Trial production of Apple’s next-generation A6 mobile processor has begun, Taiwan Economic News reports. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has kicked off a test run of A6 chipsets — which could be 28-nanometer SoCs that feature dual or quad-cores and ARM-based architecture according to earlier reports — and Apple devices carrying the new chips are expected to be released in the second quarter next year at the earliest, according to multiple anonymous industry sources. Reports dating back to June suggested that Apple dumped Samsung following multiple patent disputes, and the company would instead utilize TSMC for production of its next-generation A6 processor. This new Taiwan Economic News report contradicts earlier rumors, however, which claimed that TSMC had begun its trial run of A6 chips last month. This could be a new test run, or earlier reports could have been misguided, of course. Taiwan-based TSMC is the world’s largest contract microchip manufacturer. More →
Hon Hai-owned manufacturing giant Foxconn intends to release a portion of its workforce in favor of 1 million new robot workers according to a new report. Xinhua News Agency said on Friday that Hon Hai chairman and founder Terry Gou confirmed the news, seemingly in callous fashion at an employee dance party. The new robots will be used to perform “simple and routine work” such as part assembly and welding. Foxconn currently employs approximately 1.2 million people and also utilizes 10,000 robots. According to the chairman’s reported comments, the number of robot workers will increase to 300,000 next year and 1 million in three years. It is unclear how much of Foxconn’s current workforce will be let go following the introduction of these new robots. Foxconn’s treatment of its workforce has garnered a great amount of attention following a string of employee suicides. More →
Pegatron has been awarded a new contract to build Apple’s next-generation iPad tablets, Taiwan Economic News reports. According to the report, Pegatron underbid Hon Hai for a new contract to manufacture the iPad 3, which will become available some time near the Thanksgiving holiday according to an earlier report. Hon Hai, owner of infamous Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn, manufactures Apple’s current-generation iPad 2 tablet along with a number of other Apple products. Pegatron is seemingly working hard to increase its production share of Apple devices, however; the Taiwan-based manufacturer reportedly also won an order from Apple to manufacture a total of 15 million iPhone 5 handsets. While Apple is shaking up its manufacturing partners according to the report, it will reportedly retain the majority of its component suppliers including TPK Holdings (touch panels), Simplo Technology and Dynapack International Technology (batteries), Largan Precision (camera lenses) and Foxconn Technology (outer casings).
Updated to reflect changes in source report.
Taiwan-based TPK Holdings Ltd. has been awarded a contract from Apple to supply between 70% and 80% of the touch panels for its upcoming fifth-generation iPhone, Taiwan Economic News reports. Referring to the next-generation smartphone as the “iPhone 4S,” the publication cites unnamed industry insiders with the report. TPK holdings is currently the world’s largest touch panel maker by volume, and is said to be the only manufacturer able to meet Apple’s steep quantity demands while maintaining consistent quality. TPK Holdings is already Apple’s top touch panel supplier and the unparalleled quality of Apple’s current touch experience makes the retention of its current No. 1 supplier a logical move. The Taiwan-based component manufacturer also supplies touch panels to HTC, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among others. Apple is expected to launch its fifth-generation iPhone handset this fall. More →
Cisco announced on Tuesday that it will layoff 9% of its workforce, or 6,500 jobs, in an effort to boost profits. That figure is lower than original speculation that the company would cut 10,000 employees. Cisco made the move as part of an effort to cut $1 billion in annual costs while spurring profit growth, Bloomberg reported. 2,100 of the 6,500 employees have agreed to an early-retirement program. Additionally, Cisco plans to sell a Juarez, Mexico-based manufacturing facility to Foxconn. The move will transfer 5,000 workers elsewhere but will not result in job cuts. Earlier this year, the company laid-off 550 additional employees when it announced that it was killing off its Flip camera arm in an effort to restructure its consumer business. More →
Shipments of Asustek’s popular Eee Pad Transformer tablet have surpassed 400,000 units per month according to a report from DigiTimes. The industry watcher cites anonymous sources at touchscreen display panel suppliers in claiming shipments are expected to grow even further in the third quarter, possibly reaching up to 500,000 units per month. ASUS reportedly hopes to ship between 4 million and 5 million tablets across all of its models during the second half of 2011, and almost 3 million units could be Transformers if DigiTimes’ report is accurate. Analysts at J.P. Morgan Chase claimed last month that sales were slowing and ASUS’ convertible tablet was overstocked in some channels, but this continued high production volume would certainly suggest that the opposite is in fact the case. The Eee Pad Transformer is a 10.1-inch Android 3.1 Honeycomb tablet with a dual-core Tegra 2 processor that ships with a full notebook-sized keyboard dock. The slate can be used on its own or docked so that its function more closely resembles that of a laptop computer. More →
