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Apple restricting employee vacations as first 2011 products loom

post #1 of 86
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Apple is quietly prohibiting vacation days for some retail employees for three weeks beginning later this month, a move that could foreshadow a significant product introduction in the coming weeks, AppleInsider has learned.

People familiar with the company's retail plans say Apple has issued a "blackout" period spanning three weeks, during which retail employees without seniority will not be allowed vacation time. That blackout period is said to begin the last week of January and continue into the first half of February.

Prohibiting vacations during such a large span of time is typically indicative of a major product launch, such as a new iPhone, according to people familiar with past retail blackouts. At the same time, however, they admitted to having no specific knowledge of what Apple could be planning this time around.

Meanwhile, Apple is also said to have retained its overstaffed holiday personnel at many retail stores, even with the annual shopping season now concluded. While a gradual drawdown of temporary employees remains inevitable at some point, it appears the company is keeping staff on-hand at some stores, perhaps in preparation for a new product launch.

One person familiar with the company's retail operations said last month that managers initially became "reluctant" to offer employees days off for the entire month of January. It was only more recently the company went a step further and began preventing employee vacations during the apparent three-week span in late January and early February.

Apple Store Fifth Avenue, New York

Word from AppleInsider's own contacts corroborates with details also heard by Gary Allen of ifoAppleStore.com, offering a strong indication that Apple expects a popular product -- or perhaps even multiple products -- to be introduced in later this month or early next month.

As usual, Apple's retail employees have no idea what the launch could be, though their employer does have a number of products due for a refresh, including MacBook Pros and the iPad. But the event likely to generate the most interest, buzz and sales is the rumored-to-be-impending launch of a Verizon-compatible, CDMA iPhone.

Given the numerous reports pointing toward an early 2011 launch, a CDMA iPhone for Verizon's network could be considered the most likely candidate for the coming weeks. Last June, Bloomberg reported that the iPhone would debut on Verizon in January 2011, and numerous mainstream publications -- including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Fortune -- followed up with independent confirmation of a similar early 2011 launch timeframe.

Another strong possibility is Apple's second-generation iPad, expected to launch in the first calendar quarter of 2011. As reported by AppleInsider last September, Apple plans to move aggressively and introduce its next iPad less than a year after the first one debuted -- or much more quickly than its typical 12-14 month cycle. The rapid turnover is said to be part of an effort to push its FaceTime video chat standard with the release of a camera-equipped touchscreen tablet ahead of some of its largest competitors in the mobile space.

The late January, early February timeframe could also coincide with the introduction of new Macs. With the Consumer Electronics Show this week, Intel has shown off its new Core processor family known as Sandy Bridge -- a product line set to end up in Apple's future Macs. The most recent major upgrade to Apple's line of MacBook Pro models came last April, when the high-end notebooks were equipped with Intel's latest Core i5 and Core i7 processors.
post #2 of 86
I would love it if they refreshed the Macbook Pro this early in the year. I've been waiting for them to do that so I can finally upgrade from my old Powerbook.

However, the Verizon iPhone or the new iPad seem like more likely choices IF there's no special event planned soon.
post #3 of 86
Ya just gotta love retail.
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post #4 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple is quietly prohibiting vacation days for some retail employees for three weeks beginning later this month...

One possible indicator of which product line is involved would be whether the prohibition is being applied outside the U.S. as well. Any Insider word addressing that question?
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post #5 of 86
If a new iPad is part of this scenario, there is no way they would launch it without a special event up in Cupertino. The CDMA phone may be left to Verizon to announce (perhaps at CES) unless it's a new 5 model, which is most unlikely.
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post #6 of 86
This does seem compelling evidence, if the sources are reliable.

My bet is a CDMA iPhone. I really cannot see the wisdom in releasing an iPad2 so soon after millions have just had an iPad under the Christmas tree. That would be hard for even a dedicated Apple fan to stomach.

The same could be said of an iPhone but I think AT&T might easily have asked for one last holiday season as the sole iPhone trader. Holiday season over, get the new phone out ASAP.

I live in the UK, so I couldn't care less about this personally, but I do hope Apple can eat into Android's Verizon share. I just don't like what Android is in danger of representing.
post #7 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post

One possible indicator of which product line is involved would be whether the prohibition is being applied outside the U.S. as well. Any Insider word addressing that question?

I would agree with you initially but....Does Apple ever launch products simultaneously in the US and let's say europe??? The iPad was only available in the US for months before it was available in any other country. I especially know because I was working at the apple store during the ipad launch and there would be tons upon tons of people from europe and asia in the store buying iPads.
post #8 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post

This does seem compelling evidence, if the sources are reliable.

My bet is a CDMA iPhone. I really cannot see the wisdom in releasing an iPad2 so soon after millions have just had an iPad under the Christmas tree. That would be hard for even a dedicated Apple fan to stomach.

The same could be said of an iPhone but I think AT&T might easily have asked for one last holiday season as the sole iPhone trader. Holiday season over, get the new phone out ASAP.

I live in the UK, so I couldn't care less about this personally, but I do hope Apple can eat into Android's Verizon share. I just don't like what Android is in danger of representing.

