Alleged leak of iWatch component drawings & specs surface ahead of tomorrow’s unveiling

A set of images have appeared online today (via Reddit) allegedly showing CAD drawings for various components of Apple’s yet to be announced wearable product. The images, which include a watermark from one of Apple’s longtime manufacturing partners Quanta, show various mic and speaker components that look to be right for a watch-like device, but the poster adds more details in a description of the photos. According to the leak, Apple’s wearable will have a mic, speaker, Siri, and a “flexible, multi-touch screen will add a new dimension to the UI.” It’s also worth noting that Quanta was one of Apple’s partners that was reportedly already beginning trial production and expected to be a main supplier of iWatch.

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Apple to build new manufacturing facility in Arizona with solar-power, will create 2000+ jobs

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The State of Arizona today announced that Apple is planning to build a new manufacturing facility in the city of Mesa, Arizona. The facility will create 700 jobs for manufacturing, and an additional 1,300 jobs for the construction and management of the new facility, In total, Apple will be bringing at least 2,000 new jobs to the United States thanks to this new facility.

In addition to the manufacturing facility, Apple will be constructing a new solar power grid in the city to power the manufacturing operations, according to Arizona’s announcement:

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New iPhone 5S photos unfortunately reveal little new about the device

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MacRumors has allegedly gotten their hands on photos of what appear to the rear shell and components of the rumored iPhone 5S. While these photos reveal little new about the device, they provide a closer picture at what we might see from Apple later this year.

Most notably, the photos depict a redesigned rear shell for the next generation iPhone, making room for a larger, dual-LED flash cutout, and presumably a higher resolution camera. Previous reports have noted that Apple has been experimenting  with a 12 or 13-megapixel camera for the iPhone 5S, along with an improved night shooting mode.

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Following earnings call, AAPL drops below 600 for the first time since July

Less than 24 hours after releasing its fourth-quarter earnings results, Apple stock has now dropped below $600 for the first time since July. Apple reported Q4 earnings slightly higher than the analysts expected (apart from iPad sales, with 14 million units sold coming in lower than most estimates). Apple posted $8.2 billion in net profit with $36 million in revenue and diluted earnings per share of $8.67. That compares to an average of about 15.5 million iPads, earnings per share of $8.75, and $35.51 billion in revenue expected by the analysts.

During Apple’s Q4 results conference call yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook answered questions about iPhone 5 supply and demand and shortages going forward. According to Cook, production is increasing but the company is still in a “significant state of backlog.” He confirmed Apple still plans to roll out the device to 100 countries by the end of the year. This morning—the iPad mini, and fourth-generation iPad, officially went up for pre-order. Shortly after, Apple sold out of some models and pushed back shipping times.

Cook remained confident that component shortages would not hold back iPhone and iPad sales, stating he is “pleased with the current volume of output.” He did, however, warn about significant iMac delays headed into the holidays:

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Apple addresses environmental concerns with audits of 15 suppliers, could impact future components and contracts

Apple has been no stranger to environmental concerns regarding their manufacturing and supply chain abroad, most recently a report from five independent environmental organizations in China in August accused the company of taking “advantage of the loopholes in developing countries environmental management systems” and awarding contracts to known polluters. Yesterday Apple responded to the accusations in a three-hour meeting with five Chinese environmental NGOs, admitting fifteen of their current manufacturing partners are contributing to pollution in surrounding areas by agreeing to perform audits of the companies. This followed several meetings with Apple following the group’s report in August, including one with Apple execs in Cupertino.

According to a report from WSJ, Ma Jun, of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs in Beijing, had this to say following the meeting:

“This is a major step forward… They asked these companies to take corrective plans and give a timeline, and Apple will verify whether all these issues have been resolved.”

As a result of the meeting, Apple is apparently vowing to improve its environmental standards within its supply chain, a move that could not only alter the manufacturing process of components, but also impact contracts awarded to manufacturers and suppliers in the future. According to the report, to avoid issues like massive amounts of waste water, Apple will encourage alternative manufacturing processes for components such as printed circuit boards. Apple also confirmed that this and other environmental concerns will play a role when awarding future contracts to suppliers.
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Foxconn will bring on 1 million robots in 3 years to replace workers

Foxconn’s founder and chariman Terry Gou said the company will replace an unspecified amount workers with one million robots in three years. Foxconn is the Asian manufacturer that is responsible for many components inside of Apple, Sony, and Nokia’s devices. Currently, the company has 10,000 robots and will expand to 300,000 next year, gradually opening the door to a total of one million robots in three years.

One interesting aspect of a robotized workforce is that it makes places with more expensive workers more competitive.

The robots will be used to accomplish basic tasks like spraying, wielding, and assembling. Foxconn currently employs 1.2 million people, therefore one million robots could potentially be a big hit on employment in China. Read more