Quanta Reportedly Supplying Apple With ‘Autonomous Driving Solutions’

While the status of Apple's electric vehicle plans are unclear at this point, hit-or-miss DigiTimes reports that Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer is currently supplying Apple with unspecified "autonomous driving solutions."

Tesla Autopilot illustration

An excerpt from the paywalled report, emphasis ours:
With the test of its autonomous vehicle, Quanta is now able to prove its ability in designing an autonomous driving platform, which is expected to assist the company to obtain more partnerships, said the sources, adding that Quanta is currently one of the suppliers of Google's and Apple's autonomous driving solutions.
Quanta recently confirmed that it has developed and tested its first autonomous vehicle on closed tracks in the United States, according to the report, allowing it to "prove its ability in designing an autonomous driving platform." Quanta did not reveal details of the vehicle or the tests.

While noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that a so-called "Apple Car" could launch by 2025, in line with various reports claiming that Apple has been developing an electric vehicle, other reports have suggested that Apple has been focused solely on underlying autonomous technologies and systems.

Quanta is best known as the primary assembler of the Apple Watch since 2015, but a separate DigiTimes report claimed that the company may stop assembling the Apple Watch in 2020 due to "profit concerns."

Related Roundup: Apple Car
Tag: Quanta

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Quanta Reportedly Likely to Stop Assembling the Apple Watch in 2020 Due to Profit Concerns

Quanta Computer will likely stop taking assembly orders for the Apple Watch at some point in 2020 due to profit concerns, and may sell its manufacturing plant in Changshu, China dedicated to assembling the wearable device, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese publication DigiTimes.


The full DigiTimes story is not yet available, but a paywalled preview reads as follows:
Quanta may stop assembly for ‌Apple Watch‌ in 2020, say sources:
Quanta Computer is likely to stop taking assembly orders for the ‌Apple Watch‌ next year due to profit concerns, and may sell its Changshu plant in China dedicated to assembling the wearable device, according to industry sources.
Quanta has been the primary manufacturer of the ‌Apple Watch‌ since the original model was released in 2015, while Compal Electronics reportedly became a secondary supplier starting with Series 4 models last year.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Apple’s New Mac Pro Won’t Be ‘Made in USA’ as Production Reportedly Moving to China

While the current Mac Pro has been manufactured in Texas since it was released in 2013, The Wall Street Journal reports that the new Mac Pro unveiled earlier this month will be assembled by Quanta Computer in China.


Quanta is said to be ramping up production of the new Mac Pro at a factory near Shanghai, and given lower wages and closer proximity to other Apple suppliers in Asia, the Chinese manufacturing is expected to cost Apple less than it would to make the computer in the United States.

Quanta already assembles some Apple products, including the Apple Watch. The shift to Chinese manufacturing would allow Apple to avoid many of the issues its U.S. suppliers have faced in assembling the Mac Pro stateside.

Here's a video of how the current Mac Pro is made in the United States:


In a statement, an Apple spokesperson said "final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process," adding that the new Mac Pro is designed and engineered in the United States and includes some U.S.-made components.

As a high-end, powerful workstation for professionals, the Mac Pro is not a high volume product for Apple, but where it is manufactured is notable given the ongoing trade war between the United States and China. President Donald Trump has urged U.S. companies to manufacture products domestically.

Trump's administration has increased tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese imports and he has threatened to impose tariffs on $300 billion more goods, including many Apple products. Apple has warned that these tariffs would reduce its economic contributions and threaten its global competitiveness.

The all-new Mac Pro is an absolute powerhouse with up to 28-core Intel Xeon processors, up to 1.5TB of ECC RAM, up to 4TB of SSD storage, up to AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo graphics with 64GB of HBM2 memory, and eight PCIe expansion slots for maximum performance, expansion, and configurability.

The new design includes a stainless steel frame with smooth handles and an aluminum housing that lifts off for 360-degree access to the entire system. The housing features a unique lattice pattern to maximize airflow.

