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Apple’s losses, job security, Ive’s 2023 creation, and something for nothing!

Appleviews – 3rd February 2023

Apple, Jony Ive and the new Red Nose

Eyes down…

Apple is keeping me busy this year, that’s for sure. This week has proved no exception to that rule. I am writing today, with one eye being kept on the driveway, waiting for the lovely man to deliver my HomePod to me.

Head down, sleeves up…let’s get to it, shall we?

The results are in

Yesterday, Apple posted their financial results for the first fiscal quarter of this year, which actually represents the fourth calendar quarter of last year.

Wall Street analysts had been expecting a slowdown, and, it turns out they were right. Apple’s revenue was down approximately 5% year-over-year. Much of this down turn is blamed on the strikes, and lockdowns in China during that period.

Those disruptions led to supply issues for iPhone 14 Pro handsets in the run-up to the holiday season – obviously, a crucial period for them. There was also a dip in the sales of both wearables, and Macs, too.

Their declared revenue was $117.2 billion, compared to $123.9 billion in the same period last year. Gross margins reflected these postings, down from 43.8% previously, to 43% this time around.

Job security

Those results, obviously, lead us to wonder about job security.

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Apple has, so far, managed to buck the trend in the tech space, avoiding large-scale redundancies. CEO, Tim Cook, was asked directly about this yesterday in an Interview with WSJ (Wall Street Journal).

“I view layoffs as a last resort kind of thing. You can never say never. We want to manage costs in other ways to the degree that we can.”

Layoffs, it appears, can’t be ruled out completely then, but, they don’t appear to be at risk in the immediate future. A reduced headcount can be achieved in less aggressive ways, such as natural attrition, and not replacing people who leave the company.

A change of direction

So, one job that has been lost, is that of VP of industrial design – Evans Hankey.

She’ll clear her desk at Cupertino in the next few weeks, and when the door closes behind her, there will be a major shift within Apple’s management process. In the future, according to Bloombergs Mark Gurman, the team will report directly to the company’s operations chief Jeff Williams.

In a statement confirming Hankey’s departure, when the story first broke last fall, Apple stated;

“Apple’s design team brings together expert creatives from around the world and across many disciplines to imagine products that are undeniably Apple. The senior design team has strong leaders with decades of experience. Evans plans to stay on as we work through the transition, and we’d like to thank her for her leadership and contributions.”

It appears that Apple will, in this new era, plan to give key product designers larger roles within the team. Alan Dye will continue to lead Apple’s software design team.

Under Hankey, who replaced Jony Ive in 2019, Apple has changed their design signature. Gone are the slim at all costs designs that Ive loved – instead, function now takes precedence over form, as we saw the re-introduction of MagSafe, HDMI and the much missed SD card slots over recent releases.

Speaking of Ive, though…

The master’s latest creation

The services of design maestro, Jony Ive, have been recruited to create a new-look red nose, which will help celebrate this year’s Red Nose Day.

The annual UK telethon raises money for poor and disadvantaged people.

Ive has designed the nose to have a folding paper design that starts out as a small, flat crescent that springs into a honeycomb paper sphere when opened. It even comes in a very own, Ive’esque carry case. The nose is made from 95% plant-based materials.

The nose was launched by Red Nose creators Richard Curtis and Sir Lenny Henry, and in a statement about the nose, Ive said;

“We’ve grown up with Comic Relief and are proud to support their remarkable work. This new and seemingly simple Red Nose has been a fabulously complex little object to design and make and has involved our entire team. We hope it brings a little moment of joy to everyone who wears one.”

The nose is available from Amazon for £2.50.

A freebie

This week I made a video all about the very latest on Apple’s AR/VR headset. I had some exclusive renders made by Marcus and his team at Hyperware. If you fancy grabbing those renders for yourself, to use, feel free to grab them here.

Heard it on the grapevine

Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple is working on a major audio product range refresh.

According to a series of tweets that I spotted yesterday he tells us that, Apple supplier, Goertek has secured NPI (New Plant Introduction), and assembly orders for the ‌HomePod mini‌ 2, which will start mass shipments in 2H24.

In his tweets, Kuo believes that we will be getting not only the HomePod mini 2, but also AirPods Max 2, and an entry-level pair of AirPods.

That’s why then

With my HomePod due in the next hour or so, I had been wondering why, after two years, it looks exactly the same as its predecessor. Well, that has now been explained, in the law according to Apple!

Alice Chan, who is responsible for product marketing at Apple, this week, gave an interview to Men’s Journal. She discussed the thoughts behind the return of the ‘biggun’, saying that “we’ve heard more interest than ever for the acoustics of a richer, larger speaker.” 

In another interview, this time with Matthew Costello, who is Apple’s vice president of Hardware Engineering and Operations, was asked about the lack of a new design for the smart speaker. His answer to the TechCrunch journalist was;

“our teams really, really love this direction, in terms of the shape and the form. And we were able to create a wonderful system within that structure.”

And then, quizzed over the odd decision to use Wi-Fi 4 connectivity, instead of the later Wi-Fi 6 showing up in Apple’s other new devices. Costello’s reply was;

“HomePod features Wi-Fi 4 connectivity that allows us to target exactly what works best in the entire system. Making sure Siri requests are responsive, and ensuring a consistent experience for all you are listening to, controlling your smart home accessories and more — all while being energy efficient.”

Lastly, Costello addressed the issue that owners of the OG HomePod will not be able to make a stereo pair between the two generations of speaker;

“it’s important that the audio characteristics match for an optimal, balanced experience. The new HomePod delivers immersive, room-filling sound users love – with even more detail, clarity, and layers than the original HomePod — so we wanted the acoustical imaging to be as pure and consistent as possible from generation to generation.”

That’s explained that then!

Some good news

There are now two billion, active, Apple devices registered globally. Precisely one year ago, the number was 1.8 million. My rough maths tells me that means an additional 200,000 devices are now in use.

As I mentioned a little earlier, whilst iPhone, Mac, and wearables have seen a slowdown, Apple’s services division continues to do the company proud.

Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO, said that the company set an all-time revenue record of $20.8 billion in Services revenue for the quarter. Services include Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, and Apple One among others.

Oooh goodie – it’s Friday

…and I don’t say that because it’s Appleviews day, or because the weekend is just around the corner.

No, I’m excited it’s Friday because it means that the next episodes of Shrinking with Jason Segal, and Harrison Ford, and Truth Be Told, with Octavia Spencer air today on Apple TV+.

If you haven’t dipped in to these two Apple originals yet, can I highly recommend them.

Anyone for soccer

The Major League Soccer (MLS) season started 1st February, and Apple has teamed up with the MLS to announce MLS Season Pass. The pass is a subscription service available across more than 100 countries and regions worldwide. 

As Apple takes more of a steal on the sports market, soccer fans can now watch all MLS and League Cup matches, and hundreds of MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT games directly from the Apple TV app.

As ever with Apple, the coverage offered is extensive. Not only will you be able to watch live games, but also pregame and postgame analysis as well. The service will offers, highlights, full replays of classic matches, and documentary-style vignettes. Live games from February 25.

With that, I will pack away my pen and notepad, and totter off in to the distance for the weekend. I’ll be recording my free, members video newsletter later. It goes out every Sunday at 2pm UK. If fancy a bit of me over the weekend, subscribe via my website.

I’ll catch y’all Monday.

…oooh – was that the doorbell?

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