Apple Corporate May Be a Few Degrees from Freezing

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It’s said to be freezing at Apple Corporate, interesting 5G news for Apple, and the Mac shines in a lack luster quarter. 

Business Insider: Secret Sources Say Apple in Virtual Hiring Freeze

Apple’s pace of hiring has slowed to a trickle — that is the word from Business Insider (via Apple News+). It’s kind of not news, in a way. “Since the summer,” the report says:

…Apple has touted its “deliberate” decisions about investment and hiring, including on its most recent quarterly earnings call last week. But three sources with close knowledge of conversations at the company told Insider it has paused almost all hiring.

One source says Apple has designated “no budget” for new hires in the coming year. Another characterizes what’s happening as “a hiring freeze.” The third secret-so-and-so sounds less dire, but only by degrees. That one says they’ve heard from “a high-ranking divisional leader” that “budgets are under review.” 

It’s icky, but it’s not new news. The Business Insider piece quotes Apple CEO Tim Cook saying on an earnings call earlier this year:

We believe in investing through the downturn. And so we’ll continue to hire people and invest in areas, but we are being more deliberate in doing so in recognition of the realities of the environment…

Business Insider says that sentiment was echoed this week. An Apple spokesperson told the publication: 

We are continuing to hire but given the economic environment we’re taking a very deliberate approach in some parts of the business… We are very confident in Apple’s future and are investing for the long term. We want to be thoughtful and make smart decisions that enable us to continue fueling innovation for the long term.

The real issue may be how many degrees from freezing. The piece says:

All three sources who spoke to Insider suggested that Apple would continue to be cautious in how it characterizes hiring pauses or slowdowns, because conceding such moves could put a further dent in the company’s stock price.

Interesting. You’d think investors would reward the company for prudence. 

Wall Street’s funny.

Qualcomm Says It’ll Supply Majority of 5G Modems for 2023 iPhones

An interesting bit of news about Apple from Qualcomm on Wednesday: It looks like Apple won’t be making its own 5G modems for the next round of iPhones. Kristina Partsinevelos, a NASDAQ correspondent for CNBC with a focus on semiconductors, was listening in on Qualcomm’s September-quarter earnings report. As that was happening, she Tweeted out that Qualcomm “expects to have the ‘vast majority of share of 5G modems for the 2023 iPhone launch…’” Qualcomm had been expecting to hitch a lift in just 20% of Apple’s 2023 communicators. 

Hearing that news, one might immediately assume that Apple is having trouble making 5G modems of its own. Certainly that could be the case. At the same time, Qualcomm offered December-quarter guidance that disappointed Wall Street. It gave a few reasons for the lower guide. They included weakness in demand for handsets and internet-of-things things. That is being exacerbated by lockdowns in China, according to Partsinevelos. As a result, Qualcomm’s sitting on an excess of inventory. 

Apple may be having trouble making 5G modems of its own. Then again, Qualcomm may have played “Let’s Make a Deal” with the Cupertino-company. 

Heck, who knows? Maybe it’s both.

iPhones in India will Get 5G Support with iOS 16.2 Release

Apple’s set to flip the switch on 5G for iPhones in India, soon. 9to5Mac highlights a report from The IndianExpress that has Apple saying that that virtual switch will be thrown with the release of iOS 16.2. That said, folks using an iPhone 12, iPhone 13, iPhone 14, or a third-generation iPhone SE can try it out sooner than that. According to the report, “Apple users on Airtel and Jio who participate in the Beta Software Program will be able to try out 5G after the update next week.” 

Strategy Analytics: Apple Only Vendor to Grow Laptop Shipments in Q3

Strategy Analytics has had a look at laptop shipments for the September-quarter. The firm’s finding: It was a great quarter for Apple and a bad one for every other laptop maker. That is the word from AppleInsider. 

That Apple did well is not surprising. The company said on last week’s earnings call that Mac revenue was up 25% versus the same quarter a year earlier — hitting a record $11.5B. That was driven in part by the launch of the M2-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, as well as by pent up demand due to production problems back in the spring. 

