Rumors include June startup date, possible expansion plans
Photos and reports from tipsters indicate that Apple's forthcoming sapphire manufacturing plant may already be partially online as construction crews race to finish the building for a targeted June completion date. The building, which is very nondescript in appearance, is located in Mesa, Arizona and was built in a partnership with GT Advanced Technologies, the inventors of a process to manufacture nearly scratch-proof sapphire glass in larger quantities and at lower cost than had previously been available.
Company owns facility in AZ for future sapphire-making plant
Apple, which owns a manufacturing facility in Arizona to be used in the future for a key component-making factory, has voiced its opposition to the "turn away the gay" bill that has passed the Arizona legislature. The state -- long known for its inflammatory laws and actions against minorities -- passed a measure late last week that would legalize discrimination against gay people, provided the person or business owners had "strong religious views."
Speculation rises on document describing 'critical new sub-component'
While it was previously known that Apple was working on a new sapphire crystal manufacturing partnership in Mesa, Arizona in partnership with GT Advanced Technologies, thus far few details have emerged on what exactly Apple plans to do with the sapphire glass to be created by the plant. According to recently-published correspondence between Apple and Arizona regulators, the iPhone maker hopes to open the facility as early as next month.
Failure to create durable, cheap OLED panels forces partnership closure
Sony and Panasonic are dissolving their partnership for producing OLED televisions. The partnership, formed in June last year, was formed with the aim of sharing the costs of manufacturing the panels, something more expensive than other displays such as TFTs, though apparently a number of technology issues blighted the efforts and in turn forced the companies to go their separate ways.
Mechanical engineer listing requires skill associated with glass alloy
A job listing from Apple describing the need for a mechanical engineer with a wide knowledge of materials and manufacturing processes -- and some specific experience in skills required for dealing with the bulk-metallic glass alloy known as Liquidmetal -- has fuelled speculation that Apple's investment in the technology may be finally bearing more fruit. The technology is already used for specialized parts such as the SIM card ejector pin in older iPhone models, but very little has been seen of it thus far.
New line in South Korean factory to produce TV panels
LG Display is planning to boost its organic light emitting diode (OLED) efforts with a 706 billion won ($657 million) investment. The boost of cash will go towards an eighth-generation OLED TV panel manufacturing line at its P9 plant in Paju, South Korea, expanding its current manufacturing processes by a considerable amount.
CEO Tim Cook in attendance for speech
President Obama mentioned Apple's plan to bring some Macintosh manufacturing back to the US in his State of the Union message on Tuesday evening. Speaking before a joint gathering of Congress, the Supreme Court justices and other dignitaries, the President highlighted Apple, Intel, Ford and Caterpillar as some of the companies that are "bringing jobs back" from various countries. Apple CEO Tim Cook was in the audience as a guest of First Lady Michele Obama.
Output of 28nm SoC's to triple in 2013, chairman says
A prominent Taiwanese processor maker that is already supplying Apple and other companies with chips announced on Friday that it expects to be responsible for "almost all" 28-nanometer chips made in 2013, a startling prediction that has the industry buzzing that the company has secured a large-scale deal with the iPhone maker. The news from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company that its output of the processors will triple this year, along with a possible new US-based facility, leads analysts to suspect a further Apple connection.
Apple previously warned that units would see 'significant shortage'
A rumor from French Mac enthusiast site MacBidouille has insisted that on top of Apple's previous warning that the new iMac model announced last month would see "significant shortages," manufacturing difficulties may push the debut of the thinner, optical drive-less iMac models into 2013. Currently, Apple's US website continues to list the 21.5-inch model as available later this month, with the 27-inch model coming next month.
Candidates share their perspective on competing with China
Near the end of Tuesday's second Presidential Debate between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama, the two men were asked about how the US could "bring back" manufacturing jobs to America rather than have the majority of such work be done in countries such as China. True to form, the two men provided very different answers to the question, and illustrated many of their differences in their responses. Governor Romney focused on China's "cheating," while Obama said the real solution was not in low-skilled manufacturing jobs.
Apple, Foxconn to improve factory working conditions
Apple and controversial Chinese manufacturing partner Foxconn are said to be sharing the costs on improving work conditions at its Chinese factories. According to Reuters, Foxconn boss Terry Gou has spoken out on the matter, although he did not place a dollar figure on the investment or exactly where the money will be spent. The company has already raised worker wages by between 16 and 25 percent and has also added thousands more workers to its million-employee workforce to reduce the amount of overtime.
Panasonic shifts smartphone production offshore
In a sign of the times for the struggling Japanese tech giants, Panasonic is said to be offshoring all of its cellphone manufacturing. According to the Nikkei, the shift in production (sub. req.) could happen as soon as this summer, as the company looks to re-enter international markets over the coming fiscal year. Panasonic is aiming to get a competitive edge on manufacturing costs by having its cellphones made in China and Malaysia as currently half of its output is still produced domestically.
Move expands manufacturing, Chinese reach
Industry sources are reporting that former AMD manufacturing arm GlobalFoundries has agree to buy out ProMOS Technologies, a troubled RAM and chip manufacturer with facilities in Taichung, Taiwan. The move should help GlobalFoundries extend its influence with Chinese IC designers and other global companies that rely on integrated circuits but lack fabrication facilities of their own, DigiTimes reports.
Plan divulged during Obama's Intel tour
Intel CEO Paul Otellini has announced plans to construct a new factory in Arizona, a move that is expected to cost the company over $5 billion in investment. The expansion strategy, which was divulged during Obama's tour of Intel's research and manufacturing facilities in Portland, will be part of a larger plan that also involves adding 4,000 new employees this year.
Munster predicts 3G iPhone
In light of Apple's iPhone supply problems in New York, new evidence suggests that the issue is of a larger scale than initially thought. Gene Munster, senior analyst for Piper Jaffray recently called 20 Apple retail stores to confirm stock, and was met with the response that future shipments are uncertain. Munster estimates that the most likely reason for the shortage is the impending, but as of yet unconfirmed, upgrade to a 3G-based iPhone, with a slim chance of a manufacturing issue being a secondary explanation.
Representatives from Apple recently visited Brazil in attempts to gauge the feasibility of an iPhone introduction in the country, reports indicate. A number of hurdles to introduction exist, including a high smuggling rate (90% of iPods sold in the country are imported illegally), steep taxes and more. Portal Exame reports that in December, Apple sent its senior-manager of governmental affairs for Latin America, Susan Cronin, directly to Brasilia. According to sources, Apple plans to introduce the iPhone in Brazil and, given high-enough demand, start manufacturing devices there at a later date.
Intel CES photo highlights
Day one of CES 2008 draws to a close; earlier in the day, Intel formally announced its 45-nanometer Core 2 platform, based on the previously-announced Penryn architecture. The new chips offer a host of new features, such as SSE4, and up to 6MB of Level 2 Cache. Intel will release the new mobile-centric processors by the end of January, and will be available from a number of different PC vendors, such as Gateway and Sony. Intel's booth presence at CES 2008 is large, with several different areas dedicated to the manufacturing process, mobile applications, home theatre integration, and plenty of hands-on activity.