• Apple reportedly dubs the job cuts as "streamlining" instead of layoffs
  • The layoffs are "likely very small," Bloomberg and Insider reported
  • The iPhone maker has avoided mass layoffs through hiring freezes and cost management

Apple is finally joining other big tech giants in laying off employees after standing out from the rest for its strategies in avoiding mass workforce reductions. The layoffs are on a smaller scale but are placing the iPhone maker in the same standing as other tech companies that can no longer prevent job cuts due to the broader tech downturn in the past months.

A small number of people from Apple's corporate retail units are getting laid off, Bloomberg and Business Insider reported Monday. People familiar with the situation who requested anonymity told Bloomberg that affected jobs will be on development and preservation teams. The outlet also noted that the number of affected jobs is "likely very small."

Apple also told employees that the job cuts are not layoffs but are "streamlining" efforts that should help improve workflows in global stores, as per the reports. The exact number of workers that will be affected by the move is unclear.

Workers affected by the changes have been told to reapply for other positions across the company until the end of the week. For those who won't be able to find other Apple jobs to apply for, severance pay of up to four months will be provided, as reported by Bloomberg.

Some management positions will be affected as part of the "streamlining," according to the reports.

News of the full-time worker layoffs at Apple came about two weeks after Bloomberg reported that some of the big tech giant's employees would get their bonuses delayed due to the company's cost-cutting methods.

Instead of getting bonuses and promotions twice a year in April and October, some Apple teams would reportedly get bonuses and promotions only in October. The company has also decided to cut back on hiring, the outlet reported.

In mid-February, the New York Post's On The Money reported that the Cupertino-based tech company started laying off hundreds of contractors outright instead of waiting for contract expiration. One contractor told the outlet that he felt "blindsided" by the decision.

Other contractors reportedly said they felt they were treated as "second-class citizens" since they were not working on-site at the headquarters and were not eligible for either stock options or health insurance.

Late last year, Insider first broke the news on Apple's plans to suspend hiring until the end of 2023. Bloomberg later reported that the company was freezing hiring in some positions under its research and development department as part of cost-cutting measures. The outlet noted that the hiring pause would not affect teams under long-term initiatives, but most of the teams affected were those working on hardware and software engineering.

Apple's small-scale layoffs follow the pattern of other big tech giants Amazon, Meta, Microsoft and Google as the companies recently cut thousands of jobs, with Amazon's 27,000 job cuts making up the bulk of the layoffs. Meta is closing in with 21,000 positions lost, while Google is farther behind with 12,000 employees laid off. Microsoft is second to last after Apple with 10,000 jobs cut, as per The Verge.

Apple has avoided mass layoffs since the tech downturn last year saw its big tech peers resorting to widespread job cuts. As part of its efforts to prevent mass reductions, the majority of the company's teams have already moved to a once-a-year bonus and promotion schedule, Fortune reported.

The company has also implemented more hiring freezes across different divisions and reduced budgets. In a shareholders' meeting earlier in February, CEO Tim Cook told concerned shareholders that Apple was being careful with its spending.

"We're being very prudent and thoughtful on spending and we continue to be very deliberate when it comes to hiring," Cook said, even as the company continued to invest in "innovation."

Observers have noted unlike other big tech giants, Apple did not overhire during the pandemic, which could be another reason why it has avoided thousands in job cuts. Amazon, Meta, Microsoft and Alphabet all hired thousands of additional employees during the pandemic, as did other major tech companies such as Twitter and Snap.

Cook previously said layoffs were a "last resort kind of thing." In his Wall Street Journal interview in February, the Apple CEO acknowledged that the company was trying its best to manage costs "very tightly" and find other ways to reduce costs without letting thousands of workers go.

The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York
CEO Tim Cook previously said layoffs were a "last resort kind of thing." Reuters