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Are prolonged chip shortages pushing Apple to cut iPhone production? – TechHQ

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Sources are claiming that the tech giant is cutting back its iPhone production by 10 million.

14 October 2021 | 1 Shares

Dashveenjit Kaur

Customers buy newly-launched iPhone 13 mobile phones at an Apple store in Hangzhou, in China’s eastern Zhejiang province on September 24, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT

  • The chip shortages could just leave hundreds of people waiting to get their hands on the new iPhone 13
  • Apple expected to produce 90 million new iPhone models in the last three months of the year — but that might change
  • The reduction is attributed to Broadcom Inc.’ and Texas Instruments Inc.’s difficulties to deliver enough components

Apple Inc. launched its latest iPhone 13 handset and other affiliated products last month. But like every iPhone launch, there is an inevitable waiting period, a signal of good demand for Apple. However this year, the picture is a little different. The wait time expected for any iPhone 13 model has been prolonged ever since the phone was launched, due to lingering and persistent global chip shortages.

And to top it off, industry watchers reckon it’s only going to get worse. Analysts at Credit Suisse said recently that the wait times for the iPhone 13 family of devices remain extended across the board. Customers who want the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have to wait in excess of four weeks, the longest wait period in at least four years, noted the team at the Swiss bank.

Seems like chip shortages spare no one sometimes, even the world’s largest chip buyer, Apple.

The gap between ordering a chip and delivery hit a record 21.7 weeks. Source: Susquehanna Financial Group

For context, the analysts’ methodology for calculating waiting periods involved measuring shipping lead times for iPhones purchased directly from Apple online stores, in major markets around the world. They exclude demand through Apple’s physical stores, as well as distribution via carriers and other retail avenues.

Meanwhile, the wait time for iPhone 13 is currently at two to four weeks, the analysts noted, and will remain similar or grow modestly longer over time. Historically, wait times have been viewed as an indicator of demand for devices and now, the company is even struggling to make enough of the Apple Watch Series 7 and other products.  

Indeed, the situation is much more complicated this time around, as the world is gripped by supply-chain issues. Consensus claims that wait times for some Apple product models are at multi-year records.

Are the prolonged chip shortages causing delays?

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple has been forced to cut its production order of the iPhone 13 by 11% (10 million units) due to the ongoing global chip shortage. “Apple is likely to slash its projected iPhone 13 production targets for 2021 by as many as 10 million units as prolonged chip shortages hit its flagship product, according to people with knowledge of the matter.,” the report claims.

To recall, the company had expected to produce 90 million new iPhone models in the last three months of 2021, but Bloomberg highlighted how Apple is telling manufacturing partners that the total will be lower, because Broadcom Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc. are struggling to deliver enough components.

Texas Instruments is where Apple gets its displays from, while Broadcom is its longtime supplier of wireless components. “One TI chip in short supply for the latest iPhones is related to powering the OLED display. Apple also is facing component shortages from other suppliers,” the report reads.

Chip shortages aren’t the only factor in the supply hiccups being faced by Apple. A recent Nikkei report claims that Apple suppliers in China are scrambling to keep production on track ahead of the busy holiday season due to widespread power outages in the country.

The source who spoke to Nikkei said power outages had been sporadic since mid-September, until they began getting notices every week telling them which days the following week that power would be cut. Apple suppliers have reportedly already warned that power cuts threaten supply chain continuity, but concerns have grown that the disruption will last until the end of the year — or worse, longer.

Dashveenjit Kaur

14 October 2021

14 October 2021

13 October 2021

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Facebook ‘planning to rebrand company’ with new name – Al Jazeera English

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CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about the name change at its annual conference on October 28, but it could be sooner.

Social media giant Facebook Inc is planning to rebrand itself with a new name next week, American technology blog the Verge reported on Tuesday, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about the name change at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28, but it could be unveiled sooner, the Verge reported.

In response, Facebook said it does not comment on “rumour or speculation”.

The news comes at a time when the company is facing increasing government scrutiny in the United States over its business practices.

Legislators from both parties have excoriated the company, illustrating the rising anger in Congress with Facebook.

‘A metaverse company’

The rebranding would position Facebook’s social media app as one of many products under a parent company, which will also oversee groups like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and more, the Verge report added.

It is not uncommon in Silicon Valley for companies to change their names as they bid to expand their services.

Google established Alphabet Inc as a holding company in 2015 to expand beyond its search and advertising businesses, to oversee various other ventures ranging from its autonomous vehicle unit and health technology to providing internet services in remote areas.

The move to rebrand will also reflect Facebook’s focus on building the so-called metaverse, an online world where people can use different devices to move and communicate in a virtual environment, according to the report.

Facebook has invested heavily in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) and intends to connect its nearly three billion users through several devices and apps. On Tuesday, the company announced plans to create 10,000 jobs in the European Union over the next five years to help build the metaverse.

Zuckerberg has been talking up metaverse since July when he said that the key to Facebook’s future lies with the metaverse concept – the idea that users will live, work and exercise inside a virtual universe. The company’s Oculus virtual reality headsets and service are an instrumental part of realizing that vision.

“In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company,” Zuckerberg said at the time. “In many ways, the metaverse is the ultimate expression of social technology.”

