supplier Stories August 31, 2015

Former Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced to cut 40% of workforce as restructuring continues

Nearly a year ago, Apple’s sapphire supplier GT Advanced Tech announced that it was filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, with the company parting ways with Apple as part of the restructuring. Today, The Wall Street Journal reports that GT Advanced Tech will be reducing its workforce by another 40 percent in an effort to further cut costs.

supplier Stories October 23, 2014

As expected, Apple’s clean break from GT Advanced is now official

Apple’s clean-break settlement with GT Advanced is now official, two days after lawyers for the bankrupt sapphire manufacturer reported that agreement had been reached. In a press release, the company said that the company was being given up to four years interest-free to repay the $439M owed to Apple.

GT will be released from all exclusivity obligations under its various agreements with Apple. GT will retain ownership of all production, ancillary and inventory assets located in Mesa and Apple is provided with a mechanism for recovering its $439 million pre-payment made to GT over a period of up to four years without interest, solely from a portion of the proceeds from ASF® sales. The agreement provides for a mutual release of any and all claims by both parties. As a result of the agreed upon terms, GT retains control of its intellectual property and will be able to sell its sapphire growth and fabrication technology, including ASF and Hyperion™, without restrictions.

The company is exiting the sapphire production business and will repay Apple from the proceeds of selling its furnaces, the four-year timeframe likely agreed in order to allow GT Advanced to achieve the best price.

GTAT said that it will continue “technical exchange” with Apple to help develop future production processes, but will limit its future involvement in sapphire to making production equipment for other companies.

supplier Stories January 14, 2014

Report: Apple ships 1.4 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile ahead of Jan. 17 launch

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has shipped approximately 1.4 million iPhone 5S units to China Mobile in preparation of the carrier’s iPhone launch on Jan. 17. The report notes it likely doesn’t present sales for the full month of January with preorders having kicked off under three weeks ago, but it is a good indication of how many new iPhone customers Apple could potentially get on a monthly basis through the deal:

“Shipping one million or more iPhones to a single carrier per month is substantial. But we have limited visibility beyond this month as Apple hasn’t informed Foxconn of  the volume for the next shipment to China Mobile,” said the person.

Apple finally made things official last month when it announced in a press release that it had struck a deal with China Mobile to begin selling the iPhone 5s and 5c, marking the first time the iPhone would be sold through the carrier’s retail stores. China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier with over 760 million subscribers, started taking preorders for the device on December 25 following Apple’s announcement. No word on estimates for iPhone 5c shipments, but China Mobile is set to begin selling that device too starting Friday.

supplier Stories July 28, 2013

According to an upcoming report from the China Labor Watch, outlined by the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s China-based manufacturing partner Pegatron has come under fire for worker conditions. The report outlines several claims which shed a negative light on Pegatron:

  • Pegatron is claimed to be withholding worker IDs. This means that Pegatron employees are unable to work elsewhere because they lack proper identification.
  • The company is also claimed to be providing “poor living conditions” with “30-minute waits to enter their production facility, tight living quarters, and packed cafeterias.” Cold showers and packed dorms are also noted.
  • Workers are claimed to be working over 60 hours a week (Apple’s limit), while Apple’s June Supplier Responsibility paper points to a 46-hour work-week average for Pegatron employees.
  • At a Pegatron subsidiary, employees are said to be provided gloves that do not sufficiently protect from the materials used to create metal backplates for the iPad.

As for pay, the report claims that some workers are seeing their payment withheld. Within this issue, recruiting companies for Pegatron have come under fire for not paying the workers enough. These recruiting companies, in some situations, are even fining employees:

expand full story

supplier Stories April 12, 2013

More reports claim next iPhone to include fingerprint tech, could lead to launch delays

Brian White, Topeka Capital’s Apple analyst that previously gave some quite out there predictions for an Apple TV with “iRing”, today is saying that his recent checks with suppliers in Asia indicate Apple will include fingerprint sensor tech in the next iPhone. For what it’s worth, White says it could be the flagship feature of the 5S like Siri was with iPhone 4S. That’s something we predicted earlier in our “S” iPhone piece (via BusinessInsider):

White says, “we believe fingerprint identification technology will be part of the iPhone 5S and this is likely to be the major new feature used to market the iPhone 5S, similar to what Siri was to the iPhone 4S.”

I know… It’s a rumor that we’ve heard many times before, but now another analyst that often has accurate information is saying that same fingerprint tech could be the source of delays for the next-gen iPhone.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has changed his previous predictions regarding product launches for iPhone, iPad, iPod citing a number of challenges with suppliers and the development of new features including the implementation of fingerprint technology in iPhone (via MacRumors):

Earlier we estimated that shipments of the new iPhone would begin in July (FDD version) and September (TDD version), while iPad mini 2 would hit the market in August. Currently, market consensus for shipments of iPhone 5S, low-cost iPhone and iPad mini 2 is July, July, and August, respectively. But in light of publicly available information and our knowledge of technological trends, we now think all three products will begin shipments later than our previous expectation and market consensus.

While Kuo, who previously laid out his roadmap for 2013, doesn’t provide new estimates for when the devices might ship, he does say that apple is facing challenges with finding the right color coatings that work with the fingerprint sensor rumored to be included in the next iPhone, and “technical challenges” related to the manufacturing of a Retina display for a second generation iPad mini. Needlessly to say we’ll be checking back in this summer to see how accurate these analysts reports have been.

supplier Stories December 19, 2012

Last week, a report from The Wall Street Journal claimed Apple’s much rumored HDTV set is now in the “early stages of testing” with partners Hon Hai Precision and Sharp. Today, we get more details surrounding the rumored product from the Taiwan national news agency’s English language Focus Taiwan. According to the report, citing sources close to Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the supplier is testing Apple television designs, but the possibility of the product shipping in 2013 is “unlikely”:

Nevertheless, the source said it is unlikely that shipments of the appliances will begin as soon as the end of next year.

While the report from WSJ claimed Sharp was involved in the initial testing of the product with Hon Hai, Focus Taiwan’s source claimed the possibility of Sharp displaying panels for the product is “not high”:

Asked whether the new Apple TV will use display panels produced by Japan’s Sharp Corp., the source said the possibility is not high.

The source also claimed that Apple is looking at displays ranging from 46 inches to 55 inches, meaning the company likely wouldn’t rely on Sharp’s plants best suited for production of 60+ inch panels: expand full story

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