digitimes.com

DigiTimes is a Taiwan-based website that shares rumors gleaned from Apple's asian supply chain, obtaining information from the suppliers who manufacture parts for iPhones and other Apple products.

DigiTimes' sources often provide reliable information, but the site has a mixed track record when it comes to interpreting that information and accurately deciphering Apple's plans. DigiTimes receives a flood of data from the Asian supply chain, some of which it claims pertains to prototypes or test products that never make it to market or change significantly before launch, skewing its accuracy.

It is often best to view DigiTimes rumors with some skepticism until the info is corroborated by additional sources, especially when it comes to rumors that seem particularly outlandish or implausible.

'digitimes.com' Articles

Taiwan Component Makers Refuse to Lower Quotes For iPhone 7 Parts

Apple's demand that overseas suppliers lower their quotes for iPhone 7 parts and components has been met with resistance from makers, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes. Apple is said to have asked downstream part and component suppliers, excluding TSMC and Largan Precision, to reduce their quotes for iPhone 7 devices by as much as 20 percent, even though order volumes for new phones are reportedly 30 percent lower than those placed a year earlier. Apple is reportedly using the rising handset supply chain in China to force Taiwan-based companies to make their quotes more competitive. However, DigiTimes suggests Apple's policy of squeezing out profits from Taiwan suppliers "makes no sense" because "the quality of products rolled out by Taiwan- and China-based suppliers is standing at different levels". Whether or not quality is an issue, major downstream suppliers including Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) and associated companies under the Foxconn Group have told Apple that they cannot accept orders without reasonable profits. Apple reportedly chose to exclude TSMC and Largan from its demands because the company is finding it hard to find alternatives that offer foundry services or high-end camera modules, respectively. Meanwhile, ASE has seen its business grow steadily in recent years and optimized its advanced packaging technology by expanding its client base through a merger agreement with fellow company Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL). Foxconn Group, for its part, has acquired Japan-based Sharp, which will reportedly keep its

256GB Storage Rumor Gaining Steam as iPhone 7 Launch Approaches

iPhone users that elect not to use iCloud storage will be pleased to learn that another source has thrown its weight behind at least one iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus model having 256GB of flash storage. DigiTimes, citing industry sources, is the latest to claim the iPhone 7 will feature up to 256GB of storage, corroborating previous reports from Chinese website MyDrivers and Taiwanese research firm TrendForce.NAND flash vendors have increased chip prices citing strong demand for new smartphones particularly the iPhone 7 featuring up to 256GB of storage, according to industry sources. Prices will keep soaring until the fourth quarter of 2016.In July, The Wall Street Journal confirmed the iPhone 7 will start with 32GB of storage, replacing the infamous 16GB base tier offered since the iPhone 3GS. Accordingly, the new storage options for the iPhone 7 could be 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB, but it remains unclear if the 256GB tier will be exclusive to the larger 5.5-inch model as some sources have indicated. The current storage options for both the iPhone 6/6 Plus and iPhone 6s/6s Plus series include 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB, with the 16GB base model in particular drawing the ire of some customers who have long hoped for a larger capacity at the entry-level price point. This year, it appears that Apple has finally acknowledged the desire for larger storage tiers at both the top and bottom of its iPhone

3GB of RAM Again Rumored for Next iPhone, Likely 5.5-Inch Model Only

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has twice claimed the next 5.5-inch iPhone, tentatively referred to as the iPhone 7 Plus, will carry 3GB of RAM for improved performance, and now DigiTimes echoes that in a new report.Increasing built-in memory capacity at next-generation smartphones, including new iPhone devices, will further ramp up demand for memory products in the third quarter, said sources, noting that the mobile DRAM capacity of the next-generation iPhone is expected to increase to 3GB from 2GB previously.The report stops short of specifying whether the 4.7-inch, 5.5-inch, or both iPhone 7 models will have 3GB of RAM, but in general it will mark an increase over the 2GB of RAM in the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. DigiTimes has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, but its supply chain sources have provided accurate information on occasion in the past, and the rumor is backed by the more credible Kuo. The increased RAM should prove valuable given the camera improvements expected with the new iPhones, including a dual-lens system on the 5.5-inch model. Deutsche Bank has also thrown its weight behind the 3GB of RAM rumor, although its prediction is likely based on Kuo rather than independent

