A Reported Chill in Apple Hiring

The Daily Observations

A cold front across Apple’s hiring line, new help shopping for an iPhone, and possible new wrinkle for Apple in India. 

Bloomberg: Apple Delays Some Bonuses and Further Slows Hiring in Cost-Saving Efforts

Things may be a bit more chilly when it comes to Apple’s hiring. One hates to use the word “freeze,” so maybe we go with the wording from Bloomberg, and say that currently, Apple “Limits Hiring” in an effort to pinch its pennies. 

That’s only part of Apple’s reported plan, though the other part’s kind of odd. Let’s do the hiring thing first. Secret people said to know something about something tell Bloomberg that “the company is limiting hiring for more jobs and leaving additional positions open when employees depart.” 

Limiting… being deliberate… two sides of the same coin, perhaps. During last week’s shareholder call, Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed #TheseTimesInWhichWeLive, saying, “We’re being very prudent and thoughtful on spending and we continue to be very deliberate when it comes to hiring…” That said, he said the company continues to “invest in innovation.” 

As for the other stuff, it’s kind of strange. While most Apple employees below the executive level get bonuses once a year, there are apparently some who get theirs twice a year. Or did. According to the secret so-and-sos, the “twice-a-year teams” usually got bonuses in April and October. “Under the new plan,” the piece says:

…that group won’t see bonuses or promotions next month, and all divisions will move to an annual schedule — with the payments occurring only in October.

While the move is said to be part of a cost-saving measure, the piece says employees will still get their “full bonuses.” So — how is that cost-saving? I know — there are likely many ways beyond my feeble capacity. 

Even with the full amount coming, this could hurt the affected. Bloomberg points out that folks “often count on such bonuses for their personal budgeting.” At the same time, people who had been planning to take the money and run come April will now probably want to hang in until October. That’s Bloomberg’s thinking anyway, though it’s hard to see a lot of people looking to bounce #InThisEconomy. 

Travel budgets are also said by the report to be down. And, the piece says, the company “is now requiring senior vice president approval — the highest executive level at the company below the CEO and operating chief — for more budget items.” 

All of this assumes the secret-peeps said to know something actually know what they say they know. Apple declined to comment for the Bloomberg report. 

Apple Intros iPhone Sales Service ‘Shop with a Specialist over Video’

Despite talk of a hiring slowdown, operators are standing by ‘round Cupertino way. Apple introduced a new feature on Tuesday called “Shop with a Specialist over Video.” Guess what it lets you do. Actually — not quite as much as the title implies. According to the feature’s press release, “Customers in the U.S. can now connect with an Apple Specialist over video to shop the iPhone lineup…” quoting the company:

…Shop with a Specialist over Video connects customers looking to purchase iPhone with a retail team member via a safe and secure, one-way video shopping session. With this new service, customers can browse the latest models, explore new features, and learn about Apple Trade In offers, carrier deals, switching to iOS, and various financing options.

You caught the “one-way video” part, right? Apple stresses that, saying later in the release:

During the session, an Apple team member will be on camera sharing their screen, but they will not be able to see the customer.

So no need to clean or shower or even get dressed! 

Hours of video operation run 7 a.m. Pacific to 7 p.m. Pacific seven days a week. If those times don’t work for you, or if you get the 21st century equivalent of a busy signal (ask your dad), Apple points out that users “can contact a Specialist over the phone or via chat 24 hours a day.” Let nothing stand in the way of a sale.

For people here in the states, your video sales chat awaits at apple.com/shop/buy-iphone

‘Hello Yellow Submarine

The “Jetsons” shopping experience wasn’t the only bit of newness for the iPhone line on Tuesday. The new, yellow iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus made the scene as well, with deliveries and in-store availability going live on March 14. Along with it, an ad that looks like it would fit nicely with a sky of blue and sea of green. 

AppleInsider says to celebrate/raise awareness of the yellow phone, the company launched a new ad called “Hello Yellow.” The piece says the ad “shows a man walking through a city filled with animated people, exploring everything through photos taken on a yellow iPhone 14.” 

Though the AppleInsider piece doesn’t mention it, the animation style is more than slightly reminiscent of the animated Beatles feature Yellow Submarine. They didn’t lean into that too hard, though. The singer in the background is not Liverpudlian. Rather, the company went with “Le Banana Split” by Lio. The look is unmistakable though. At least, it was to me. You can catch the ad for yourself on YouTube

India May Want Smartphone Makers to Unbundle Apps from Operating Systems

While things may be going swimmingly on Apple’s manufacturing front in India (here’s one example, and another, and another), devices are only part of the Cupertino-company’s equation. Another part — the software and services that slip seamlessly into the hardware, may be hitting a snag on the subcontinent. 

AppleMust cites a Reuters report, saying:

…India’s IT ministry is considering new rules as part of an attempt to protect against spying and abuse of user data on the part of smartphone manufacturers.

According to the piece, proposed changes could include requiring smartphone makers like Apple “to offer an Uninstall option for bundled apps,” up to and including “core apps such as Photos or Safari.” One official is quoted in the piece, saying:

Pre-installed apps can be a weak security point and we want to ensure no foreign nations, including China, are exploiting it. It’s a matter of national security… 

But wait! There’s more! The piece goes on to say:

Manufacturers will also be required to submit new devices for security testing by India’s Bureau of Indian standards agency and get software updates tested at the same agency. Testing can take up to 21-weeks, which would dramatically delay product launches.

Though not certain, it seems more than likely that such requirements could throw a wrench in the manufacturing works Apple and Foxconn are trying to get going. The way Apple Must sees it:

…this could do a lot of damage to production schedules and secrecy. Apple will not want to see new product launches delayed in this way as it prepares to make them in India.

Nothing official on any of this yet — it’s legislation proposed, not legislation passed. Additionally, the report says “India will give manufacturers one year’s notice” before such rules go into effect.

Fourth Beta of tvOS 16.4 Out to Developers

The release schedules for Apple betas are starting to feel out of sync. MacRumors ran a piece Tuesday saying that the fourth beta of tvOS 16.4 was out to developers. tvOS 16.4. And nothing else. 

Kind of weird. 

McConaughey and Harrelson Team for Apple TV+ Comedy Series

And finally today, news of a new show in the works for Apple TV+ — one that will reunite Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. This one will likely be more amusing than their time together as true detectives, though. A press release from Apple TV+ says the two are pairing “for a new, 10-episode half-hour comedy,” created by “The Big Door Prize” creator David West Read. According to the release:

The untitled comedy is a heartfelt odd couple love story revolving around the strange and beautiful bond between (…) McConaughey and (…) Harrelson. Matthew and Woody’s friendship is tested when their combined families attempt to live together on Matthew’s ranch in Texas.

No indication in the release on when the show will premier.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO writer Nick deCourville and I talk over the reported cold front in Apple’s HR department. Plus: An email from Nate on Apple TV+ and the first installment of Nick’s Picks! That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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