Hong Kong Apple Store met with protest over supply chain violations on iPhone 6 launch day

Apple has implemented improved reservation procedures and policies for employees dealing with the iPhone 6 launch today at retail stores, but the launch at the company’s Hong Kong store hasn’t gone quite as smooth as elsewhere. The store was hit by protesters from the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) and also required police to help disperse customers that had waited in line without reservations.

SACOM protested outside Apple’s Hong Kong stores with the banner pictured above reading, “iSlave, Harsher than Harsher, Still made in sweatshops.”  To go along with the protest today, SACOM has also published a new report titled “The Lives of iSlaves” that reveals recent findings from an almost 1-year long investigation of three factories run by Apple’s manufacturing partner Pegatron. SACOM says its key findings include various infractions related to labor laws at the facilities: Read more

Apple profiled for renewable energy in sapphire factory, says supply-chain is now the focus

After showing more journalists around its solar-powered North Carolina data center (where it is building a third solar farm), Apple says that its new focus for renewable energy is its supply chain. The Guardian reports that the sapphire factory in Arizona forms part of this initiative.

The company is also moving to install solar and geothermal power at a plant in Mesa, Arizona that has been manufacturing sapphire glass. Apple would not directly comment on the Arizona factory but the state’s governor, Jan Brewer, has publicly praised the company’s decision to relocate there and to use solar and geothermal in manufacturing.

Apple’s VP of environmental initiatives Lisa Jackson said that the company is conscious that its supply chain cannot claim the same green credentials as Apple itself …  Read more

Spurious claim Apple will release 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhones separately ‘to avoid competition’

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Supply-chain rumors are can be unreliable sources at the best of times, but never more so than when they claim to offer insight into Apple’s strategic plans. DigiTimes is claiming that Apple will be launching the 4.7- and 5.5-inch models of the iPhone 6 separately “to avoid competition between the two models.”

The different timetables have been set as Apple does not want to repeat the mistake it made in 2013 when it launched the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c simultaneously, said the sources.

Let’s take this one step at a time. First, what companies in the supply-chain know are how many orders have been placed with them for specific components. They don’t know what orders Apple may have placed with other suppliers for the same components, and they don’t even necessarily know in which product the parts will be used …  Read more

Apple agrees to pay smaller suppliers faster as part of Obama’s new ‘SupplierPay’ program

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According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, President Barack Obama is set to announce a new program called “SupplierPay” to help boost small businesses, and Apple is one of the 26 companies listed as having already signed on.

The program intends to send money down the supply chain and help strengthen contractors and smaller businesses by giving them access to lower-cost capital and thereby opening up opportunities for hiring more workers. This, the White House hopes, will increase investments at the small business level as well. Read more

Apple will announce 4M more iPhone sales than supply chain data suggests, says Morgan Stanley

Photo: digitaltrends.com

Photo: digitaltrends.com

Predictions of disappointing Q2 iPhone sales could be unduly pessimistic, says Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty. She expects Apple to announce that it shipped 42M iPhones in the first quarter of the year (Apple’s fiscal Q2), rather than the 38M suggested by supply chain analysis, reports Business Insider. This would represent year-on-year growth of more than 4.5M handsets.

Huberty says that the supply chain may work in overdrive during the holiday quarter to generate extra product, and then ease back in the March quarter, thus giving an unreliable read out on sales.

Huberty bases her estimate on a method which sounds eccentric but has an excellent track-record …  Read more

Apple’s supplier responsibility report highlights progress on working conditions, boosts focus on environment

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Apple’s eighth annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report highlights the progress made on reducing child labor and enforcing working hour limits, and shows a significant increase in the environmental standards Apple’s suppliers are expected to meet.

The number of cases of underage workers fell from 106 last year to 11 this year. Compliance with Apple’s requirement of a maximum working week of 60 hours hit 95 percent, with 97 percent meeting the requirement of at least one day off a week. Apple reported that the average working week of a supply chain employee was less than 50 hours …  Read more

Foxconn execs charged with taking bribes to award iPhone supply contracts

Photo: Thomson Reuters

Photo: Thomson Reuters

Several former execs at Foxconn have been charged with taking bribes from companies supplying the company with iPhone components, reports the WSJ.