Apple Watch 2 Said to Include Thinner 'One Glass Solution' Display

The second-generation Apple Watch will feature "One Glass Solution" (OGS) display technology instead of Glass on Glass (G/G) technology, reports DigiTimes citing information obtained from Apple supplier TPK Holding. One Glass Solution technology eliminates one of the layers of glass from a traditional G/G display that features two pieces of glass, replacing one layer with a thinner material. Making the switch from G/G, used in the current Apple Watch, to OGS could potentially allow Apple to save a small amount of internal space in the Apple Watch 2 and make slight reductions in the weight of the device. According to TPK Holding, production of the OGS panels for the second-generation Apple Watch has seen some unexpected technical issues, resulting in low yield rates. It is not clear if this will affect overall production of the second-generation Apple Watch.The large loss for the second quarter was mainly because touch panel orders for iPhones continued to decrease, and Apple will change touch panel technology from G/G to OGS (one glass solution) in the new Apple Watch to be launched in the second half of 2016, TPK said. The change in touch panel technology involved unexpected technological difficulties and therefore yield rates for OGS touch panels were much lower than expected, TPK explained.The Apple Watch 2 is rumored to feature only minor design changes with primarily under-the-hood spec improvements. Cellular connectivity, a faster processor, and an improved battery are possibilities for the device. As for a launch date, rumors suggest we can expect to see

MacBook Air With USB-C Again Rumored, Launch Timeframe Unclear

Last month, Japanese blog Mac Otakara reported that Apple plans to announce new MacBook Air models featuring USB-C ports based on the Thunderbolt 3 protocol by the end of June, and begin shipping the notebooks to retailers in August. It is now seven weeks later, however, and the rumor has yet to materialize. But if a new report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes is to believed, Apple still has plans to release a new MacBook Air with USB-C ports after all. The report does not provide a launch timeframe for the updated notebooks, but the secondary rumor suggests Mac Otakara may have been off on timing only.Currently, Apple has decided to adopt the USB Type-C interface for its MacBook Air, while Asustek Computer and Hewlett-Packard (HP) are upgrading one of their notebooks' regular USB port to the Type-C. Lenovo, Acer and Dell are still evaluating the option.DigiTimes previously reported that Apple will begin shipping new "ultra-thin" 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the second quarter, which ended in late June. The report said the new MacBooks would "share a design similar to the existing 12-inch MacBook" and be "thinner than [the] existing MacBook Air." DigiTimes also previously reported that Apple plans to release new ultra-thin MacBooks with metal injection molded hinges in the second half of 2016. The website is not always an accurate source of Apple's upcoming product plans, but it has well-connected supply chain sources that have proven reliable at times in the past. Apple's entire Mac lineup, beyond the 2016 12-inch MacBook, has stagnated. Apple has

Second-Generation Apple Watch Expected This Fall

Apple is planning to unveil the second-generation Apple Watch in September or October, according to a new report from DigiTimes citing supply chain sources in a wider piece on weakening demand for tablets and wearables. Component makers and Apple suppliers are said to be seeing "rather conservative orders" for the new Apple Watch despite its upcoming release date, information that directly conflicts with a June DigiTimes report that pointed towards "higher-than-expected" orders. Given the confusion over the second-generation Apple Watch in the supply chain, DigiTimes' information does not offer a clear picture of the demand Apple expects to see for the device. Rumors suggest the second-generation Apple Watch will see under-the-hood spec improvements and perhaps some minor form factor tweaks, but major changes to the device are not expected to be unveiled this year. Improved battery life, a faster processor, and built-in cellular capabilities are all features we could see in a new Apple Watch. While we can't glean anything about supply from DigiTimes, the September or October timeframe is in line with past rumors. Previous information suggests Apple is perhaps planning to unveil a new Apple Watch alongside new iPhones, and new iPhone models are typically announced in September. According to a recent rumor, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be released on Friday, September 16, and if that's the correct launch date for the iPhone 7, we can likely expect to see the Apple Watch released on the same day. With a September 16 launch date, an unveiling event could

