Foxconn Workers Express Concern Over Reduced Overtime

A couple of days ago, it was reported that the Fair Labor Association (FLA) had reached an agreement with Foxconn to reduce the maximum number of working hours for its employees at its Apple production factories.

Now, Reuters reports that Foxconn workers are concerned about the decision due to the potential it may have on their salaries. These concerns are raised despite the assurances that Foxconn will change its compensation packages to compensate for the loss of working hours.

Over the past several years, Foxconn has been criticized for working hours, but others have suggested that instead of excessive overtime made required by the company, many workers are requesting as much overtime they can get. Many of the workers who have moved far from their homes to work at Foxconn want to earn as much money as possible so they can go back home.

During the audits, the FLA also uncovered a number of issues at three Foxconn facilities where Apple products are assembled, including those related to health, safety and worker representation.

Vote on Nano-SIM Standard Delayed Due to Disagreements

Earlier this week, we reported that Apple was willing to offer a royalty-free licensing for its proposed next-generation “nano-SIM” cards for use in devices connecting to cellular networks. In addition, it was reported that a decision would occur last week.

Apple nano-SIM

Now, FOSS Patents notes that the European Telecommunications Standards Institutes (ETSI) has postponed any vote on selecting a standard due to various companies proposing designs as they continue to debate over the issue.

Apparently, Apple is also taking heat from other companies in the negotiations, with Research in Motion accusing Apple of hiding its efforts to gather the voting panel by having at least three of its employees re-register for voting purposes as representatives of various carriers. However, Apple’s proposal is supported by most of the carriers.

If Apple’s proposal is passed, this would supposedly allow the company to create even small and thinner devices. Apple’s prototype design, which is made by SIM maker Oberthur Technologies, looks similar to the existing micro-SIM card minus most of the plastic edging. The contacts are in the same configuration as current cards and potentially could be used in existing hardware if connected with an adapter.

Apple Chosen as Top Consumer Brand in Japan for First Time

Earlier this month, we reported that iPhone had become the top seller in Japan. According to the report, Apple had captured the largest share of mobile shipments in Japan.

Today, Apple was named the top consumer brand in Japan by Nikkei. In fact, this is the first time ever the company has been given that spot in Japan. The survey was conducted in November and December 2011 and included responses from more than 52,000 people aged 18 and older. Also, the consumer market category targeted 1,000 brands, and as well as a business market category for 500 brands.

According to Nikkei, Apple went from being number 11 in the country last year to the top stop dethroning Google from number 1. Wait, I thought Google is “winning”, no? In addition, the iPad and two other Apple products also made the list of top 40 brands.

So it seems that producing great quality products will produce great results.

World’s Largest Apple Store Yet Coming to Dalian, China?

M.I.C. gadget reports that Apple seems to be working on plans to open its largest retail store yet. The company has already started to advertise a forthcoming store in the main Century City shopping district of Dalian, China. The city has a population of 3.5 million people with over 6 million people in the region. A photo attached below shows a promotional sign in a shopping center saying that the forthcoming store will be the “world’s biggest”.

Apple Store D China sign

However, details regarding the upcoming Apple store remain unknown. For example, the exact size of its store. Surprisingly, some of the banners caused complaints from nearby shop owners. A security team was sent to knock over the displays that Apple has set up outside of Parkland Mall.

Currently, Apple’s largest retail store in the world, by square feet, is the Grand Central Terminal Store located in New York City. The store is 23,000 square feet and has an estimated 700,000 people passing by every day.

Fair Labor Association Reaches Agreement with Foxconn on Working Hours and Pay

Over the past month or so, Apple had been drawing a lot of flak for factory working conditions in its factories. In order to solve this issue, last month, Apple requested the Fair Labor Association to do an audit of Apple’s major China supplier Foxconn.

Today, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) has announced that it has come to an agreement with Foxconn to ensure stricter working hours and examination of salaries paid to works at the facilities. During the audit, the FLA also found many violations of both Chinese labor laws and FLA standards when it comes to working hours. It was revealed that average workload clocked in at over 60 hours during peak times. In addition, scenarios of unfair overtime pay were also discovered, with overtime payments only being made in 30-minute increments. Workers also received no pay for overtime work of up to 29 minutes, while workers putting in 30-59 minutes of work received pay for only 30 minutes’ worth of work.

The FLA also found several other issues during its audits, varying from health and safety to lack of worker union representation. Full details of the results of the FLA’s audits are available through the organization’s website. Also, the FLA will continue to monitor Apple’s and Foxconn’s efforts.

51% of American Households Own An Apple Product

A new conducted by CNBC reveals that there is an Apple product in over 55 million U.S. homes, and one in ten household that do not own an Apple product plan to make a purchase in the next year.