Apple says the new Mac Pro will be released in the fall, starting at $5,999.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
Tags: China, Quanta
Buyer's Guide: Mac Pro (Don't Buy)

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Apple Investigating Report of Forced Student Labor at Chinese Factory

Apple today said it is "urgently investigating" a report that claims Apple Watch manufacturer Quanta Computer has subjected teenage students to illegal work conditions at its factory in the Chinese city of Chongqing.


"We are urgently investigating the report that student interns added in September are working overtime and night shifts," Apple said, in a statement issued to CNN. "We have zero tolerance for failure to comply with our standards and we ensure swift action and appropriate remediation if we discover code violations."

In a report last week, Hong Kong labor rights group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior said Quanta was "using significant numbers of student workers aged 16-19 years" to assemble the Apple Watch, with working conditions that do not comply with Chinese regulations or Apple's own standards.

Based on an investigation during the summer of 2018, SACOM found that many students were forced to complete internships at Quanta, or face the risk of delayed graduation. The internships were often unrelated to each student's field of study, and lacked an educational component, according to the findings.

"Our school told us that we will be deferred if we don't do the internship," said a student majoring in early education. "If we resign then we will also receive our graduation certificate half a year later than others."

The report also found that students were often illegally required to work at least a few hours of overtime per day and overnight shifts.

In its statement, Apple said it audited Quanta's factory in Chongqing three times between March and June, and found "no student interns working on Apple products at that time," but noted students may have been hired in September. Apple has promised to take appropriate action if it discovers any violations.

On its Supplier Responsibility website, Apple says it holds itself and its suppliers to the "highest standard" when it comes to human rights, environmental protections, and responsible business practices in the supply chain.

In its 2018 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, Apple said it has enforced a limit of "no more than 10% student workforce at a supplier facility." The report adds that suppliers can offer overtime "only on a voluntary basis" and factories must give employees "one full day of rest for every six days worked."

Last year, Apple and its largest manufacturer Foxconn confirmed instances of students working overtime to assemble the iPhone X, and both companies vowed to take remedial action. Apple said the overtime work was completed voluntarily, with proper compensation and benefits, but in violation of Foxconn's policy.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Quanta Said to Manufacture Apple’s Upcoming ‘Inexpensive Notebooks’ in September Quarter

Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta will fulfill orders for new "inexpensive notebooks" from Apple in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to DigiTimes, suggesting they could be released in September or October.


The report does not provide additional information about the notebooks, but two reliable sources in Bloomberg News reporter Mark Gurman and TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo both expect Apple to unveil at least one all-new, lower-priced notebook of some kind later this year.

It's unclear if the new notebook will be branded as a MacBook, MacBook Air, or otherwise. DigiTimes previously reported it will be a 13-inch model with a Retina display, but Gurman and Kuo have yet to support those claims. Gurman expects the notebook to have a starting price of $999 or less in the United States.

The widely rumored notebook could be the first MacBook Air with a Retina display, or it could be added to the MacBook lineup, but 12-inch models currently start at $1,299, so it's hard to envision where it would slot in at $999.

The current MacBook Air hasn't seen any substantial updates in over three years. Since that time, Apple has discontinued the 11-inch model, while the processor on the base 13-inch model received a minor bump in clock speed, but it's still a Broadwell chip from the 2014–2015 timeframe.

12-inch MacBook models were last updated in June 2017 with Intel's seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors and faster SSDs.

A few weeks ago, Taiwanese publication Economic Daily News said Apple's new entry-level notebook will be powered by Intel's eighth-generation Kaby Lake Refresh processors, which would make it significantly faster than the current MacBook Air, which is unsurprising given its four-year-old architecture.

While the entry-level notebook could be announced with a press release, it certainly appears that Apple has enough in its pipeline for an October event, where it could introduce new MacBooks, iMacs, and a Mac mini, an iPad Pro with Face ID, and perhaps some other surprises, such as a new Apple Pencil.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook
Tag: Quanta

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MacBook Pro Reportedly Won’t See Any Major Upgrades in 2018

Apple currently has no plans to make any major upgrades to its MacBook Pro lineup in 2018, according to DigiTimes. Of course, if accurate, the report doesn't rule out a MacBook Pro refresh or update of any kind this year.


