Longtime Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) manufacturing partner Foxconn appears to be gearing up for the iPhone 6, reportedly hiring up to 100,000 new employees, which supports rumors that the next iteration of Apple’s smartphone will launch this September.
According to a report by Taiwan’s Economic Daily News on Monday, the workforce increase is a boost of nearly 10 percent for Foxconn. The hiring boom shows Foxconn’s and Apple’s anticipation of the iPhone 6’s popularity. The current iPhone 5s broke sales records when it launched in September 2013, hitting an estimated 2.75 million units on the first day, and a record-breaking 9 million in the first three days. If the iPhone 6 follows suit, Foxconn will need the added manpower to meet customer demand.
Additionally, the iPhone 5 and 5s both had notably high retention numbers as 86 percent of iPhone 5s customers were upgrading from a previous-model iPhone, 83 percent for the iPhone 5. Considering that the iPhone 5 was a huge hit when it launched almost two years ago, the iPhone 6 should have a lot of consumers ready to upgrade when the device launches in September.
A Friday report stated that Apple’s sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies retrofitted a sapphire plant in Salam, Massachusetts, further indicating Apple’s high expectations for a September launch. The upgraded sapphire plant adds another 20 million-screen capacity to Apple’s already high 200 million-screen production capacity.
While much speculation about Apple’s sapphire production has it pegged for the TouchID system (supposedly being added to the next-generation iPad), the rear-iSight lens cover, or the rumored iWatch, Apple’s sapphire plants seem to have production capacity that matches what is coming out of China.
While Foxconn’s hiring may signal a push in iPhone production (Foxconn currently produces 70 percent of all iPhone orders, while Pegatron Corp. takes the remaining 30 percent), the rumored iWatch’s production may be the reasoning behind the uptick in hiring.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been teasing the media with veiled comments about the iWatch, or a “new product category,” for over a year, but little is actually known about Apple’s first wearable. As Foxconn produces both the iPhone and the iPad, the Chinese company could handle some or all of the iWatch production. However, a recent Reuters report suggests that Taiwan’s Quanta Computer Inc. will be in charge of manufacturing the iWatch.
Whether Foxconn will get a share of the iWatch production or not, it is clear with the added Chinese manpower that Apple is expecting some big sales numbers this fall.