Apple looking to tap academic research expertise as it opens office in Cambridge, England

cambridge

Apple is opening its first office in Cambridge, England, close to the city’s world-famous university, according to a report in Business Weekly.

The Californian-based business is believed to have identified 90 Hills Road for its Cambridge city centre offices and R & D function. With Grade A office space at a premium in Cambridge, the US giant would probably start with around 20 staff but have capacity to gear up to as many as 40 in that space.

The offices overlook the Cambridge University botanical gardens …  Read more

Yet another reason Apple has to make its products in China: Rare Earths

With all of the controversy and media attention Apple has experienced since The New York Times’  “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work” article, a post from Motherboard (via iFixit) provides yet another reason why Apple makes its products in China—rare earths. While noting China’s cheap labor and lack of environmental regulations certainly contribute to Apple’s decision, the post explained how Apple’s use of rare earth elements might make it hard to move manufacturing elsewhere:

But there’s another important reason why Apple and other manufacturers have their heels stuck in Chinese mud. iPad manufacturing, like the manufacturing of other electronics, requires a significant amount of rare earth elements, the 17 difficult-to-mine elements used in all kinds of green technology. It’s hard to say exactly what rare earths are in an iPad, since Apple is really tight-lipped about their materials

iFixit ‘s Elizabeth Chamberlain spoke with Cambridge engineering professor Dr. Tim Coombs who “guesses that there may be lanthanum in the iPad’s lithium-ion polymer battery, as well as ‘a range of rare earths to produce the different colours’ in the display.” He also thinks the magnets in Smart Covers and the iPad itself contain neodymium alloy. So how does rare earths keep Apple tied to China? The report explained: Read more

Apple’s new retail SVP and why he was chosen to replace Ron Johnson

We reported last night that Apple officially appointed CEO of Dixons John Browett as its senior vice president of Retail following Ron Johnson’s departure in October of last year. Browett is leaving his position at Dixons Retail, which operates various United Kingdom-based retail stores including Currys, Currys.digital, and PC World. Dixons is one of the largest electronics chains in Europe, and PC World, the last on that list,  is one of the largest computer/consumer electronic retailers in the U.K. It also has a reputation of being a big-box consumer electronic store that consumers describe as “the worst of Best Buy and Radio Shack combined.”

While U.K. product-testing and consumer advocacy group Which? consistently ranked both Currys Digital and PC World at the bottom of its research regarding the Top 100 retail chains, a report from Financial Times explained “Apple has mystery shopped and been impressed.” Specifically, the report mentioned “a system of decision trees to match customers with products” that Browett has implemented while at Dixons.

The calculation of Mr Cook may be that if Mr Browett is good at selling people products that bore them, he will do even better selling them i-gadgets that they lust after.

According to reports in November from BBC, Browett recently renovated more than 250 stores, implemented new service, and customer support strategies. However, the company reported first-half losses of just over £25 million (slightly lower than expected, but higher than losses of £6.9 million the year prior). In 2009, Retail Week (via GigaOm) profiled Browett, calling him “affable and intellectual” and describing his “schoolboy enthusiasm” for technology during a trip to PC World. Here is an excerpt:
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