The training materials have a completion date of March 26 or 27, and with Staples already confirming plans to bring Apple TV and other products to stores by early next month, it’s a possibility other iOS devices and MacBooks could be included in the roll out. We’ll keep you updated if we get official word from the company. Read more
Update: While it’s hard to read too much into these reports, Foxconn told The Wall Street Journal the freeze on hiring is a result of ”a high employee return rate following the Lunar New Year holiday.”
According to the report from Financial Times, Apple’s major assembly partner Foxconn has halted new hiring at its facilities due to a slow down in production for the iPhone 5:
The suspension in hiring by China’s largest private sector employer and the biggest assembler of Apple products, is the first such countrywide move since the 2009 downturn, prompted by the financial crisis. It underscores the weakening demand for some Apple products, which has put pressure on the US company’s battered share price.
Foxconn confirmed it is not currently hiring in its plants located in mainland China, and FT reported the company’s employees were informed that hiring would stop until at least the end of March “in response to reduced orders for the iPhone 5.” While the iPhone 5 doesn’t seem to be experiencing a slow down, according to the latest numbers from Strategy Analytics, the March time frame would line up nicely with rumors of iPhone 5S production beginning in March. Many analysts are calling for a June or July launch of the next-generation iPhone, and Apple could begin initial production as early as next month if true. The decreased production at Foxconn is likely thanks to the expected falloff in new sales in the months following the busy holiday season. Less likely is speculation that Apple could be switching manufacturers.
Recruiters in China told FT that Foxconn has stopped hiring specifically for the iPhone and iPad production lines in many of its factories:
”As word of the earlier production schedule starts to spread, we believe we could see a slight slowing of demand CQ1 in anticipation of the new product launch and Apple will likely start curtailing channel inventory. Therefore we tweak down our CQ1 iPhone shipment estimate from 48M to 44M, which is still well above widespread fears of shipments in the mid-30Ms.”
Back in December Misek also claimed the 5S is coming in June and at the time said he expects Apple to ship the device with multiple colors, improved battery life, and possibly a 4.8″ Retina/IGZO display. However, in today’s note Misek said there has been no additional evidence for the 4.8″ prototype signaling the design could be for the iPhone 6. Today he also added his thoughts on rumors of a low-cost iPhone, claiming Apple could release a low-cost device made of polycarbonate with no LTE and a 4″ non-retina display.
While noting its March numbers indicate continued growth for the iPhone’s marketshare, Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley (via AllThingsD) said the iPhone is currently outselling “all other smartphones” at both AT&T and Sprint together. He also said Verizon is selling roughly as many iPhones as all Android phones combined: