Apple says it has worked to fix problems
The Fair Labor Association has published the results of 2013 audits of Shanghai and Changshu facilities run by Apple supplier Quanta, documenting numerous labor rights violations. These included illegal recruitment and underage labor practices, as well as health and safety problems. The audits were previously mentioned in Apple's 2014 Supplier Responsibility report, but the company has responded today with a new statement insisting that it was worked to improve conditions since, and that it will cut ties with firms that fail to meet FLA standards. "Our suppliers must live up to the toughest standards in the industry if they want to keep doing business with Apple," it says.
Thought to be similar in design to current Airs
Apple's rumored 12-inch MacBook Air will enter mass production by Quanta Computer in the third quarter, sources tell Digitimes. As for specifications, the sources claim that it will have at least some internal changes, affecting layout and the battery. External design should be similar to current 11- and 13-inch Airs. It's still not clear though if the machine will have an anticipated Retina display, which would finally put the Air on par with Apple's other mobile products.
Third report pointing to October timeframe
Taiwanese firm Quanta has started on trial production of the Apple iWatch, and will enter mass production in July in advance of an October release date, sources tell Reuters. One person says that the watch will "likely" have a 2.5-inch rectangular display, protruding slightly from the wristband in an arched shape. The device is also expected to have a touch interface, and be one of Apple's first products with wireless charging.
Apple allegedly aiming at 65 million iWatches by end of year
The Apple iWatch will ship in the third quarter of the year and be manufactured by Quanta Computer, claims Taiwan's Economic Daily News, as quoted by Digitimes. Two other companies, Richtek and TPK, will reportedly be supplying chips and sapphire touch panels. The watch's processor is expected to be developed by Apple, but manufactured by Samsung, which currently handles all iOS processor production. Apple is said to be aiming at having 65 million iWatches assembled by the end of 2014.
Sources also maintain existence of 12-inch iPad
Apple is planning to launch a Retina MacBook Air in the second half of 2014, alongside other updated MacBooks, Taiwanese supply chain sources claim. Although the MacBook Pro has had Retina options for a couple of years, the Air has been stuck with resolutions topping out at 1366x768 or 1440x900, depending on screen size. A Retina upgrade may be possible due to easier and/or cheaper production of Retina panels, and the need for Apple to keep the Air attractive next to Windows laptops with Retina-equivalent graphics.
HTC allegedly among poaching targets
Apple has been hiring "hundreds" of new engineers and supply chain managers in China and Taiwan, according to sources for the Wall Street Journal. In particular the company is said to be building up teams in Shanghai and Taipei to accelerate product development and ship a wider range of devices. The supply managers may be at least partly meant to cope with allegations of labor and safety abuses at supplier factories.
May iPhone launch would break with previous timetables
Apple is working on a "larger size" iPhone for May 2014, and a 12.9-inch iPad for October, supply chain sources tell DigiTimes. The new iPhone will allegedly be manufactured by TSMC, using a 20nm process. The iPad is reportedly being built by Quanta Computer; the sources suggest that while Apple has been deciding between 12.9- or 13.3-inch displays, 12.9 has a better chance of being selected.
Pilot production of iWatch allegedly underway
Taiwanese supplier Quanta Computer will be producing both the iWatch and a larger iPad for Apple in 2014, DigiTimes claims. The iWatch is said to be shipping first, in the second calendar quarter. Pilot production of the watch is allegedly already underway, but suffering low yields, resulting in the Q2 timeframe. Quanta is said to be competing with Foxconn and Inventec for orders, although only the first two have been officially invited into the supply chain.
Inventec, Quantec identified as manufacturers
The Apple iWatch is allegedly facing major yield rate problems in its supply chain, according to Taiwanese industry sources. The people suggest that the chain is currently only able to supply 30 to 40 percent of the order volumes Apple has been hoping for. The product's manufacturers -- at a ratio of 6:4 -- are thought to be Inventec and Quanta Computer. Expectations are that the iWatch will ship in the second half of 2014, at a price of about $149 to $229.
Apple could be worried about past difficulties
Apple may be planning to shift some of its iMac production from Quanta to Pegatron, a report claims. Quanta currently manufactures several Mac lines, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Some suppliers have allegedly been sending iMac components to Pegatron however, in spite of the firm normally only handling iPhone and iPad work for Apple. Even then, most iPhones and iPads are assembled by Foxconn.
11-, 13-inch systems allegedly being upgraded
Apple is currently preparing suppliers for the launch of a Retina MacBook Air in the third quarter, according to a Taiwanese publication, Economic Daily. The report suggests that both the 11- and 13-inch models will upgrade to Retina displays, at the same time switching internal architecture to Intel's Haswell platform. Apple supplier Quanta is expected to start receiving components sometime in the second quarter, which begins in April.
Pegatron agrees to Microsoft patent licensing
Pegatron on Wednesday became the latest company to reach a patent deal in Microsoft's Android licensing campaign. In a boilerplate statement, Microsoft said Pegatron would pay a royalty on every Android or Chrome OS device it manufactured. The two kept up Microsoft's typical request that the terms of the deal not be made public.
Intel Xeon E5 may have seen shipment spikes
New rumors floated Monday have raised the prospect of a possible shortage of Xeon E5-2600 processors. Taiwanese server designers purportedly told Digitimes that there was 20 percent less supply of Intel's workstation chip than for brisk orders, leading contract PC builder Quanta to push Intel for more. Most top computer builders plan to use the E5, and interest had been "higher than expected," the tip indiciated.
Amazon Kindle Fire spring update may be very cheap
Amazon may be hoping to shave even more costs on its possible spring Kindle Fire follow-up. Rumors Friday from suppliers given to China Times had it hand-picking which individual contractors it would use instead of giving a blanket deal with Quanta for the original. One of the new entrants might be contract manufacturing giant Foxconn (Hon Hai).
Fair Labor Association will inspect facilities
Pegatron, a Taiwan-based manufacturer that helps makes Apple's iPhones as well as numerous electronics for other companies, said it had not been informed of any pending inspections of factory work conditions prior to announcements from Apple and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) that it would audit Pegatron and Quanta Computer this spring. The statement by Apple also confirmed that FLA inspections have already begun for its principle supplier Foxconn.
Sources point to OEM deal
Toshiba and Lenovo have reportedly signed deals with contractor Quanta Computer for production of new tablets based on the Windows 8 on ARM architecture. Unnamed sources within the industry have told DigiTimes Quanta will handle the tablet production for both companies, with the first models expected to arrive on the market early next year.
Claims AMS sold faulty chips for NEC laptops
Contract manufacturer Quanta has filed suit against chip maker AMD. Taiwan-based Quanta alleges that AMD breached its contract by providing defective products that caused the computers, into which they were installed, to malfunction. The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, specifically identifies the problem as being rooted in NEC laptops.
RIM refused outside help from Amazon
RIM rejected an attempt from Amazon to buy it out this summer, leaks uncovered on Tuesday. Amazon had brought on an investment bank to explore the financials of a possible acquisition of the BlackBerry designer, Reuters heard, but was turned down. RIM executives instead wanted to solve the company's own problems and also thought that the company's poor recent performance might spook possible buyers.
Quanta Kindle Fire shipments may be 4m
Amazon's Kindle Fire shipments may already have hit five million if rumors are accurate. Quanta, known to be the contractor for the Android tablet, was said by Digitimes sources to have already moved three million to four million so far with another million either by the end of December or early January. Touchscreen panel builder Wintek has had to up its own production to between three million and 3.5 million, although it's likely not exclusive.
Kindle Fire 8.9 may be made to avoid iPad sizing
Amazon's rumored 8.9-inch Kindle Fire has been given a narrower release window and possible deliberate attempt to compete outside of Apple's space through a new claim early Monday. Although a 10.1-inch version of the Android tablet is still considered an option, only an 8.9-inch model has been picked and would ship near the end of the spring, Digitimes heard. LG Display and Samsung were pitching 8.9-inch panels to start, but the real goal was evade competition with "9.7-10.1-inch products," or the iPad and Android tablets from HTC, Samsung, and other majors.
Compal now gives Microsoft 50pc of ODMs licensed
Microsoft picked an unusual Sunday timeframe to reveal that it had struck a patent licensing deal with Compal. The deal will make Compal pay a royalty for every Android and Chrome OS device it makes under contract for others. As with every other deal from Microsoft, the exact terms weren't made public.
Microsoft and Quanta make patent deal
Microsoft continued its patent campaign against Android on Thursday by striking a licensing deal with contract device builder Quanta. The Taiwan firm will pay Microsoft keep making computers, smartphones, and tablets for other companies. A boilerplate statement from Microsoft didn't give terms other than to confirm the expected word that Quanta would pay royalties.
iPhones, iPads getting brunt of supplier focus
iPods are expected to account for only 7 percent of Apple's 2011 revenue, sources with Taiwanese component suppliers claim. The amount is small enough that firms in the iPod supply chain are allegedly shifting focus away to iPhones and iPads. Current orders for iPod parts are described as being "much weaker" than in past years.
Toshiba AT200 coming to US as it appears at FCC
Toshiba's 10.1-inch AT200 tablet introduced at the start of September has now showed up undergoing FCC testing. At just 7.7mm thick, it's also the thinnest Android tablet due out in the near future. The FCC documents have revealed that the device is actually built by Quanta for Toshiba, the same company that assembles the Kindle Fire and BlackBerry PlayBook.
Dell and HP ultrabook schedules pop up
More details of the ultrabooks from Dell and HP have poppoed up in a brief leak. The Dell model is now expected by Digitimes sources to have a 14-inch screen, making it one of the larger MacBook Air alternatives. Wistron would make the design and have it ready in time for Dell's customary CES introduction in January.
Amazon 10in Kindle Fire taken on by Foxconn early
Amazon's 10-inch version of the Kindle Fire could already be shipping from factories in late 2011 if supply chain reports from late Thursday are correct. Foxconn is purportedly taking on production of the larger model before the end of the year for "holiday-season demand," Digitimes said. It's unclear exactly when the tablet would go on sale.
Collins Stewart claims RIM ending PlayBook as-is
(Update: denied) Collins Stewart analyst John Vinh in a research note put forward a controversial claim that RIM was stopping BlackBerry PlayBook production. In addition to worker layoffs, RIM's supplier Quanta allegedly stopped production for all intents and purposes. "Due diligence" had also determined that RIM had stopped making additional tablet projects, he said.
China may see shakeup from wage and power issues
Chinese electronics suppliers may be facing an upheaval across multiple fronts. Part makers claimed that China's mandatory minimum wage hike on January 1 will create a "severe crisis"for the smaller outlets. Many of these have been operating on very thin margins and, combined with lowered sales, might have to declare bankruptcy, Digitimes said. Orders might end up consolidating at heavyweights such as Compal, Quanta, and Wistron.
Quanta said dropping PlayBook order sharply
RIM's steep drop-off in BlackBerry PlayBook shipments from the summer is carrying over into the fall, tipsters outlined on Wednesday. A "large decrease" in orders has reportedly seen contract manufacturer Quanta drop production to just 100,000 of the tablets each month, Digitimes said. The decline may have led to 1,000 layoffs at Quanta's factory for the PlayBook, or half the staff at the plant.
New CEO long familiar with manufacturing business
Sources with Apple's major suppliers -- including Quanta and Foxconn -- are not worried that Steve Jobs' resignation will affect orders, according to Digitimes. The sources remark that Apple's new CEO, former COO Tim Cook, was already responsible for handling the company's manufacturing dealings. The only real worry is the loss of brand recognition, and the potential impact on innovation unless Apple can find someone like its former icon, the sources say.
Samsung outsourcing in hints of HP hopes
Samsung might be grooming its notebook business in hopes of buying HP's spun-out PC business. Insiders in the part stream claimed Samsung was talking to Taiwan companies to outsource some notebook orders to companies like Compal, Pegatron, or Quanta in what could be the first step of handling HP's work. As HP moves over 40 million PCs a year, it would need those suppliers to keep production going, especially as Taiwan's suppliers are good at keeping costs under control, Digitimes was told.
Foxconn plans include 85m iPhones and Amazon
Foxconn's production plans could see it producing significantly higher iPhone counts as well as Amazon tablets. Supply chain insiders claimed Thursday that Foxconn is expected to make 80 million to 85 million iPhones per year. The Digitimes figures didn't say whether this was 2011 or 2012, but it may lead to Apple's first year with 100 million iPhones shipped, as Pegatron is expected to help out by making as many as 15 million more in a similar space of time.
Amazon tablets due in late summer
Amazon's two Android tablets have had their launch windows narrowed down to the end of summer. Part suppliers maintained Tuesday night that the previous "second half" target now expected it to ship as early as August or September. The production ramp would be timed to make sure Amazon hit its sales stride by Thanksgiving, Digitimes had heard.
MacBook Air Sandy Bridge narrowed to late June
An industry supplier leak on Tuesday narrowed down the launch of the new MacBook Air to late June. Taiwan's Economic Daily News backed up word of there being 380,000 units shipping in the first wave, 90 percent of which would be made by Quanta. Total production for the month would hit 460,000 units.
Amazon tablets get prices, history in leak
Further insight may have surfaced for Amazon's Coyote and Hollywood tablets with Taiwanese sources claiming Monday to know more about pricing and Amazon's original goals. The seven-inch Coyote is now targeted to cost $349 and could be one of the least expensive dual-core Tegra 2 tablets. The quad-core Tegra 3-based, 10-inch Hollywood would cost $449, PCMag said, hinting that the move to quad-core wouldn't carry any price premium.
MacBook Air Sandy Bridge put in June or July
Apple's upcoming Sandy Bridge-based MacBook Air has been pegged once more for the early summer. The ultraportable's shipments have been narrowed down to late May for a release in June or July. Apple's practices suggested the launch would be "considerably large" and outpace those with other computer builders, enough that Digitimes understood the supply chain was leaning primarily on Apple for success.
Amazon may show multiple Android tablets
Amazon's tablet plans could include more than one model at the same time. A "trustworthy" source immediately familiar with the project said Friday that an "entire family" of tablets was coming. Android and Me also understood that Pixel Qi's outdoor-friendly 3qi displays were candidates and that the software side had been contracted out to an "embedded systems company" using the most recent version Android by the time the tablets are ready.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hints at tablet coming
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in an interview later on Wednesday effectively confirmed plans for an Amazon-branded tablet. When asked, he used cautious language and said customers should "stay tuned" on what Amazon would do. He explained to Consumer Reports that the company would be "mindful" of keeping devices like the Kindle but couldn't confirm or deny what was coming down the pipeline.
Quanta said making tablet for Amazon
The rumored Amazon tablet is being made by contract manufacturer Quanta and should be available by the end of the year, part suppliers said Monday night. It would make as many as 700,000 to 800,000 of the tablets a month and could ship them as soon as the second half of the year. Digitimes was told Amazon would have a unique tie-in with its usual e-paper supplier: although E Ink would supply some display components, it would be giving just the fringe field switching technology used in LCDs and a touchscreen layer.
WebM Community Cross-License guards video patents
The WebM Project took a defensive measure on Monday with the creation of the WebM Community Cross-License. The approach will see 17 companies and groups give licenses to any WebM-related patents they have to other CCL members. Google, Matroska, and Xiph.org form the core but are joined by AMD, Cisco, Huawei, LG, Logitech, MIPS, Mozilla, Opera, Pantech, Quanta, Samsung, STMicro, TI, and Verisilicon.
Facebook Open Computing Project widesn server tech
Facebook at an event at its headquarters took a very different approach to servers by launching the Open Computing Project. The effort revolves a new, custom-designed server that's designed to be both easy to fix and very green. Each is easy to get into or remove, uses "unheard of" 94.5 percent efficient power supplies, and has 22 percent less material that not only removes unneeded parts like slots but goes "vanity-free," without even so much as paint.
New iMac screen, slight MacBook Pro rework tipped
Apple is planning refreshes of the iMac and MacBook Pro for the first half of 2011 that should include redesigns, part suppliers said Wednesday night. The iMac will reportedly get a "new panel size" and a "mainstream," presumably lower price to reach more users. Other details of the all-in-one weren't forthcoming from Digitimes' sources, although a jump to Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture for processors and newer graphics chips are both probable.
Toshiba to bring three different tablets to CES?
Toshiba is said to bring three new tablets to CES in January, with a release date to follow in the first quarter of the year, industry insiders reported today. While the PC maker itself didn't confirm this report, unnamed sources for Digitimes said the production of the computers will be outsourced to Quanta, Compal and Pegatron, all three of which are also based in Taiwan. Each will have a different OS, with the 11.6-inch model most likely to sport Windows 7 while the two 10.1-inch models will probably use Google's Android and Chrome OS.
Taiwanese computer makers refuse HP's orders
Notebook suppliers in Taiwan said no to HP's requests to produce low-profit orders, a Tuesday report claimed today. A Goldman Sachs analyst said Compal, Quanta and Wistron had turned down production of 2011 models as the gross margins were too thin to be acceptable. Quanta would also reduce its investment in Chongqing in mainland China, Digitimes also confirmed.
Quanta still making 500K 11.6-inch MacBook Airs
Taiwan contractor Quanta was said today to still be on track to produce 11.6-inch MacBook Air notebooks this year. Its production would still be modest at 400,000 to 500,000 systems before the end of 2010 and suggests that Apple still considers the system a premium or specialized model. The Digitimes tip didn't give more details.
Acer to have 3 Android slates but undecided
A rumor leaked out today suggests that Acer's plan for Android tablets may include a trio of Android 3.0-based models but that it's sitting on the fence with doubts about how it should enter the market. The Taiwan company is purportedly making five-inch, seven-inch and 10-inch tablets that would all use Google's next OS but DigiTimes said it's still deciding on whether or not it should use Qualcomm's Snapdragon or a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2, even with just a few months left to go. Part suppliers suggest Acer is even undecided on its choice of main contractor and has talked to Compal and Quanta without a commitment.
BlackPad due in November, to be built by Quanta
The upcoming BlackPad tablet from RIM will purportedly be manufactured by Taiwan's Quanta Computer. Digitimes reports that the device will be powered by Android, though this is unlikely as RIM has always used its proprietary operating systems. The report also has the tablet launching as early as November, or earlier than originally anticipated.
Acer to badge future ultra-thins as Gateways
Once Acer sells off its current 13- to 15-inch ultra-thin notebook inventory, it will sell new ones under its mainstream Gateway brand, according to a new rumor. The only exception will be the 11.6-inch Aspire Timeline and TimelineX series, both of which will remain under the Acer brand, said sources speaking to Digitimes. The first such model will be a 13.3-inch ultra-thin notebook, with a 14-inch expected to follow later.
MacBooks may get 8hr life, 640GB drives
Taiwan newspaper Apple Daily today claimed that new MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models are due to ship this month. Unnamed sources said the systems would use the mobile Core i3, i5 and i7 processors and that the 13- and 15-inch models would all get eight-hour battery life, up an hour from today. They would also get 640GB drive options with a 256GB SSD as an alternate.
Acer to bring out Calpella Slim notebooks
Acer is planning on releasing ultra-thin notebooks powered by Intel's Core i5 and Core i7 chips this spring. Less than an inch thick at some points, the notebooks will have 13-, 14- and 15-inch screens and be manufactured by Wistron and Quanta Computer. According to sources in the industry, once these models are released, Acer will drop prices of its current ultra-thin notebooks to further differentiate the two lines, with the new notebooks becoming the flagship.