Following a year of investigation, prosecutors said Thursday they have detained a former Foxconn general manager for allegedly taking kickbacks from supply chain partners. Prosecutors said three other former Foxconn employees were released on bail [after being charged] …  Read more

12.9-inch iPad rumor is back with launch date, early launch for larger size iPhone included

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Mockups: T3

Rumors of a larger iPad have been bouncing around since May (complete with the world’s silliest name). They gained credibility (minus the name) when reported by the WSJ in July, and our poll certainly suggests there would be demand for it, with 24 percent of 9to5Mac readers declaring that they love the idea. There have, however, so far been few supporting specifics.

Digitimes is not always the most credible of sources, but it is today suggesting that the 12.9-inch iPad will be manufactured by Quanta Computer, launched in October and targeted at the education market, citing its usual anonymous “supply chain sources” …  Read more

Apple’s challenges in ensuring fair treatment of workers in complex supply chains

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Bloomberg has a lengthy piece illustrating just how great a challenge it is for Apple and other multinational companies to ensure the fair treatment of workers in complex supply chains.

When one of Apple’s suppliers like Flextronics wins a new contract, it needs to take on additional workers – lots of them, and fast. Those workers are recruited through employment brokers, which are required to adhere to Apple’s rules. But many of them are brought in from other countries, like Malaysia and Nepal.

Alok Taparia, the managing director of Transworld Manpower, another of the four Nepalese brokers retained for that drive, says he was given clear instructions: Workers shouldn’t be charged; Flextronics would pay the brokers. But Taparia and the other Nepalese brokers say Flextronics demanded so many men so quickly that there was no way to do it without tapping the country’s network of subagents, stretching into Himalayan villages reachable only by foot. As Apple itself has described in reports on its supply chain, the subagents always charge…

Read more

KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo provides details on new iPads coming in Q4

Mingchi-Kuo-ipad-2013.

An analyst note from a usually reliable Ming-Chi Kuo (郭明錤) seemingly confirms our expectation that Apple will not announce new iPads on September 10th, but at a separate event later in the year.

The note makes supply chain forecasts suggesting that assembly production of the iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2 will start with low-volume production this month, and enter mass-production in the final quarter. If the tablets were to be announced on September 10th, we would expect them to be much further along the production cycle by now.

As expected, both iPad models are said to use the A7X processor, which should see be a particularly noticeable improvement on the existing A5-based Mini.

There were a couple of surprises in the note …  Read more

Foxconn posts record profits citing increased efficiency of iPhone and iPad production

foxconnHon Hai Precision Industry Co, better known by its parent company name Foxconn, posted record quarterly profits in the final quarter of last year, citing increased production and improved efficiency of iPhones and iPads, as reported by Bloomberg.

Net income rose 5.6 percent to $1.2 billion, ahead of analyst expectations, but may face more challenging times ahead … Read more

Fix dings/dents/scratches on your iPhone 5 with this $99 original rear panel replacement

One of the biggest controversies surrounding the launch of the iPhone 5 has been the light scratching and chipping that some users have reported witnessing on the device’s coated aluminium backside. Apple’s Marketing Senior Vice President Phil Schiller called the scratching “normal” for aluminium products, as scratching on the coated surface reveals the natural silver color underneath making it more noticeable to users than an all-glass design. There have even been reports that quality control issues related to the scratching have lead to shortages and troubles in Apple’s supply chain.

While Apple is standing behind the design for the most part (they will swap your iPhone 5 for a new one if it’s scratched out of the box), there is another solution on the market for your scratched iPhone 5. iPhone5mod, the same people behind one of the first Lightning connector docks on the market, is today releasing rear panel replacements that it claimed are 100 percent original.

The standalone rear case is apparently “the same thing you are seeing and touching in your iPhone 5 right now.” It would not be all that shocking considering China-based iPhone5mod also claimed to have “original Lightning controller chips from Apple’s supplier” for its iPhone 5 dock.

The replacement part is available for $99 now in both black and white from iPhone5mod.com. Apple has been quick to issue takedown notices for the company’s products in the past, so there is a possibility these won’t last long.

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