Though Apple doesn’t give unit numbers and doesn’t break out revenue for laptops versus desktops, Strategy Analytics seems happy to play that game. By the firm’s reckoning: 

  • First-place Lenovo shipped 12.8m laptops — a decline of 16% year-on-year
  • Second-place HP shipped 9.5m laptops — a decline of 32%
  • Third-place Dell shipped 9.1m units — a drop of 25% year-on-year
  • Fourth-place Apple shipped 8.1m laptops — an increase of 26% year-on-year
  • Fifth-place ASUS shipped 4.3m units — a fall of 16%
  • And the big, grey blob of Others also declined — falling 17% on estimated shipments of 12.2m laptops

“Overall,” the piece says the firm figures “the global market for laptops declined 15% year-over-year,” with the Mac being the only bright spot. Do not expect a repeat this quarter. Apple computers had a gangbuster December 2021 quarter, thanks in part to new machines. With none of those coming this quarter, plus the foreign exchange headwinds, plus the macroeconomic concerns… Macs may do better than others, but execs telegraphed a decline in Mac revenue on last week’s September-quarter call. 

Senator Asks FTC and DOJ to Monitor Big Tech in the Automotive Space

Senator Elizabeth Warren wants everybody to keep an eye on Apple, Google, and Amazon as they roll into the automotive game. MacRumors had the Massachusetts Democrat sending:

…a letter [PDF] to antitrust officials at the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, requesting that they investigate “Big Tech’s expansion into the automotive industry.”

While she does note Amazon’s attempt at self-driving cars, indications in the piece are that she’s particularly concerned with Apple and Google and the inroads they’ve already made with CarPlay and Android Auto. According to the report:

The senator claims that Apple and Google’s expansion into cars threatens to spread “anticompetitive mobile app markets practices” to automobiles, citing in-app purchase requirements and the fact that ‌CarPlay‌ and Android Auto apps must be approved by Apple and Google, respectively, before being allowed into vehicles.

The senator expresses worry that the big tech players will “stifle a nascent industry…” She’s also said by MacRumors to be concerned:

…that the companies are setting themselves up to be a “one-stop shop for automakers,” for data collection, cloud storage, analytics, in-car navigation, voice assistants, and autonomous driving collection.

The report goes on to say:

Warren is asking the FTC and the DOJ to use their authority to address concerns as they emerge and “prevent further overreach by Big Tech companies.” She says that without “proactive and rigorous oversight,” Google, Apple, and Amazon will “bring their anticompetitive, anti-consumer, and anti-labor practices to the automotive sector.”

Glasgow Apple Store Votes to Unionize

The number of unionized Apple Stores appears to have grown by one. Engadget cites a report from The Herald in Scotland saying, “Workers at an Apple Store in Glasgow, Scotland, voted on Wednesday to unionize.” The piece says workers at the city’s Buchanan Street store “voted ‘overwhelmingly’ in favor” of union. 

How did Apple take it? About the same. While the Cupertino-company did not respond to a request for comment from Engadget, it did tell Scotland’s The Herald:

We have long been committed to providing an excellent experience for our customers and teams… Apple is one of the highest paying retailers in Scotland and we’ve regularly made enhancements to our industry-leading benefits as a part of the overall support we provide to our valued team members.

See? About the same. Assuming the vote is certified, Engadget says the Buchanan Street location will be the UK’s first unionized Apple Store. 

Apple Releases Official Trailer for Holiday Comedy/Musical ‘Spirited’

And finally today, I’m not sure why but I am catching the holiday mood a bit early this year. I saw Christmas candy before Halloween and got a tiny bit excited. I intentionally listened to my first Christmas song of the season yesterday — “Someday at Christmas” by Stevie Wonder, in case you’re wondering. And I have watched the latest trailer for the Apple TV+ film Spirited at least a couple of times. 

Spirited is the latest comedy/musical take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol starring Will Farrell, Ryan Reynolds, and Octavia Spencer. It hits theaters in a little over a week — Friday, November 11. It starts streaming one-week later — Friday, November 18. I anticipate watching it more than once this holiday season, and I make no apologies for that.

If you want to see why, the official trailer is up now on YouTube.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

When it comes to paying artists, which streaming music service is the best? TMO writer Nick deCourville joins me to look at the complexities around that question. Plus — Amazon has a new music offering for Prime members that … sounds … like … a thing. It’s a big music day on The Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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