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Last chance to grab an iPhone Mini as savvy analyst reckons Apple will scrap it next year • The Register

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All good things come to an end. And pointless things, too, with Apple reportedly planning to discontinue the iPhone Mini after the next iteration expected later this year.

The warning came from Ming-Chi Kuo, a financial analyst with a track record for correctly predicting Apple’s product roadmap. Per his sources, Apple plans to launch four handsets in 2022: two each with 6.1 inches of screen real estate, and a further two measuring 6.7 inches.

The iPhone Mini, with its diminutive 5.4-inch display, was conspicuously absent from his research notes. But this might not be much of a surprise. Although Apple hasn’t offered a model-by-model sales breakdown of the iPhone 12, it is believed that consumer appetite for the smaller iPhone 12 Mini was tepid at best. We’ve asked analysts to share shipment data.

In the busy post-launch period, the Mini accounted for just 6 per cent of iPhone device sales, according to a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The company was also believed to have slashed production for the first half of this year, according to supply chain leaks to Nikkei.

This failure may seem paradoxical, considering the iPhone 12 Mini is the company’s cheapest 5G phone, and the second-cheapest phone it released during 2020 (trailing the iPhone SE). Additionally, it runs the same processor as the mainstream iPhone 12, meaning it performs exactly the same, despite the smaller form-factor.

It’s entirely possible that Apple misjudged the appetite for smaller phones. Given the growing trend for larger displays, the iPhone 12 Mini was a bit of an aberration and not particularly well placed for long stretches of gaming and Netflix watching. Similarly, its smaller 2,227mAh battery wasn’t quite up to snuff, especially when compared to its bigger (and longer-lasting) rivals.

Ben Stanton, senior tech analyst at Canalys, told The Register: “iPhone 12 Mini had a strange sales cycle. It saw very high pre-orders at launch from the world’s major distributors, retailers and carriers, in anticipation of a wave of customer demand. But this wave never came, and as a result, channel orders fell significantly in the following months, as inventory struggled to sell through.

“In addition, one area which had high-hopes for iPhone 12 Mini was the B2B space, but many businesses have instead gravitated to the cheaper iPhone 11 over the 12 Mini for commercial use. It would seem that a larger display and cheaper price has trumped the inclusion of 5G. I would say that the majority of my channel contacts are telling me iPhone 12 Mini shipped fewer units than their initial expectation.”

Apple is expected to release one final iPhone Mini device, the iPhone Mini 13, according to Ming-Chi’s sources. Apple may try to differentiate it further from the pack to drum up sales beyond the first model.

And beyond that point, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple continue to sell the iPhone 12 (and possibly 13) Mini even after it abandons future generations of the form factor.

In addition to its annual refreshes, Apple has a tendency to keep older models in stock as an affordable option, and to this day continues to sell the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, albeit at a significant discount to its original price. ®

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2021 iPhone photography awards – in pictures | Technology

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The 14th annual iPhone photography awards offer glimpses of beauty, hope and the endurance of the human spirit. Out of thousands of submissions, photojournalist Istvan Kerekes of Hungary was named the grand prize winner for his image Transylvanian Shepherds. In it, two rugged shepherds traverse an equally rugged industrial landscape, bearing a pair of lambs in their arms.

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With Alphabet’s legendary commitment to products, we can’t wait to see what its robotics biz Intrinsic achieves • The Register

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Alphabet today launched its latest tech startup, Intrinsic, which aims to build commercial software that will power industrial robots.

Intrinsic will focus on developing software control tools for industrial robots used in manufacturing, we’re told. Its pitch is that the days of humans having to manually program and adjust a robot’s every move are over, and that mechanical bots should be more autonomous and smart, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and leaps in training techniques.

This could make robots easier to direct – give them a task, and they’ll figure out the specifics – and more efficient – the AI can work out the best way to achieve its goal.

“Over the last few years, our team has been exploring how to give industrial robots the ability to sense, learn, and automatically make adjustments as they’re completing tasks, so they work in a wider range of settings and applications,” said CEO Wendy Tan White.

“Working in collaboration with teams across Alphabet, and with our partners in real-world manufacturing settings, we’ve been testing software that uses techniques like automated perception, deep learning, reinforcement learning, motion planning, simulation, and force control.”

Tan White – a British entrepreneur and investor who was made an MBE by the Queen in 2016 for her services to the tech industry – will leave her role as vice president of X, Alphabet’s moonshot R&D lab, to concentrate on Intrinsic.

She earlier co-founded and was CEO of website-building biz Moonfruit, and helped multiple early-stage companies get up and running as a general partner at Entrepreneur First, a tech accelerator. She is also a board trustee of the UK’s Alan Turing Institute, and member of Blighty’s Digital Economic Council.

“I loved the role I played in creating platforms that inspired the imagination and entrepreneurship of people all over the world, and I’ve recently stepped into a similar opportunity: I’m delighted to share that I’m now leading Intrinsic, a new Alphabet company,” she said.

The new outfit is another venture to emerge from Google-parent Alphabet’s X labs, along with Waymo, the self-driving car startup; and Verily, a biotech biz. ®

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Charles River to create 90 new jobs at Ballina biologics site

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Charles River is expanding its testing capabilities in Ballina as part of its partnership with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca.

Contract research organisation Charles River Laboratories is planning an €8m site expansion in Ballina to facilitate batch release testing for Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca.

The expansion at the Mayo site will create an additional 1,500 sq m of lab space and 90 highly skilled jobs in the area over the next three years.

Click here to check out the top sci-tech employers hiring right now.

The company provides longstanding partners AstraZeneca with outsourced regulated safety and development support on a range of treatments and vaccines, including testing and facilitating the deployment of Vaxzevria for Covid-19 and Fluenz for seasonal infleunza.

The latest investment follows earlier expansions at the Ballina site and Charles River recently announced plans to establish a dedicated laboratory space to handle testing of SARS-CoV-2 and other similar pathogens that cause human disease.

“We are incredibly proud of the transformational changes we have implemented on site and the role that Charles River has played in supporting the safe and timely roll-out of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine,” said Liam McHale, site director for Charles River Ballina.

“Throughout the pandemic, our site remained fully operational while keeping our employees safe and having a positive impact on human health. Our expanded facility will provide us with the increased capacity needed to continue the essential services we provide to our clients.”

Charles River acquired the Ballina facility, which focuses on biologics testing, in 2002. The company employs 230 people at its two facilities in Ireland, including the Mayo site and a site in Dublin, established in 2017, which serves as the EMEA and APAC headquarters for the company’s microbial solutions division.

IDA Ireland is supporting the expansion. Mary Buckley, executive director of the agency, said Charles River is an “employer of long standing” in Co Mayo.

“The enhancement of its product lines and the development of additional capability at the Ballina facility is most welcome,” she added. “Today’s announcement is strongly aligned to IDA Ireland’s regional pillar and its continued commitment to winning jobs and investment in regional locations.”

Dan Wygal, country president for AstraZeneca Ireland, added: “Our Covid-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, undergoes extremely robust safety and quality testing prior to becoming available for patients. We are committed to bringing safe, effective vaccines to Ireland and other markets as quickly as possible, and Charles River will continue to be an important partner in this regard.”

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