Supplier to Ship Two Apple iPhones in September


By Lorraine Luk and Ian Sherr

Apple Inc. has asked assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. to begin shipping both a new high-end and low-end iPhone in early September, people familiar with the matter said.

The shipping plans suggest consumers could soon have access to two new iPhone models, pointing to a strategy shift as Apple attempts to regain its momentum in the smartphone market. The company hasn’t previously announced different iPhone models around the same time.

Apple’s suppliers in Asia started mass-producing components in June for both a standard iPhone, featuring a metal casing, and a lower-cost version, people who work at those companies said.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Cupertino, Calilf., company has been unveiling new iPhones in the fall since 2011. It is planning a launch event on Sept. 10, according to AllThingsD, a news outlet that, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp. It isn’t clear whether Apple would launch both iPhones the same day or initially choose to showcase just one device.

New iPhones in the past have become available about a week and a half after their unveiling.

Competitors are planning to ramp up pressure by launching new products of their own around the same time.

Samsung Electronics Co., the largest smartphone maker in the world by shipments, is planning an event on Sept. 4, during which it plans to launch a new large-screen Galaxy Note phablet—or mobile device that has functions of a phone and a tablet—and a smartwatch called Galaxy Gear, people familiar with the matter have said.

Apple has been facing tough competition from Samsung and other firms making smartphones based on Google Inc.’s Android software. A perception that Apple’s pace of innovation has slowed, along with some uncharacteristic missteps by the company, helped push its shares down more than 40% in the span of six months from all-time highs of more than $700 in September. The company’s shares have since rebounded to above $500.


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(Published Aug 20, 2013, in The Wall Street Journal.)

Apple Stores Glow Less Brightly


By Ian Sherr and Joann S. Lublin

Apple Inc.’s search for a new head of its retail stores is dragging into its 10th month, at a time when the stores need extra attention: The company recently reported its first drop in store sales in at least four years.

In 2001, Apple changed the retail game when it threw open the doors to the Apple Store’s sleek and bright, modern interiors—completely different from electronics warehouses of the day stuffed with accessories and cords. The stores were temples for all things Apple, and destinations for early adopters.

But today, just as Apple’s products have become ubiquitous, the format of its stores has become commonplace.

The company has been reinstating spending and reversing policy decisions that were unpopular with customers during the six-month tenure of John Browett, who had been brought in to run Apple’s stores in April 2012. Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, has been heading up the stores since announcing Mr. Browett’s departure in October.

Apple’s search for a replacement, handled by recruiters Egon Zehnder International, has gone slowly, people familiar with the matter said, and the company has yet to settle on a finalist after interviewing several external candidates.

Among those interviewed but rejected as a poor fit were wireless and telecommunications-industry executives, one such person said. A CEO of a privately held retailer in France spurned Apple’s overtures, believing it would be hard to change Apple’s culture as an outsider, another person said.

Apple doesn’t consider internal candidates to be an option, according to a third person familiar with the matter.


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(Published Aug 2, 2013, in The Wall Street Journal.)