The buzzy word, first coined in a dystopian novel three decades earlier, has been referenced by other tech firms such as Microsoft.

The Verge report said a possible name for the company could have something to do with Horizon. Recently, Facebook renamed its in-development VR gaming platform named ‘Horizon’’to “Horizon Worlds”.

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Apple's voice-only Music subscription could boost Siri's accent understanding – TechCrunch

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Apple had a slew of interesting announcements at its event on Monday. But one that stood out to me — and I feel didn’t get as much attention — is the new pricing tier of Apple Music. A new “Voice” tier will offer the entire Apple Music library to subscribers at a reduced rate of just $5 per month: The catch is you have to use Siri to access it, eschewing the standard Apple Music visual and typing-friendly in-app user interface.

Apple didn’t share why it is launching this plan, but I think it’s reasonable to speculate that the iPhone-maker is lowering the price barrier and persuading more people to use Siri because it wants to gather more voice data to train and improve its voice assistant.

“We’re excited that even more people will be able to enjoy Apple Music simply with their voice,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said at the event.

I can’t imagine any other compelling reason why the Apple Music Voice plan exists, especially since Apple is likely offering the new service with much lower margins than the standard plan, as the licensing agreements with labels remain the same to offer up the entire Apple Music catalog.

Again, this is just speculation, but I think given the stiff competition between Apple and Spotify, if the Swedish firm could offer its streaming service at $7-8 a month to beat Apple Music at price, it would. And Apple is taking some loss with the new subscription tier because it really wants to gather vast amounts of data. When I tweeted this theory, my colleague Alex wondered aloud why wouldn’t Apple just make the subscription free? I suppose Apple, a $2.5 trillion company, can technically swallow that much of a hit on the balance sheet, but it doesn’t want to attract more criticism from standalone music streaming firms such as Spotify. It’s already facing scrutiny for anti-competitive behavior on a number of fronts.

Tech firms feed their AI models with vast amounts of data to improve the services’ capabilities. Even as Siri has considerably improved over the years, the general consensus among many people who work in tech and the masses alike is that Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are far superior.

It’s likely that Apple has already been gleaning such voice data from existing Apple Music users, but as a friend suggested, “the point is this — this feature always existed. It’s just that they’d put a high paywall. They’ve lowered that wall now.” In addition to lowering the barrier to entry, making Music voice-only via the new plan means people have to engage with Siri to make use of it; Siri is a feature for standard Apple Music subscribers, but it’s highly likely that most users primarily or exclusively access the content via the app’s UI.

If you want an example of what can happen to voice-powered assistants when you require that users treat it as a voice-first or voice-only service, look at Amazon’s Alexa. Out of the gate, Alexa had to be accessed by voice. This allowed Amazon to not only collect massive amounts of training data for its Alexa algorithms, but also helped train users about how to use it to maximum effect.

Understanding accents and dialects

Another reason why I think my theory works is the markets where Apple plans to offer this new subscription tier first: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Having India, Spain, Ireland and France in the first wave of nations suggests that Apple is looking to amass a wide-range of dialects and accents from across the globe. On a side note, voice search is very popular in many markets, including developing nations such as India, and in markets like China and Japan where text input can sometimes be unnecessarily complex versus spoken word. (A Google executive told me once that the surprising mass adoption of voice searches in India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market and where Android commands about 98% of the pie, helped the company improve Google Assistant and prompted more aggressive approach to innovate on the voice front.)

Siri is often framed as a bit of a laggard in terms of its competence versus the rest of the voice assistant competition, and Apple’s latest move in services could be an attempt to help it close the perceived gap, while offering customers a discounted way to onboard to its music streaming service.

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PSA: the MacBook Pro 14-inch’s $20 power brick upsell is probably worth it – The Verge

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If you’re looking at buying the $1,999 base model MacBook Pro 14-inch, there’s one upgrade that you may really want to make — the $20 one that gets you the 96W power adapter instead of the 67W included power adapter. That’s because, according to some wording on Apple’s MacBook Pro configuration page (spotted by MacRumors), you’ll need the more powerful charger if you want to take advantage of the computer’s fast charging feature, which can charge the laptop up to 50 percent in half an hour.

Is it ridiculous that Apple is basically taxing the people who want to buy its least expensive (but still very pricey!) new MacBook Pro? Yes, absolutely — but you should still probably pay it if you want to charge your laptop up quickly. The exception is if you already have a charging brick capable of 100W USB-PD power delivery: Apple tells The Verge that you can fast charge via Thunderbolt as long as your power brick provides enough power. If you already have a beefy power brick, you can skip the upsell.

I know it probably doesn’t feel great to encourage Apple’s nickel-and-diming, but if you want fast charging, this will likely be the best way to get it. There may be, somewhere in the world, a 100W USB-PD charging brick that sells for $20, but there’s no way I would trust it enough to charge a very expensive computer. (If it was $20, I might not even trust it not to burn down my house). I’d pick the upsell.

The one silver lining is that this is only a problem on the base 8 CPU core / 14 GPU core model — if you do any processor upgrades, you’ll get the 96W brick for “free.” Please note, though, that upgrading just the RAM and/or storage on the base MacBook Pro won’t get you that upgrade, but if you’re in the configuration screen anyways, you should absolutely check that box unless you hate fast charging.

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