What's Up With Apple: MacBooks Unleashed, Foxconn Cars and More

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will “Unleash” its latest MacBook Pro machines at 10:00 a.m. PT Monday. The company is expected to launch new 14- and 16-inch laptops that include mini-LED displays, MagSafe chargers (the second time around) and, reportedly, the return of the HDMI port and an SD slot.

Bigger news is the introduction of upgraded M1 CPUs. As usual, no one is quite sure how Apple will designate the new chips, but Bloomberg’s Mark Gorman expects M1X for the 16-core graphics processing unit (GPU) and M1Z for the 32-core version.

9to5Mac cites a leaker who goes by the moniker of Dylandkt who predicts a new Mac mini with an M1X processor (this is widely believed among the Apple cognoscenti) and new AirPods. Version 3 of the AirPods will use the same design as the AirPods Pro version without the ear tips.

Apple’s main assembly partner, Foxconn, announced its first electric vehicles (EVs). The sport utility vehicles, sedans and a bus the Taiwan-based firm showed off were concept vehicles. Speculation has been rampant that Foxconn will be Apple’s manufacturing partner when the iPhone maker gets around to building a car. Perhaps in the Ohio plant Foxconn just acquired for $280 million (a massive bargain) from EV maker Lordstown Motors.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post, Foxconn’s first EV partner will be Taiwan’s Yulon Motors. Foxconn also has signed a manufacturing agreement with Fisker and Thailand’s state-owned conglomerate, PTT, along with development deals with Stellantis and Geely.

Apple’s automotive intentions are not clear. Will the world’s largest company build an actual car or only the software platform that connects all a car’s systems into a single super-CarPlay program? With a proven partner like Foxconn available to manufacture the cars, Apple may decide to go ahead with its own car. Still, a decision is likely to be years away.

Briefly Noted:

Janneke Parrish, a program manager at Apple, told Reuters on Thursday that she had been fired “for deleting material on company equipment while she was under investigation over the leaking of a company town hall to media.” Apple has denied the allegation.

The Financial Times reports that Apple has tripled its advertising market share in the six months since launching its App Transparency Tracking feature. Apple now displays two ads when people use the App Store search function and mobile marketing research firm Branch reckons that “Apple’s in-house business is now responsible for 58 per cent of all iPhone app downloads that result from clicking on an advert. A year ago, its share was 17 per cent.”

Finally, the BBC reports that Apple has removed the Quran Majeed app from its App Store in China, following a request from the Chinese government. Apple did not comment other than to refer questions to its stated policy that it is required to comply with local laws. The Chinese government did not comment either.