Apple may have just hit Samsung where it hurts as the two companies continue their ongoing legal battles over patents. Apple, said to be the largest buyer of Samsung components, will not use Samsung to build its next-generation A6 processor, Reuters reports. Instead, Taiwan-based TSMC has reportedly been contracted to build the chip, which is expected to power Apple’s future iPhone and iPad devices. TSMC, the world’s largest contract microchip manufacturer, is said to have already begun test production of Apple’s A6 processor. Samsung currently builds the A5 processor used in Apple’s popular iPad 2 tablet and it owns numerous patents surrounding the chip’s design, including a patent that covers the processor’s the system design and memory packaging. The A5 chip is also expected to be included in Apple’s iPhone 5, which is expected to launch later this year. Should TSMC in fact be manufacturing Apple’s next-generation mobile CPU, it will likely feature a significant redesign in order to avoid potential patent complaints from Samsung. More →
Foxconn will be the only manufacturer to build the iPad this year, DigiTimes reported on Wednesday. There were reports earlier this week that suggested Apple had been in talks with either Pegatron or Quanta Computer as a second manufacturer in order to create enough units for the launch of a new model in September. However, Foxconn reportedly caught word of Apple’s discussions with other manufacturing outlets and was able to convince the Cupertino-based company to stick with one manufacturer… for now. Apple is expected to launch a new iPad with a higher resolution screen in September. According to rumors swirling around analyst circles and in the media, the new tablet will be dubbed the “iPad HD,” “iPad Pro,” or the “iPad 2 Plus.” More →
DigiTimes adds fuel to the fire Monday morning with a report that Apple is looking to add a second manufacturing partner for its popular iPad line of tablets in order to help meet demand when the company launches a new iPad model this fall. The report adds that either iPhone maker Pegatron Technology or Quanta Computer will likely gain the contract to build iPads alongside Foxconn. While the report refers to an “iPad 3″ that will launch later this year, it has become increasingly likely that the new model rumored to launch in September will be a complimentary iPad variant as opposed to a new model. Dubbed the “iPad 2 Plus” or “iPad HD” by analysts and the media, the high-end iPad is said to feature specs similar to the current iPad 2 but with a double-resolution display, among other things. According to DigiTimes’ report, the new iPad model will launch either late in the third quater or early in the fourth quarter, with third-quarter shipments expected to ramp up to 13 million units. More →
Apple’s manufacturing partners are slated to build 5 million iPad 2 units in July alone, DigiTimes reports. The new claim follows an earlier report stating Apple will ship between 12 million and 14 million iPad 2 tablets in the third quarter of 2011, doubling the Cupertino-based technology giant’s second-quarter shipment volume. DigiTimes claims Cando, Sintek Photronic, Chimei Innolux, TPK Holding and Wintek will combine to supply 5 million touch sensors this month, matching the volume they reportedly filled in June. Apple’s iPad 2 remins one of the best-selling consumer electronics devices on the market, and Apple may launch an updated version of the tablet later this year according to rumors. More →
Sony’s manufacturing partners will begin building the consumer electronics giant’s next-generation video game console toward the end of this year, with a launch scheduled for 2012, DigiTimes reports. Details surrounding Sony’s PlayStation 4 are very limited for the time being, but the report states that the new console will feature integrated movement-based controls similar to the Microsoft Kinect controller. Foxconn and Pegatron, the two manufacturing firms charged with assembling Sony’s PlayStation 3, will build the new console according to DigiTimes’ sources. 2012 shipment volume for the PS4 is said to be at least 20 million units. Sony’s PlayStation 4 was not expected to launch until 2013 or 2014, but with Nintendo’s Wii U launching next year and Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox due to be unveiled in 2012 as well, it is possible that Sony accelerated the new console’s development in order to remain competitive. Sony’s current PlayStation 3 console has sold more than 51 million units globally since its launch in November 2006. More →
Apple has reportedly placed an order for 15 million iPhone 5 units with Chinese electronic manufacturer Pegatron. Pegatron’s plants underwent a major expansion in 2010 and 2011 to accommodate Apple’s supply needs for the current iPhone 4 model, so the company had been seen as a likely candidate to receive orders for Apple’s next smartphone. Referring to the handset as both the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S, DigiTimes reports that shipments are scheduled to begin in September. The report also states that the upcoming iPhone refresh “does not seem to have any major update from iPhone 4.” Conflicting reports suggest that the next-generation iPhone could either be a major upgrade or an incremental update packed in the same case as the iPhone 4. More →
Taiwan-based component suppliers are beginning to prepare materials that will be assembled to build Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5 and iPad 3 devices, DigiTimes reports. The report goes on to state that Apple will unveil its fifth-generation smartphone and third-generation tablet in September ahead of launches in October. Details on the devices were scarce in the report, though it was mentioned that Apple’s next iPad may be even thinner and lighter than the current iPad 2 model, and it may also include a 250dpi display. DigiTimes cites anonymous industry sources in claiming that Apple intends to begin low-volume production of the iPhone 5 in August, and production will then ramp up in September. IPhone supply volume is expected to total 24-25 million units in the third quarter, 6-7 million of which will be the new iPhone 5 model. Total iPhone volume for 2011 is expected to reach 85 million, and DigiTimes says iPad volume may break the 40 million-unit mark. More →