thing about recruiting though — it takes time. And training takes time. That time is costing Apple money, and costing would-be buyers their phones. 

Missing Christmas (and How to Not)

If you’re hoping to have an iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max for someone for Christmas, you may want to start looking now. A piece from The Mac Observer says it is likely too late to order one from Apple and have it in hand by 24 December. According to the site, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are now showing delivery estimates beginning 27 December. Of course, they wrote that Wednesday. Checking in the wee small hours of Thursday morning, delivery is now showing 28 December. 

Of course, Apple’s not your only option for getting Apple’s latest and greatest. TMO says Best Buy has them available well before Christmas. Again, checking last night, a Best Buy near me had iPhone 14 Pros I could pick up today — even that cool, Deep Purple. They all seem to be carrier locked, though. A number of Target stores in my area claimed to have limited stock as well, though the stock was so limited, they said you had to visit the store to find out more. Point is, there may be other places to get the device besides Apple so… you know… poke around and find out.

Sorry if that sounded dirty.

Apple’s Bag of Tricks

Checking in again with our friend from Jefferies Group, despite the device’s hit-or-miss availability, Mr. McNealy says the lack of ready availability for iPhone 14 Pro models is costing Apple. Assuming “3 weeks of full lockdown and a ramp back up,” McNealy says, “the impact would translate to 3-5m [Pro phones missed this quarter], $3.2bn-$5.3bn in revenue, and $0.04-$0.06 in EPS.”

But — you know… Apple is magic. The way the analyst sees it, there are things Apple can do to soften the blow (despite the Zhengzhou plant accounting for 85% of iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max production in his estimation). Tricks he sees up Apple’s sleeve include:

  1. maximize output at the Shenzhen site in Guangdong which is tooled for iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models
  2. extend 24-hour operations for a longer peak season and increase output in December
  3. pay bigger incentives for overtime and new workers
  4. stagger vacations to achieve continual operations with more workers.

And I don’t think he’s even heard about the army.

Maybe it’s those tricks. Maybe it’s a belief that folks waiting for the iPhone they want will keep waiting for the iPhone they want. Whatever the case, McNealy’s standing pat on Apple. He maintains a “Buy” rating on the company’s shares and a price target of $195. 

Apple and MLS Announce Terms of MLS ‘Season Pass’

We’ve got details on Apple’s Major League Soccer plans. The Cupertino-company and MLS announced terms of their season pass offering on Wednesday. This is the one that Apple says will make every match available “on billions of devices through the Apple TV app on Apple devices, smart TVs, streaming devices, set-top boxes, and game consoles, and the web at tv.apple.com.” 

Taking a “first one’s free approach,” the press release says every match held opening weekend will be available to watch for free on the Apple TV app. That weekend will include a home opener at the Rose Bowl Stadium between the LA Galaxy and the 2022 MLS Cup champions Los Angeles FC. Opening weekend hits 25 February, though folks who know that soccer’s their jam don’t have to wait quite that long to subscribe. People who want to subscribe will be able to do so beginning 1 February. Apple TV+ subscribers can sign up for $12.99-per-month or $79-per-season. For non-Apple TV+ people, the price will be $14.99-per-month or $99-per-season.

Updates and Changes from Apple

tvOS 16.1.1 Fixes ‘Storage Full’ Glitch

Remember that problem with Apple TVs that thought they were only half their size? That’s all better, it seems. I told you yesterday of a problem where at least some 128GB models of the latest Apple TV thought they only had 64GB of storage. Though there was still plenty of room, when the units hit their imagined limit, they instructed users to either delete apps before they could download more, or manage their storage in Settings.

All better. A piece from MacRumors says Apple on Wednesday released tvOS 16.1.1. Indications in the piece are this fixed that.

New Builds for the Public Testing Crew

As day follows night, so public betas follow developer betas. I told you yesterday that Apple had released betas for almost all of its operating systems to developers on Tuesday. It followed that by releasing some to public testers on Wednesday. A piece from MacRumors says Apple gave the public testing peeps access to the third betas of iOS and iPadOS 16.2 on Wednesday, while another piece from the same site says they also got access to a third beta of macOS Venture 13.1.

iOS/iPadOS 16.2 Machines Get ‘Rapid Security Response’ Update

Apple has issued a security update that may not have updated anything. “Rapid Security Response” is a new feature coming to iOS and iPadOS. It’s the one that’ll let Apple issue security patches for people who opt-in without having to perform an OS update or restart. A piece from 9to5Mac says the third betas of iOS and iPadOS 16.2 got security updates on Wednesday, though the site’s not sure they actually did. The way the nine-to-fivers see it:

It’s (…) possible that there is no actual security fix. The update could be a test to demonstrate Apple’s Rapid Security Response system. 

Why do they think that? Because while the update “is marked clearly as a security-specific fix,” the piece says there’s no security information around it. 

Who knows? Maybe that’s part of the rapid part. Time will tell.

[Editor’s Note: Reports have recently surfaced stating the Rapid Security Response is just a test of the delivery system and doesn’t contain any actual security fixes.]

Apple Store in Saint Louis Seeks Unionization Vote

Another Apple retail location in the states has filed to hold a union vote. 9to5Mac says the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) “has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a vote on unionization.” According to the IAM site, the organization seeks to represent “approximately 82 Apple store employees in St. Louis” in their bid to unionize. It could be one of two stores, according to the report. According to 9to5Mac, the press release did not make clear whether the store in question is Apple Saint Louis Galleria or the city’s other store, Apple West County Center.

Apple Releases ‘Emancipation’ Trailer Ahead of Early December Release

And finally today, with just a few weeks left until its premier, The Mac Observer says Apple TV+ has released a trailer for the Antoine Fuqua/Will Smith historical drama Emancipation. Not surprisingly, it looks brutal. I can’t imagine you’ve forgotten, but just in case, the film — set during the Civil War and based on a true story — follows Peter, a runaway enslaved person in search of his family. Eventually, TMO says:

…Peter joins the Union Army. During a routine medical examination, doctors discover scars on Peter’s back, brought about by plantation owners. [The] newspaper The Independent took photographs of the scars and printed them, making it one of the first times the cruelty of slavery was truly brought to the public eye.

A heavy topic, and a long road for the film. When Apple would release it seemed up in the air for a while after Will Smith walked on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock during this year’s live Academy Awards telecast. But release it they will, and soon. The film gets a limited theatrical run beginning Friday, Dec. 2. It starts streaming one week later — Friday, Dec. Between now and then, you can catch the trailer now on YouTube.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

When is old content new again? When Apple TV+ uses it to generate buzz. TMO writer Nick deCourville joins me to talk the Cupertino-streamer’s stealth programming plan. Also, TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts walks us through the Emergency SOS via satellite demo on iPhone 14.  That’s all today on The Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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