An excerpt from the report, citing sources within Apple's supply chain:
The sources revealed that Foxconn had been aggressively working to land more MacBook orders from Apple during the past few years by offering attractive quotes. Since Apple has not had a major upgrade to its MacBook product line since the releases of its new MacBook Pro devices at the end of 2016 and has no plan for one in 2018, the US-based vendor is planning to shift orders for models that are already in mass production to Foxconn to save costs and reduce risks.
Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn could land a large number of additional MacBook orders this year, the report adds. The increase could come at the expense of Quanta Computer, which has been Apple's major MacBook supplier in recent years.

Taiwan-based Foxconn has reportedly been working to boost its chances of notebook orders from Apple by offering attractive quotes. Apple will therefore switch MacBook orders to Foxconn for models that are already in mass production as a way to save costs and reduce risks, according to the sources cited.
Foxconn is expected to begin mass shipments to fulfill the new orders in the second quarter of 2018, said the sources. Foxconn and Quanta both declined to comment on their clients or orders. The sources pointed out that Apple started outsourcing the assembly for some of MacBooks' components to Foxconn's plants in Shenzhen, China in the second half of 2017.
Despite the news, Quanta is expected to remain Apple's biggest supplier going into 2018. According to DigiTimes' research, out of 15 million MacBooks shipped to Apple a year, the shipment ratio between Quanta and Foxconn has been at around 8:2 for the past five years. Last year alone, Quanta had a 79.5 percent share and Foxconn took 20.5 percent.

Quanta is said to be looking to other brand vendors to offset the impact of the loss of orders, as it aims for similar growth to the market average in 2018. The Taiwan-based firm shipped 38.7 million notebooks last year, up five percent on year, and is currently the largest notebook supplier for HP, Apple, Acer, and Asus.

Quanta also maintains orders for the Apple Watch, and is said to be teaming up with Israeli-based augmented reality company Lumus to manufacture lenses for smart glasses. It's not clear if Quanta and Lumus are working with Apple on a future AR headset or smart glasses, but it is a possibility as rumors suggest Apple has a wearable augmented reality product in the works.

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro, Apple VR Project
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Caution)

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Supply Chain Hints at Apple Releasing Augmented Reality Headset No Later Than 2019

Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer, a primary assembler of the Apple Watch, has revealed that it is working on an augmented reality product for an undisclosed company that some industry observers believe is Apple.

Google Glass Enterprise Edition

Quanta's vice chairman C.C. Leung suggested the device will be a "headset-like gadget with a fully transparent lens that allows users to see through and interact with the environment," according to Nikkei Asian Review.

"Currently, we see such a device available in the market no later than the year 2019," he told reporters after the company's earnings conference.

Leung noted that if an augmented reality device could carry a price tag lower than $1,000, it would likely become a hit in the market, although it is unlikely he has any knowledge of Apple's pricing plans if they even exist yet.

Quanta is the second Apple supplier to mention involvement with an augmented reality product after fellow Taiwanese company Catcher Technology said it has been tapped to supply parts for an undisclosed wearable device.

Bloomberg was among the first to report on Apple's work on an augmented reality headset. It said Apple aims to have the technology ready by 2019, and could ship a finished product as early as 2020, which is a slightly longer timeline.

The headset's custom operating system, based on iOS, is reportedly dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system."

Apple hasn't finalized how users will control the headset and launch apps, but it is investigating touchscreens, Siri voice activation, and head gestures as it creates prototypes, the report said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook alluded to any headset being at least a few years away during a recent interview about augmented reality.

"Today I can tell you that the technology itself doesn't exist to do that in a quality way," Cook said. "We don't give a rats about being first, we want to be best in creating people's experiences. Something that you would see out in the market any time soon would not be something that any of us would be satisfied with."

Cook has repeatedly expressed a "profound interest" in augmented reality, which he favors over virtual reality. Apple's ARKit platform on iOS 11 enables developers to integrate augmented reality features into iPhone and iPad apps, potentially laying the foundation for what's to come.

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project

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