New desktops/laptops options? Or better yet, a new server line up.
post #9 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post

...I really cannot see the wisdom in releasing an iPad2 so soon after millions have just had an iPad under the Christmas tree. That would be hard for even a dedicated Apple fan to stomach.

To counter that, there are millions (??) that held off getting an iPad for Christmas for exactly that reason!

For Christmas, I gave an iPad to my significant-other by photocopying an iPad picture and taping it to an unopened ream of paper and wrapping it up. She was surprised for a moment, but she totally understood why I didn't buy her the real deal just yet.

She waited in line with me at the San Francisco Apple store for hours when the iP4 came out, and the payback would be for me to wait in line with her when the iPad2 comes out. She is happily waiting.

I'm buying two of them... delayed Christmas for us!
post #10 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post

My bet is a CDMA iPhone. I really cannot see the wisdom in releasing an iPad2 so soon after millions have just had an iPad under the Christmas tree. That would be hard for even a dedicated Apple fan to stomach.

I cant recall a year that Apple didnt announce new products in January.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TechManMike View Post

I would agree with you initially but....Does Apple ever launch products simultaneously in the US and let's say europe???

I think most of the time products are launched in the US and some other countries on the same day.
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post #11 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple is quietly prohibiting vacation days for some retail employees for three weeks beginning later this month, ...

An extremely easy way to check if this is the CDMA iPhone would be to check the stores in Canada, where such an item would hardly sell at all. I don't suppose anyone down in the US of A has thought of that?

edit: IQatEdo beat me to this obvious point.
post #12 of 86
I'm guessing it is the Verizon iPhone. Leaks are coming out left and right of the new hardware (referred to as iPhone 5). I don't think they would prevent vacations if it was a desktop or laptop refresh. Last time I checked, people don't line up for those. It would be nice to get this Verizon iPhone out of the way so we can start speculating on rumors about the next iProduct!
post #13 of 86
Another rumor that I heard was that Apple is giving three extra vacation days to their full time staff as their 'holiday bonus' but they can only use them in the months of January and February.

So maybe that is the reason for not wanting to give a ton of time off requests to the 'lower' staff. Especially at stores where some of the holiday staff may have left on their own for school etc.

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #14 of 86
I'm predicting an iPad 2 event, with either the CDMA iPhone thrown in and then a "one more thing..." or the Verizon iPhone will be the one more thing. I think Jobs would love to make the Verizon iPhone the "one more thing..." but I don't know what they could have ready to go between the iPads and the Verizon iPhone. Maybe an iOS 5 preview? Or the MacBook Pro refresh has potential, especially with the announcement of the Sandy Bridge processors.
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post #15 of 86
I agree that a new iPad would be too soon. The iPhone 5 would also be too soon.

But a CDMA iPhone 4 with a revised antenna, perhaps available in white, would be right on time.
post #16 of 86
Too early for iPad 2 or iPhone 5.

It might be for a CDMA iPhone, but I'm still doubting the existence of a production-grade design.

The most likely products in an announcement this month would be MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Another possibility is the iPhone on T-Mobile USA.
post #17 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by TechManMike View Post

I would agree with you initially but....Does Apple ever launch products simultaneously in the US and let's say europe??? The iPad was only available in the US for months before it was available in any other country. I especially know because I was working at the apple store during the ipad launch and there would be tons upon tons of people from europe and asia in the store buying iPads.

Point taken. \
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post #18 of 86
A friend of mine works for an Apple Store, and told me that staff was informed that their sales TARGET for IPhones was TRIPLED for January over what it was originally going to be.
post #19 of 86
There are really only two things that would generate such demand upon release that Apple would have to nix vacations for its retail employees: the Verizon iPhone and the iPad 2. It's too early for the iPad 2 so it's gotta be the CDMA iPhone. Now it's possible that new Mac hardware might be released at the same time, but new Macs in and of themselves wouldn't create the kind of demand that would drive Apple to cancel employee vacations.
post #20 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

Too early for iPad 2 or iPhone 5.

It might be for a CDMA iPhone, but I'm still doubting the existence of a production-grade design.

The most likely products in an announcement this month would be MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Another possibility is the iPhone on T-Mobile USA.

There is very little or no pent up demand for the notebooks refresh. Certainly not enough to lock out your retail staff from vacations. The Verizon iPhone would seem to have the most pent up demand and enough to take an action with vacation staffing. If you overlay a surge from iPad2 then you I could really justify taking a pretty significant step like shutting down vacations.
post #21 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by kfscoll View Post

There are really only two things that would generate such demand upon release that Apple would have to nix vacations for its retail employees: the Verizon iPhone and the iPad 2. It's too early for the iPad 2 so it's gotta be the CDMA iPhone. Now it's possible that new Mac hardware might be released at the same time, but new Macs in and of themselves wouldn't create the kind of demand that would drive Apple to cancel employee vacations.

I have a hard time understanding why so many people think a new iPhone refresh would be on time in January and an iPad 2 refresh would be 'too soon'. The first iPad was released months before iPhone 4...

