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No layoffs at Apple, Steve Jobs promises troops

But Mac maker must work harder

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Apple is getting flabby, and Steve Jobs is going to get it into shape. At least that's what he told staff t'other day in a "communications meeting" broadcast to Apple-atchiks around the globe.

The meeting was inspired by Apple's profit warning of last week, in which the company announced it expected earning to be 33 per cent lower than it had previously anticipated. That, in turn, prompted investor panic and a 50 per cent fall in Apple's stock price and market valuation.

Jobs' recipe for getting Apple back in shape: limit operating costs, primarily through a freeze in job recruitment, he said, according to ZDNet and Go2Mac hacks Matthew Rothenberg and Jason O'Grady.

Jobs admitted that some new posts will be created, in "key areas", and replacement staff will be found for existing jobs, but the level of hiring that's been taking place over the last few years will be much reduced.

Fortunately for Apple staffers, there will be no layoffs, Jobs promised.

Good. Apple needs to improve its ability to get good products to market, more quickly, and for that it needs keen, well motivated staff. What with all the share price turmoil, the last thing it needs is to start firing people, which would hit employees' morale even harder.

Apple made plenty of redundancies back in the dim days of 1997 - some cut 2700 permanent and 1400 part-time staffers were given their notice - but since then has been steadily re-hiring in a glow of post-iMac success.

The trouble is, the iMac hasn't been updated as frequently as it should have been, leaving it steadily under-featured when compared to most consumer PCs. In this day and age, you need model refreshes to come at least every six months, sometimes more frequently, and Apple needs to get with the programme.

Jobs appears to understand this. He told staff that its operations and engineering divisions need to become more streamlined and get product to market more quickly.

As for the infamous stock plunge, Jobs told the troops that the company is investigating a stock buy-back as a way of boosting the value of staff stock options, which are now worth rather less than they were last week. ®

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