Technology

What's Up With Apple: Back to the Office, New MacBooks and AirPods, and More

Beginning in September, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will require most of its 147,000 employees to return to their offices three days a week. The company does not expect to have more than a scattering of 100% remote positions.

According to a report at 9to5Mac, Apple’s senior vice-president of retail and people, Deirdre O’Brien, said in an internal video that the company believes that “in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and future.” Earlier this month, CEO Tim Cook wrote to employees:

For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other. Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.

Yet, this so-called hybrid model brings its own problems and solving these is not an issue that calls for an edict from management, according to Harvard Business School professor Raj Choudhury, who has studied the effects of work-from-home at GitLab. He told CNBC:

The equilibrium comes down to what a team wants and less of what a company or individual wants. Let the team decide because every team needs to meet once in a while, but what frequency or schedule is best decided by the team. If every employee is making the choice for themself, there’s a risk teams are never together.

According to a report at Taiwanese website Economic Daily News cited at The Verge, Apple will, in fact, introduce new MacBooks and AirPods in the second half of this year. The website cites a “legal person” who estimates that MacBook shipments will rise by 15% this year to 23 million units.

Sales of AirPods, the source said, are expected to decline by 25% to 30% to 25 million to 30 million units in the first half of the year. New AirPods shipments in the second half of the year could lift the annual total to 55 million units, representing a year-over-year increase of 10% to 15%.

Apple’s spending on iCloud storage and services is expected to reach $300 million this year, according to a report at The Information cited by 9to5Mac. That’s a 50% increase year over year and makes Apple the largest customer of Google Cloud services. As the story notes: “[A]ll personal user data stored on Google’s servers is encrypted using keys owned exclusively by Apple so the security of a user’s data is really no different than if it was stored on wholly owned Apple servers.”

Apple rakes in an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion every year in exchange for making Google the default search engine on Apple products. Advantage, Google.