Apple Demanding Price Cuts From Suppliers Ahead of iPhone 7

Apple is demanding price cuts on components for the new iPhone from its overseas suppliers to maintain its high profit margins, despite a global slowdown in smartphone sales, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes. The report claims several large Taiwan-based component suppliers such as Foxconn, Largan Precision, and Pegatron have already been affected, while strong competition in Greater China forcing the companies to "compete aggressively" over Apple's orders by cutting prices. Currently, Largan is facing strong competition from Japan-based Kantatsu over camera module orders, while Foxconn and Pegatron are seeing Apple adding new ODM partners such as Wistron for the production of its new iPhone.Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 series in September. The smartphones are expected to retain iPhone 6s-like designs with faster Apple A10 processors, dustproofing and waterproofing, repositioned antenna bands, and faster LTE and Wi-Fi. A dual-lens camera and 3GB of RAM may be exclusive to the 5.5-inch model. Other rumored features include a Smart Connector, stereo speakers, and a flush, touch-sensitive home button, but it is not entirely clear if each of those features are destined for the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus/Pro, no longer planned, or reserved for the alleged OLED-based iPhone with glass casing expected in

Samsung to Capitalize on First OLED-Based iPhone in 2017

Samsung Display will remain the global leader among AMOLED display suppliers over the next few years, with shipments estimated to increase to 560 million units by 2019, according to Taiwan-based DigiTimes Research. Samsung Electronics, which produces the company's lineup of Android-based Galaxy smartphones, is expected to remain Samsung Display's largest customer over the next few years, with its in-house AMOLED panel demand projected to grow from 239 million units in 2016 to 290 million units in 2019. Apple is rumored to release its first OLED-based iPhone in 2017, moving away from traditional LCD technology it has used since 2007 for at least one iPhone model. The report estimates that Samsung Display will supply Apple with 40 million AMOLED panels in 2017, 80 million units in 2018, and 120 million units in 2019. LG Display, AU Optronics, Japan Display, and Foxconn-owned Sharp may also share production of OLED panels for future iPhones. Earlier this year, DisplayMate found that Samsung's Galaxy S7 makes a compelling case for Apple to switch to OLED display technology. Possible benefits include increased brightness, improved color accuracy, improved screen visibility in bright environments, and more efficient power consumption. A number of China-based smartphone vendors, including Vivo, Oppo, GiONEE, Huawei, and Lenovo, have also adopted or decided to adopt AMOLED panels in the future, with Samsung Display's combined shipments to them projected to increase from 99 million units in 2016 to 150 million units in

Apple Watch May Switch to Micro-LED Display in Mid 2017 or Later

Apple may switch to micro-LED displays for the Apple Watch in the second half of 2017 at the earliest, moving away from the current OLED technology used, according to supply chain sources for Taiwanese website DigiTimes. The timeline suggests that the much-rumored Apple Watch 2 lineup expected to debut in the second half of 2016 will continue to have OLED displays, with the move towards micro-LED panels liking occurring in tandem with the tentatively named Apple Watch 3. Micro-LED displays can be thinner and lighter and allow for improved color gamut, increased brightness, and higher resolutions. The panels do not require backlighting like traditional LCD displays, but they can be difficult and expensive to mass produce. Micro LEDs range in size from 1-micron to 100-micron. Earlier this year, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the Apple Watch 2 will mainly feature internal improvements, with more significant form factor design changes not occurring until 2017. By then, the switch to micro-LED panels and other technological advances could allow for a thinner Apple Watch. Apple acquired micro-LED display maker LuxVue Technology in 2014, and one of the company's investors at the time said it had "a technical breakthrough in displays." LuxVue holds multiple micro-LED-related patents and, in 2013, it raised $25.2 million in funding to pursue the technology. Apple also opened a facility in northern Taiwan last year, where it is believed to be focusing on micro-LED technology. The current Apple Watch is the only Apple product with an OLED display due to

Apple Diversifies Suppliers for iPhone 7 Due in September

Apple will rely on multiple manufacturing partners to assemble the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, including Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes. The new 4.7-inch model will reportedly be assembled by Foxconn and Pegatron, while the 5.5-inch model will be made by Foxconn and Wistron. Apple typically diversifies suppliers to aim for a smooth iPhone launch. "Wistron was a manufacturer of Apple's iPhone 5c and has already prepared sufficient capacity for the next-generation iPhone orders," the report adds. Wistron has also been tasked with iPhone SE orders. The report unsurprisingly confirms that Apple's next-generation flagship iPhones will launch at the end of the third quarter, setting the stage for a traditional September announcement and release, likely by no later than the third week of the month. DigiTimes has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, but its sources within the upstream supply chain have proven reliable at times. Rumors suggest the iPhone 7 could retain a 6s-like design with a faster TSMC-built A10 chip, slightly larger battery, waterproofing and dustproofing, repositioned antenna bands, no headphone jack, faster Intel LTE chips, and more. Meanwhile, the larger iPhone 7 Plus (or Pro) could have a Smart Connector, dual-lens camera, and 3GB of RAM. Other rumors surrounding the next-generation smartphones have included a flush camera, touch-sensitive home button, stereo speakers, and wireless charging, but it remains possible that Apple dropped some of those features or chose to

