Indications of iPhone launch as assembly line workers hired

Staff Writer
April 15, 2013

Hon Hai Precision has resumed hiring production-line workers after a postholiday freeze, the latest clue that Apple is gearing up for production of a new iPhone.

The Taiwan-based company, that trades under the name Foxconn Technology Group, said today it has added about 10,000 assembly-line workers a week in Zhengzhou, its major production facility for iPhones, since the last week of March.

A Foxconn spokesman declined to elaborate regarding production plans, only saying that the company will continue to expand its workforce in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou to meet seasonal demand from clients. But Foxconn executives familiar with the situation said the company has stepped up recruitment because it is preparing for production of the next iPhone.

“We have been very busy recently as we will start mass-producing the new iPhone soon,” said a Zhengzhou-based Foxconn executive who has direct knowledge of production plans.

Apple is expected to begin production of the next version of the smartphone in the second quarter of the year, people familiar with production plans said earlier this month. A less-expensive iPhone could also accompany the new model, reflecting Apple’s efforts to beat back competition from Samsung and other rivals.

Foxconn’s fortunes have been linked closely to Apple’s success in selling the iPhone, iPad and iPad Mini, but now it also feels the pressure of competition as Apple’s rivals continue to make a dent in smartphone and tablet-computer sales. Analysts attributed Foxconn’s lower-than-expected March revenue to softening demand for iPhones and iPads, but said monthly revenue is likely to pick up gradually starting in May, when the company is expected to increase production for the new iPhone.

The company has more than 1.4 million workers in China and it typically adjusts staffing according to the electronics production cycle, where demand usually picks up in the second quarter after a traditionally slow start to the year.

[via Wall Street Journal]

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