Apple Axes 600 Staff In First Layoffs Since Pandemic

Apple has followed other big name tech firms and is to axe hundreds of its staff in California, in its first tranche of layoffs since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apple, according to a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) notice posted in California, officially informed 614 staff of the cuts on 28 March and the changes are effective 27 May.

The tech industry has being shedding tens of thousands of jobs in the past 14 months, following the Covid-19 pandemic. Apple, until now, had been one of the few exceptions and has even been hiring. Indeed back in May 2023 CEO Tim Cook told CNBC that external that layoffs would be a “last resort”.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook at WWDC 2020. Image credit: Apple

Apple job losses

But now Apple is to axe 614 staff in California from its approximate 160,000 strong global workforce – a much smaller number compared to other tech firms, that have axed tens of thousands of staff.

The staff are to be cut from eight offices in Santa Clara, according to the WARN filings, and not the Cupertino headquarters.

It has been reported that these smaller, satellite offices in California are more likely to house secretive projects.

Apple has not revealed which departments or projects the axed employees are involved in.

However Bloomberg reported that the majority of the cuts come from the site address which was working on the recently abandoned self-driving car project in California.

The San Francisco Chronicle also reported that the positions that have been lost include machine shop managers, hardware engineers and product design engineers.

Project Titan

Apple’s attempt to venture into the automotive market with a self-driving electric car, was cancelled back in February 2024.

It was reported at the time that many Project Titan employees would be moved to Apple’s artificial intelligence (AI) division, as the iPhone maker seeks to ramp up its generative AI efforts and capabilities.

Although never officially confirmed, it was widely reported that Apple had been working on its electric car venture ever since 2014, and has spent billions of dollars on the project to release an electric car sometime in 2019.

Rumours were strengthened in July 2015 when CEO Tim Cook was in spotted in Germany, amid reports that Apple was close to agreeing a partnership with BMW.

Apple was reportedly at the time going to use the BMW i3 vehicle as the basis for its ‘Apple Car’.

That partnership would have solved the manufacturing issue, as Apple doesn’t actually make its own devices. Most of its iPhones for example are made by a third party (Foxconn etc).

Car makers on the other hand have their own purpose-built factories and build their own products, and the BMW tie up would have solved Apple’s lack of experience in building actual vehicles.

But when 2019 arrived (the year when its first car was expected) Apple actually scaled back its ambitions at Project Titan, and laid off 190 people from the team.

Then in December 2020 it was reported that Apple had set 2024 as the deadline to produce a passenger vehicle, with a new battery design to ‘radically’ reduce cost and increase range.

But in September 2021, respected car industry veteran Doug Field, who was vice president of special projects at Apple and in charge of Project Titan, departed the iPad maker.

Prior to that in February 2021, South Korean car maker Hyundai (which includes Kia) said it was not in talks with Apple to develop self-driving cars, despite media speculation at the time.

Then in November 2021 Apple once again delayed the arrival of its car to a target date of 2025.

Interesting details about Apple’s car were revealed in December 2021 after an investigation of it’s patent filings, by the popular YouTube channel CarWow.

But in December 2022 it was reported that Apple had scaled back its plans for an self-driving electric vehicle, and had again pushed back the car’s target launch date to 2026.

Now it seems Apple’s Project Titan is truly over.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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