Apple Increases iPhone SE Orders Amid Growing Sales Pressures

In line with Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent comments about "very strong" iPhone SE demand exceeding supply, the company has reportedly increased orders for the low-priced 4-inch smartphone in the second quarter of 2016. DigiTimes claims that the second-quarter outlook for iPhone SE-related chip orders has been revised to more than 5 million units, up from 3.5-4 million, and the upward trend is expected to continue through the third quarter. In a related report, the Taiwanese website notes that Apple has conversely lowered orders for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus due to declining sales of the flagship handsets. Last week, Apple announced its first-ever year-over-year decline in iPhone sales, which dropped to 51.2 million from 61.2 million in the year-ago quarter, and provided third quarter guidance that suggests the decline will continue. While the lower-priced iPhone SE could help Apple combat its overall decline in smartphone sales, Apple analyst Neil Cybart of Above Avalon notes that the device has a lower average selling price (ASP) and smaller profit margins. Those pressures, alongside other warning signs, leads him to believe that Apple "has a significant iPhone growth problem on its hands" right now.When looking at all of these iPhone warning signs, it is becoming clear that Apple has a significant iPhone growth problem on its hands. The combination of a slowing iPhone upgrade rate and declining number of growth catalysts for expanding the iPhone's addressable market will make it very difficult for management to report unit sales growth going forward given

iPhone 7 Could Have Touch-Sensitive Home Button as Waterproof and Dustproof Rumors Persist

Less than five months before Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, supply chain rumors continue to suggest that the next-generation smartphones will be both fully waterproof and dustproof. Apple is also reportedly testing a touch-sensitive home button for its upcoming flagship handset, possibly meaning the iPhone 7 could have a flush home button, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes (via I4U News). iPhone 7 mockup with a traditional home button DigiTimes has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, but at least three previous reports have claimed the iPhone 7 will be waterproof over the past seven months, and dustproofing would be inherently plausible. Comparatively, the iPhone 6s is surprisingly water resistant, but not entirely waterproof. In September, a source on Chinese microblogging service Weibo said the iPhone 7 will have a strengthened, waterproof frame, backed up by a Fast Company report that also claimed the device will be thinner than the iPhone 6s. Rumors suggest the iPhone 7 could be as thin as 6.1mm like the iPod touch. Rumors surrounding the home button on future iPhones are less consistent. Back in June 2015, a report claimed that Apple was looking to develop new display technology with "integrated fingerprint sensors," potentially allowing for the company to eventually do away with the iconic home button on iPhones. Last month, Apple was granted a patent for a pressure-sensitive Liquidmetal home button that deforms slightly when pressed, but returns to its normal shape when the user

Rival Handset Makers Face Inventory Losses Following China iPhone SE Launch

The launch of the iPhone SE in China has squeezed market share from local brands causing handset makers to rein in their inventory stockpiling for future component shipments, according to sources in the supply chain (via DigiTimes). The introduction of the relatively low-priced iPhone SE into the Chinese market has reportedly affected the performance of brands including Huawei, Xiaomi Technology, Vivo, and Oppo. The intensified competition means handset makers are reluctant to build up inventories based on what they now perceive as over-confident shipment prospects, said the sources. The conservatism follows similar trends last year when shipment numbers failed to meet expectations. Camera module makers in particular were exposed to a high level of inventories in 2015 after optimistic shipment projections, but ended up shipping only 70 to 80 percent of their stockpiles. As a result, camera module suppliers have grown skeptical of prospects from vendors marketing smartphones with dual lenses. Sources also noted that Apple's efforts to upgrade the internal voltage of its power supply devices from 15 volts to 20 volts to improve charging efficiency has left power supply makers with excessive inventories. Apple is expected to include a dual-lens camera in the iPhone 7, set to be released in the fall of this year. However, according to respected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the dual camera will be exclusive to Apple's 5.5-inch iPhone.

