19 August 2019
Apple's shorter product cycle means it needs to ramp up capacity and hire more people. Photo: Bloomberg
Apple's shorter product cycle means it needs to ramp up capacity and hire more people. Photo: Bloomberg

Apple hiring hundreds in China to speed development

Good news for Apple fanatics: the company is “hiring hundreds of new engineers and supply-chain managers” across Asia in an attempt to “speed up product development and launch a wider range of devices”.

According to the Wall Street Journal, as the company ramps up to release a rumored Apple TV update, iWatch, two larger iPhones, and CarPlay, Apple has hired as many as 600 engineers and operations staff in China and Taiwan.

The new teams will reportedly work out of the company’s main Asian campus in Shanghai and its office in Taipei.

Last year’s launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c could indeed hint that Apple is hot to increase the number of products it offers, but an ever-shortening product cycle across the industry would mean that Apple has made a shift from its current business model, Gizmodo notes. Hiring large teams of engineers that can work directly with suppliers could help streamline that shift.

The Cupertino-based company, the largest publicly traded corporation in the world and the most successful start-up of all time, is poaching staff from rival companies such as HTC and HTC suppliers Quanta Computers and Inventec, said people familiar with the matter.

For the uninitiated, Apple — much to the annoyance and frustration of its intensely devoted fan base — has traditionally taken its time to launch new smartphones, tablets and the like. The iPhone, for example, launched on June 29, 2007, with new incrementally awesome generations coming out roughly a year apart since then. The double launch of the 5S and 5C last year was a first.

If Apple is really trying to launch two new flagship iPhones and iPads every year, it’s critical that the company get its production even more streamlined and essential components faster. Recent shortages of iPad Mini Retina screens and iPhone lithium-ion batteries, for instance, had Apple scrambling.

The iPhone 6, which Bloomberg said will be released in 2014, will reportedly come in two screen sizes, one with a 4.7-inch display, the other with a 5.5-inch display. The latest and greatest iPhone 5s has a 4-inch screen. Pegatron and Foxconn are likely to split iPhone 6 assembly duties in China.

Adding new gadgets such as the iWatch to the product mix makes things even more complicated. The iWatch, according to rumors, will serve as an accessory to the iPhone and other iOS devices, giving users easy at-a-glance access to common functions without having to take their larger devices out of their pockets or bags. It will also feature biometric sensors and could possibly serve as a control device for home automation.

CarPlay is an in-car system dubbed as “the smarter, safer and more fun way to use iPhone in the car”. The system will allow iPhone users to make and receive calls, use Maps, listen to music and access messages “with just a word or a touch”. Perfect for China’s driving elite, it will ship with selected 2014 Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo models, with BMW, General Motors, Ford and Land Rover also committing to the dashboard interface.

The hiring push comes as Apple is trying to take a bigger bite out of Greater China, its fastest-growing market in the most recent quarter, and one where the company has high hopes after leading mobile operator China Mobile began selling iPhones in January, WSJ reports. Apple said sales in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, rose 29 percent to US$8.84 billion in its first fiscal quarter to Dec. 28.

Partnering with China Mobile gives Apple a needed boost in China where it has been losing the smartphone race to competitors offering cheaper options, CNN says. Analysts estimate Apple could sell as many as 24 million iPhones this year through the state-owned telecommunications company, the world’s largest mobile phone operator.

In Hong Kong, Apple outsold all comers in 2013, leading sales in smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, according to data from researcher GfK.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]



A strategist and marketing consultant on China business

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