Tech giant Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is going forward with its plans for a new wireless chip development team in Irvine amid a Southern California buildup, despite signs of a slowdown in the company’s headcount elsewhere.
The company’s plans for Irvine first became known last December when Apple started advertising for a chip development team here. The Business Journal earlier this year was first to report on the company signing a full-building lease at the Spectrum Terrace office campus to house some of its local operations.
Industry conjecture suggests that Apple-built products reportedly could one day replace some of the chips supplied by Broadcom Inc. (Nasdaq: AVGO), which started in Irvine, and Skyworks Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: SWKS), which is headquartered locally.
Wireless chip uses include cellphones, iPads and smartwatches made by Apple.
Skyworks got 55% of its revenue from Apple in the last quarter, maintaining the Irvine-based company’s dependence on the Cupertino behemoth.
Financial analysts have long speculated that Apple might decide to bring chip production in-house.
That house may at least start in Irvine.
As of Aug. 19, there were 18 jobs posted on the Apple website that specifically say they are part of the company’s “growing wireless silicon development team” in Irvine.
Another dozen postings were for work on wireless development in general.
Positions touted for Irvine range from RFIC integration engineer to wireless SOC (system on chip) design verification engineer to IP design engineer.
The Business Journal sent Apple spokespersons multiple requests for information on the company’s expansion plans in Orange County but didn’t receive a response.
Apple is making real estate moves elsewhere in Southern California. It said last month it had acquired the seven-building Rancho Vista Corporate Center in San Diego, as part of its continued plan to expand hardware and software engineering in Southern California. That deal was for $445 million.
In March, Apple announced the M1 Ultra, which it calls “the world’s most powerful and capable chip for a personal computer.” Now the question is whether Apple in Irvine will develop a different kind of chip, this time for wireless uses.
Meanwhile, other parts of Apple’s business reflect a possible hiring slowdown.
Apple was set to lay off 100 contract-based recruiters as part of its push to rein in hiring and spending, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.
The recruits were responsible for hiring new employees for the company, and the cuts underscore that a slowdown is underway at the iPhone maker.
The workers that were already laid off were told that the cuts were made due to the changes in Apple’s current business needs.
Bloomberg reported in July that the tech giant was decelerating hiring after years of staffing up, joining several tech companies in hitting the brakes.
Apple’s Chief Executive, Tim Cook, confirmed the hiring changes during the company’s earnings conference call in July.
“We’ll continue to hire people and invest in areas, but we are being more deliberate in doing so in recognition of the realities of the environment,” Cook told investors.