New 'Ultra-Thin' MacBooks Launching in Second Half of 2016 May Sport Metal Injection Mold-Made Hinges

Last November it was reported that Apple was working with suppliers to "fully redesign" many of the MacBook's internal components to achieve a slimmer design. Today, DigiTimes reports one of those redesigns is a move to metal injection mold-made hinges. Metal injection molding is a metalworking process that's used to create very small metal pieces that are typically used by Apple for the internals of products like iPhone and Apple Watch. Apple is looking to use the technology for its MacBook hinges to save space and achieve an "ultra-thin" design, according to DigiTimes. The new hinges will be supplied by Amphenol, who claims to produce some of the thinnest sliding hinges in the world on its website. The company partners with Microsoft to produce the parts for the hinges on the Microsoft Surface 4. While DigiTimes has a mixed track record reporting Apple's future plans, the report does corroborate an earlier report that Apple was working toward a slimmer MacBook, likely scheduled for release after WWDC 2016. However, it's unclear which MacBook lineup these reports are referring to. Apple's refreshed MacBook is expected to include faster Skylake processors and Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C

More Suppliers Secure Apple Watch 2 Orders as Launch Inches Closer

With the Apple Watch 2 expected to launch in the second half of 2016, supply chain informant DigiTimes reports that Samsung and other overseas manufacturers have secured component orders for the next-generation device. Taiwan-based Advanced Semiconductor Engineering will fulfill the majority of system-on-a-chip production, while Amkor Technology and STATS ChipPAC will share a portion of remaining orders, according to the report. Meanwhile, additional Taiwanese supplier Kinsus Interconnect Technology is said to have secured Apple Watch 2 substrate orders, and Samsung Electronics will reportedly fabricate the Apple Watch 2's processor, consisting of mobile DRAM, NAND flash, and other chips. Both Kinsus and Samsung provide components for the original Apple Watch, which is powered by Apple's custom-designed S1 chip. Previous reports indicated that Quanta Computer will likely remain the key Apple Watch 2 manufacturer. The supplier reportedly began trial production of the second-generation watch in January, in time for a purported late-second-quarter launch around June. Volume shipments were said to begin in the third quarter, which could be any point between early July and late September. Opportunities for Apple to introduce a second-generation Apple Watch include its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, or its annual iPhone introduction event in September. The original Apple Watch was announced in early September 2014 and released in late April 2015, suggesting an elongated 14 to 19 month release cycle between models that may help avoid consumer

Apple Reportedly Using Chinese Server Supplier to Migrate iCloud Service

Apple is reportedly working with China-based server vendor Inspur to help transfer its iCloud data services in-house, according to sources out of the China supply chain (via DigiTimes). Currently Apple is thought to rely heavily on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host many of its cloud server requirements, but the company’s data center plans suggest it is looking to scale back the money it spends on third-party cloud computing platforms as its data demands increase. Inspur currently has a share of over 60 percent of China's internet server market, and has previously agreed partnerships with Microsoft, Intel, IBM, and other technology companies looking to expand their server capacity. Inspur already has facilities close to Apple's headquarters in California that include an R&D team as well as a production center. Neither Apple nor Inspur have confirmed the rumor, but sources within the supply chain quoted by Taiwan-based website DigiTimes have proven reliable in the past. Last month, Apple signed a deal with Google worth between $400 million and $600 million that will see the Google Cloud Platform providing some of the cloud infrastructure for iCloud and other cloud-based Apple services. Apple has never confirmed the cloud services that power iCloud, but past rumors have pointed towards AWS and Microsoft Azure, suggesting Apple will continue using multiple services to meet its needs until its own data centers are all fully operational. Apple is currently building new data centers in Ireland, Denmark, Reno, and Arizona, and is expanding its existing data

Foxconn to Develop OLED Displays Following Sharp Takeover

Following multiple reports claiming Apple will release its first OLED-based iPhone as early as 2017, DigiTimes Research says that Apple manufacturer Foxconn will develop AMOLED displays through its recent investment in troubled Japanese electronics maker Sharp.Sharp will set up one 4.5G and two 6G AMOLED production lines with monthly capacity of 13,000, 11,500 and 34,500 glass substrates respectively, with total monthly capacity of 9.85 million 5.5-inch equivalent panels.Given its longstanding relationship with Apple, the move could position Foxconn as a frontrunner among AMOLED display suppliers for iPhones. Recent reports said Apple was closing in on deals with Samsung and LG, while AU Optronics and Japan Display are also rumored candidates for orders in 2017 or 2018. AU Optronics, Japan Display, LG, and Sharp have all supplied Apple with LCD displays for current or previous iPhones. Last month, oft-reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple is planning an all-new iPhone featuring a curved 5.8-inch AMOLED display for debut in 2017. Kuo noted that, if supplies are sufficient, Apple would launch a 4.7-inch LCD-based iPhone paired with the new 5.8-inch AMOLED iPhone as a Plus-sized model. While some have expressed skepticism about Apple releasing a larger 5.8-inch iPhone, one possibility is that the screen wraps around the sides of the device akin to Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge. Apple holds patents for wraparound screens, and the design lines up nicely when applied to the height of a 5.5-inch iPhone. Rumors suggest that the iPhone 7 series will

