Apple’s Delaying Products, Avoiding AI in Desperate Bid to Avoid Layoffs

Apple’s Delaying Products, Avoiding AI in Desperate Bid to Avoid Layoffs

Apple does not want to resort to layoffs, unlike many other major tech companies, which have been downsizing since around the turn of 2023. The tech giant is so desperate to not become another Google, Microsoft, or Meta (which thought 11,000 Meta staff layoffs were so nice that it did it twice) that it has put a hold on some major product releases, like a planned Homepod with in-built screen to allocate more resources to other projects. Any hopes of ChatGPT-like Apple AI powering your smart home will also probably have to wait.

This comes from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who in his latest newsletter reported that Apple is delaying a planned Homepod with a built-in screen to next year so it can redouble its efforts on other, more pressing projects. The letter doesn’t exactly spell out what those projects are. But in addition to product delays, Apple has tried to crack down on overzealous spending by some teams, even requiring that they seek approval from a senior VP for purchase requests.

Apple has quite a few big upcoming releases slated for 2023 and the coming years. It likely has its new M3 chip that will reportedly power a new iMac as well as a M2 Ultra-powered MacBook Pro and a 15-inch MacBook Air. Then there’s the damned mixed reality headset that has suffered delay after delay after delay. Apple VR may still come out this year, though it’s still a question of whether this release will make any splash in the market, especially considering its rumoured $US3,000 ($4,165) price tag. And of course, there’s still the highly-anticipated iPhone 15. As for next year, there’s plans for bigger and better screens on next year’s planned iPads.

Apple’s not working on an AI chatbot

As far as it goes, those projects seem to be on track. The fact that a next-gen Homepod is being marked out as delayable is interesting, considering how much Apple’s Siri has been taken to task recently for how outmoded it seems when compared to the hype surrounding ChatGPT and the implementation of AI chatbots into programs like Microsoft Office apps. Still, Gurman said that Apple simply isn’t working on any AI that’s “reminiscent” of current chatbots. The longtime Apple analyst said that nothing about ChatGPT came up at the company’s annual AI summit, though that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plans cooking deeper in the bowels of its Cupertino headquarters.

It’s common for Apple to avoid tech trends until it feels it can perfect them, but the economic downturn is also probably not encouraging any haste on this front, either.

Apple’s enforcing office time, hiring freezes

As for other ways the tech giant has tried to save money, Apple instituted a hiring freeze last year that heavily impacted the Cupertino company’s teams not working on future devices. Employees are also restricted in moving from department to department and from working at home. All staff are expected to come in three days in the middle of the week, at least. Gurman wrote based on unnamed internal sources that employees fear those who don’t start shuffling through the office doors most mornings could get the boot.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told The Wall Street Journal that layoffs were “a last resort kind of thing.” Still, the company has not ruled them out completely. As far as retail workers go, some have said that the company is no longer calling catching covid “special sick time,” forcing them to use normal sick time. Some workers said stores are no longer replacing staff when they leave, according to the report. Apple is hoping to ride out the economic downturn with its staff (somewhat) intact, but economic crystal balls are hardly, if ever, reliable. It may still have a long road ahead.