I believe it will be iPad2. One reason I can think of is to separate flagship product announcements and ship dates. Releasing iPads in April and iPhones in June is too close together. Releasing them yearly 6 months apart from each other maximizes publicity. It also places a yearly flagship product announcement right after CES each year. CES of course, being the publicity platform every Apple competitor is using.

If iPhone goes to Verizon it will happen in June. That said, a Verizon compatible iPad 2 at the end of the month is also a strong possibility.
post #22 of 86
I wonder if Apple will preview iOS 5 like they did iOS 4 back in February last year..
post #23 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by a1ang View Post

There is very little or no pent up demand for the notebooks refresh. Certainly not enough to lock out your retail staff from vacations. The Verizon iPhone would seem to have the most pent up demand and enough to take an action with vacation staffing. If you overlay a surge from iPad2 then you I could really justify taking a pretty significant step like shutting down vacations.

I'm not sure if the supply chain could handle a high-volume launch like the iPad 2 in late January. A CDMA iPhone? Maybe. The biggest issue is that Chinese manufacturing lines are going to shut down for two weeks in early February for the lunar new year.

I do think a smaller launch like notebooks would be able to weather the two-week shutdown.
post #24 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by TechManMike View Post

I would agree with you initially but....Does Apple ever launch products simultaneously in the US and let's say europe??? The iPad was only available in the US for months before it was available in any other country. I especially know because I was working at the apple store during the ipad launch and there would be tons upon tons of people from europe and asia in the store buying iPads.

The iPad was a completely new product. They roll those out slowly. The iPhone 4 launched simultaneously in the US, UK, France and some other countries. I think it's likely the iPad 2 would do the same.
post #25 of 86
They are probably going to FINALLY be updating the Airport Express! Awesome. I love that thing.
post #26 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackpond View Post

I have a hard time understanding why so many people think a new iPhone refresh would be on time in January and an iPad 2 refresh would be 'too soon'. The first iPad was released months before iPhone 4...

Too soon for iPad2 but not for Verizon iPhone DOES make sense if you subscribe to the theory that it will in effect be a iPhone4 version for Verizon.

People who just got iPhones (like my father-in-law would not care in the least because it would not make his phone "obsolete."
My co-workers who just got iPads, however, would be outdone if a "new and improved" iPad came out this soon...
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post #27 of 86
I don't think anything short of the iPhone 5, in terms of iPhones, would warrant this - not CDMA, not white, not even both. It sounds like iPad 2. That's just a guess like, but to me, it feels like iPad 2. It could well be CDMA iPhone AND iPad 2, which would DEFINITELY warrant such action.

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post #28 of 86
Well, we can guarantee its not going to be the ATV.

or...
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:-D * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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post #29 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by cronked View Post

...the Verizon iPhone. Leaks are coming out left and right of the new hardware (referred to as iPhone 5)....

I think you'll find a CDMA version of the new phone is different than iPhone 5, which would be the anticipated next yearly update to the ATT iPhone. Unless apple intro's iPhone 5 in ATT & Verizon flavors simultaneously. That's not a given.
post #30 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by halhiker View Post

They are probably going to FINALLY be updating the Airport Express! Awesome. I love that thing.

To what?
post #31 of 86
its Big BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG

Can you hear me now?
post #32 of 86
If I was among the maddening crowd who bought an iPad as a holiday gift, I'd be pretty upset to see the new one debut so soon thereafter. The iPhone I can understand, but I think iPad 2 needs to come out later to avoid angering the fans who knew a new one would come...albeit later in 2011, not right away.

They should call it 'iPhone V,' a double play on roman numeral 5 and V for Verizon.
post #33 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisNH View Post

If I was among the maddening crowd who bought an iPad as a holiday gift, I'd be pretty upset to see the new one debut so soon thereafter. The iPhone I can understand, but I think iPad 2 needs to come out later to avoid angering the fans who knew a new one would come...albeit later in 2011, not right away.

They should call it 'iPhone V,' a double play on roman numeral 5 and V for Verizon.

You think they should base the name of a product that will form an entire pillar of their business on a pointless play on words which only applies in one territory?

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post #34 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jensonb View Post

You think they should base the name of a product that will form an entire pillar of their business on a pointless play on words which only applies in one territory?

Yes.

post #35 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Yes.


...

Okey dokey.

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post #36 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jensonb View Post

You think they should base the name of a product that will form an entire pillar of their business on a pointless play on words which only applies in one territory?

I think using the tying the V in would make a good tag line. It would certainly make way more sense then using an X for 10. It only applies to one territory but it is a big one for a lot of people so it makes sense to play up.
post #37 of 86
I'm really trying not to get too excited because I've been down this road too many times, but I've gotta say...I'm pretty damn excited right now!
post #38 of 86
I think Apple might call the event something in the theme of Wireless connectivity, announcing the new MobileMe, iWork.com, iTunes cloud and new routers like airport extreme. In the end the "one more thing" is gonna be the iPhone for Verizon.


iPad might come at the end of March.

Just some speculations.
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post #39 of 86
It must be the long-awaited G5 PowerBook.
post #40 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

To what?

The Spaceport Express.
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