Apple CNBC survey

According to the survey, Apple products have a unique momentum has the average home as three such devices. In addition, income level is a strong indicator of Apple product ownership. 28 percent of those making under $30k/year own one, compared with 77 percent of those making more than $75,000. Higher earners own an average of about three Apple devices.

“It’s a fantastic business model — the more of our products you own, the more likely you are to buy more,” says Jay Campbell, a vice president of Hart Research Associates, which conducts the CNBC survey along with Bill McInturff. “Planned obsolescence has always been a part of the technology industries sales model, but Apple has taken it to a whole new level.”

63 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 34 reported that they were Apple users, which reflected  the answers of 35-to-49-year-olds. However, ownership of Apple products fell moving up the scale, with only half of 50 to 64 year olds and 26 percent of those aged 65 and up using an Apple product.

Apple products also seemed to be popular with children as over 61 percent of households with kids own at least one. This is 13 percent more than homes without 17 and under family members.

The poll was conducted between 19th-22nd of March and consisted of answers from 836 Americans and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Apple Offers Refunds to People Who Bought Its Latest iPad on Telstra’s Network in Australia

Earlier this morning, we reported that the Australian government had accused Apple of 4G marketing claims on the new iPad.

ABC News iPad tweet

Apparently the issue was raised by the company’s use of “4G” in its marketing terms for the WiFi + 4G/LTE models of the new iPad, while 4G LTE compatibility is only offered in the United and States and Canada due to different frequency bands used for LTE in different countries.

Now, ABCNews via a tweet has confirmed that Apple has agreed to offer a refund to people who bought its latest iPad, which it admits is not compatible with Telstra’s 4G network.

Australian Government Accuses Apple over 4G Marketing Claims on New iPad

One of the features Apple introduced with the latest generation of the iPad a couple of weeks ago was 4G/LTE capabilities. Today, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking Apple to court over “misleading” advertisements showing its latest iPad running at 4G speeds in Australia. Apparently the issue is raised by the company’s use of “4G” in its marketing terms for the WiFi + 4G/LTE models of the new iPad, while 4G LTE compatibility is only offered in the United States and Canada due to different frequency bands used for LTE in different countries.

Dye to Apple’s wrong use of 4G/LTE words, the ACCC has announced that it will pursue injunctions, fines and other remedies in its case. The commission wants to ensure that consumers “are made aware of the correct technical capabilities” of Apple’s new iPad. The company has posted fine print in several areas on its website regarding LTE connectivity not being available in most countries.

However, the ACCC thinks that this isn’t sufficient and that Apple should remove using the “4G” term in association with the iPad  in countries where the device is incompatible with LTE networks.

Apple nano-SIM Prototype Pictured

Ahead of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) decision regarding the proposals for future nano-SIM standard, Apple’s nano-SIM prototype has been pictured, reports The Verge.

Apple nano SIM Verge

According to the report, the  “fourth form factor (4FF) UICC,” or nano-SIM standard looks to cut down even more mass off the already tiny micro-SIM used by many handsets like the iPhone. This allows for larger batteries, more components and a slimmer design. The ETSI requires that the new nano-SIM card must have at least eight electrical contacts. However, the layout is up to company which is why the designs submitted by Apple, Nokia, and RIM have three unique designs.

Apple’s prototype design, which is made by SIM maker Oberthur Technologies, looks similar to the existing micro-SIM card minus most of the plastic edging. The contacts are in the same configuration as current cards and potentially could be used in existing hardware if connected with an adapter.

ETSI is scheduled to vote on which of the three designs will become the new standard at a meeting this Thursday.

Apple Offers Royalty-Free Patent Licenses to Approve Nano-SIM Standard

Last week, we reported that Apple was trying to go against rival smartphone makers over the next industry standard for miniaturized  SIM cards. Apple is suggesting its own nano-SIM proposal in Europe’s standards’ body, ETSI. The company is said to have already won over  support by ”most of the European operators”.

Today, FOSS Patents reports that it has seen a letter sent by Apple to the European Telecommunications Standards Institutes (ETSI) regarding a royalty-free license of its nano-SIM design patent should be adopted as the next-generation standard and holders of other patents related to the standard offer similar terms to ease adoption. Supposedly, this would allow Apple to create smaller and thinner devices.

A perfectly reliable source that I can’t disclose has shown me a letter dated March 19, 2012 that a senior Apple lawyer sent to ETSI. The letter addresses the primary concern of critics of the proposal. The FT said that “the Apple-led proposal has caused some concern among its rivals that the US group might eventually own the patents”. But Apple’s letter has removed this roadblock, if it ever was any, through an unequivocal commitment to grant royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents essential to nano-SIM, provided that Apple’s proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.

Motorola, Research In Motion, and Nokia are also said trying to push their own standards for these so-called “nano-SIM” cards. Nokia has raised objection about Apple’s use of a “drawer” to protect the nano-SIM card.