updated 10:58 pm EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Foxconn confirms massive hiring spree for production ramp-up
Taiwain's Economic Daily News, which has been on a spree of sometimes-dubious claims about the forthcoming new iPhone and possible additional models, is now reporting that Apple's alleged 4.7-inch "iPhone 6" model will begin production next week, with the supposed 5.5-inch model starting production in the second week of August for a later launch date. Foxconn has inadvertently supported the report by confirming plans to hire 100,000 new workers.
The timing of the latter confirmed announcement (which originally appeared at the end of June) doesn't really match up with the Economic Daily's time frame, unless Foxconn can hire and train 100,000 workers in a month. Also possible is that the extra workers are intended for the alleged second, and larger, version of the iPhone Apple has been rumored to be creating. The latter model -- which, unlike the 4.7-inch version, has yet to have any solid evidence emerge to confirm its existence -- has variously been claimed to have production problems, followed by solutions, that have conspired to delay its arrival until later in the holiday season or possibly pushed back into 2015.
Other rumors have said that the iPhone 6 has been in production for weeks in order to build a huge backlog to meet the frenzied initial demand when they are announced -- which is expected sometime in September. Reports from the Mesa, Arizona sapphire crystal plant allegedly being used to make sapphire glass for at least one model of iPhone has also said to have been working feverishly to meet demand for several months.
The production time frame offered by the Taiwanese paper still amounts to an educated guess - in order for an iPhone 6 to arrive in September or early October in sufficient quantity, production on it would have to begin now or in the near future. The additional influx of workers could help stockpile units for both the initial orders of new units as well as the preparations for holiday demand.
One rumor from the same newspaper claimed that Apple will not be using the "iPhone" branding on the 5.5-inch (or 5.6-inch, reporting has varied) device, potentially suggesting that the unit is not intended to be used as a phone and could be some wholly new device that happens to leverage many of the same components, just as the iPad does. The same paper has predicted that Apple will sell 65 million "iWatches" - the same number as it will iPhones - by the end of 2014.
Another report that the iPhone 6 production line will be largely automated due to 10,000 new robotic production tools being deployed at Foxconn factories would seem to contradict claims that the new hires are intended for the 4.7-inch "iPhone 6," however additional hiring by Apple supplier Pegatron suggests that even with some partial assembly by robots, human workers are still needed on a massive scale to cope with expected demand for Apple's next iPhone, iPad and possible other products, both in the short-term and throughout the holiday season.