Apple Chip Suppliers Report Slowing Orders for Q2 2016

Chip orders from Apple for the second quarter of 2016 have been notably slow, according to unnamed sources in the integrated circuit supply chain (via DigiTimes). Overall, chip orders placed by Apple for Q2 are expected to be only slightly higher than those for Q1, despite the launch of the company's 4-inch iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro earlier this month. First-week sales of Apple's new devices have been disappointing, according to the sources, while chip shipments for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus for the second quarter of 2016 are likely to be halved from those shipped in the first quarter. According to DigiTimes: Shipments for the new iPhone SE will be unable to offset the fall in shipments for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices in the second quarter, the sources continued. The shipment target for the SE in the second quarter is four to five million units.The same sources claim chip orders from Apple are unlikely to return to the previous high levels until after the third quarter of 2016, when its next-generation iPhone, iPad, MacBook and iMac products become available. Taiwan-based website DigiTimes has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, but its sources within the upstream supply chain have proven reliable in the past. Back in February, the site claimed Apple would ship 9.8 million iPads in the first quarter of 2016, potentially its lowest quarterly tablet sales since the iPad 2 in mid 2011. In January, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed during the company's financial earnings conference call that iPhone sales would likely

Apple Said to Ship New 'Ultra-Thin' 13" and 15" MacBooks by June-July

While some customers were hopeful that Apple would release new Macs at its "Let Us Loop You In" media event yesterday, the product announcements were focused on the new 4-inch iPhone SE, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and additional Apple Watch bands. But those waiting patiently for a Mac refresh may not have much longer to wait, as DigiTimes today reported that Apple will begin shipping new "ultra-thin" 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the second quarter. The second calendar quarter ends on June 30, meaning that new Macs could feasibly be introduced by WWDC 2016, which will likely take place between June 13-17 based on scheduling information available from the Moscone Center. The new MacBooks will allegedly "share a design similar to the existing 12-inch MacBook" and be "thinner than [the] existing MacBook Air," which makes it difficult to infer which MacBook lineup the report is referring to. DigiTimes has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, but its report corroborates a previous rumor claiming Apple is preparing thinner 13" and 15" MacBook Airs with "fully redesigned" internal components. That report said the notebooks would be ready by the third quarter, which corresponds to a July-September timeframe -- possibly shortly after a WWDC announcement. Apple currently offers the MacBook Air in 11" and 13" sizes, and it has never released a 15" MacBook Air. In fact, many have assumed the MacBook Air will be discontinued at some point as declining costs allow the MacBook to become Apple's mainstream notebook offering. A

Apple Supplier Broadcom Reportedly Phasing Out Wi-Fi Chip Business

Communications chip maker and Apple supplier Broadcom is planning to phase out its Wi-Fi chip business in order to streamline its workforce and product line, according to industry sources in Taiwan (via DigiTimes). The move follows the company's recent acquisition by Avago Technologies and forms part of a larger strategy to allocate more resources for research and development in the fiber-optic and server sectors, according to the report. The Wi-Fi chip business is said to yield relatively low gross margins for Broadcom compared to other product lines. Sources cited fierce price wars for mass-market applications such as notebooks, tablets, TVs and smartphones as the reason behind the decision to phase out the company's involvement in the sector. Broadcom has reportedly almost halved the workforce stationed at its plant in Taipei, while companies such as MediaTek, Realtek Semiconductor and RDA Microelectronics have already received a pull-in of short lead-time orders from Broadcom's customers in the Wi-Fi chip sector. It's unclear whether the phase out, if confirmed, is a disruption for Apple as it gears up for annual product refreshes across its desktop and mobile devices. Apple currently uses Broadcom chips in its Apple Watch, iPhones and iPads, as well as its line of Macs that support 802.11ac, including the MacBook Air, Retina MacBook Pro, and iMac. Two years ago, Apple hired two high-level baseband hardware engineers who left their longtime positions at Broadcom to join an engineering team at Cupertino. In 2013, Apple acquired low-power wireless chip