Foxconn could move some iPad and MacBook production to Vietnam

Following a request from Apple, Foxconn could be shifting production out of China for some iPad and MacBook models according to a report from Reuters. The new assembly lines would be based in Vietnam.

As a recent investigation from The Information highlighted, both companies are intrinsically connected. The Taiwanese manufacturer is Apple’s main production partner. Apple is also Foxconn’s main client. When it comes to raw numbers, Foxconn is making 60% to 70% of iPhones, Apple’s main product.

Over the past few years, Apple has tried to diversify its supply chain in two major ways. First, Apple is trying to work with other manufacturing companies, such as Luxshare Precision Industry and Wistron.

Second, Apple is trying to manufacture its products in different countries. New tariffs and import restrictions have made that issue more pressing.

According to Reuters, Apple asked Foxconn to move some iPad and MacBook assembly to Vietnam. The assembly line should be operating at some point during the first half of 2021.

In addition to Vietnam, Foxconn also produces iPhone 11 devices in a plant near Chennai, India. Wistron also assembles iPhone models in India. Foxconn has also manufactured some iPhone models in Brazil.

Despite pandemic, forecasts predict US online holiday sales increase of 20%-30% or more

Strong e-commerce sales are predicted to help lift overall holiday retail spending in the U.S., according to forecasts released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and eMarketer. Both firms expect to see overall retail sales growth during November and December, though the market may be impacted by slowing brick-and-mortar sales.

Of the two, NRF had the more optimistic forecast. It estimates U.S. holiday sales during November and December will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% year-over-year, for a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. That’s compared with a 4% increase in 2019 to $729.1 billion, and an average of a 3.5% increase over the past five years.

Image Credits: NRF

Growth will come from online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, which will increase between 20% and 30% to reach between $202.5 billion and $218.4 billion. That’s up from $168.7 billion last year.

NRF’s takeaway is that consumers are willing to spend — perhaps because of the challenging year that 2020 has been, rather than despite it.

“After all they’ve been through, we think there’s going to be a psychological factor that they owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday,” noted NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “There are risks to the economy if the virus continues to spread, but as long as consumers remain confident and upbeat, they will spend for the holiday season,” he added.

The firm also noted Americans may have reduced their spending in other categories, like personal services, travel and entertainment due to the pandemic, which could increase the money they have for retail spending.

EMarketer, on the other hand, paints a less rosy picture when it comes to overall sales.

The firm predicts that total holiday season retail sales will see the lowest growth rate at just 0.9% year-over-year. This growth will come from the e-commerce sector, which will see its highest growth rate — 35.8% — since the firm began tracking retail sales in 2008. Brick-and-mortar sales, on the other hand, will decline 4.7%.

The discrepancy between these two firms’ estimates have to do with how they calculate “retail sales.”

EMarketer’s estimates include auto and gasoline sales, but exclude restaurants, travel and event sales. NRF’s figures, on the other hand, exclude auto, gasoline and restaurants.

However, both agree on an e-commerce surge. NRF notes online sales were already up 36.7% year-over-year in the third quarter — in part, due to early holiday shopping. This year, some 42% of consumers had started shopping earlier than usual, it recently found. Plus, retail sales were up 10.6% in October 2020 versus October 2019, in aggregate, its forecast noted.

But whether it’s 20% to 30% growth or 35.8%, depending on the firm, it’s clear e-commerce is saving the day here.

NRF also expects seasonal hiring to be in line with recent years, as retailers hire between 475,000 and 575,000 seasonal workers compared with 562,000 in 2019. Some of that hiring may have already taken place in October, due to early shopping, it said.

Though Black Friday may not see the same levels of in-person shopping as in years past, brick-and-mortar retailers have made it easier to shop digitally, then either have items shipped home, picked up in-store, or even curbside. Outside of Amazon, Walmart and Target have particularly benefited from investments in e-commerce, as both retailers easily beat Wall St. expectations in their latest earnings reports, released just ahead of the holiday quarter.

Online, however, Cyber Monday will continue to rule, however, eMarketer says.

Image Credits: eMarketer

Of the five big online shopping days in 2020, eMarketer says Cyber Monday will again beat out Black Friday in terms of overall e-commerce sales, at $12.89 billion compared with Black Friday’s $10.20 billion. But Thanksgiving Day will see the most year-over-year growth in e-commerce sales, at 49.5%, followed by Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Sunday and Cyber Monday.

Image Credits: eMarketer

In a mobile forecast, analytics firm App Annie predicted Americans would spend over 110 million hours in shopping apps on Android devices during the two-week period consisting of Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks. It noted the pandemic had already accelerated mobile device usage to 4 hours, 20 minutes per day, and Americans spent over 61 million hours shopping during the week of Prime Day.

Gift Guide: 7 smart home gift ideas that go beyond the usual Google/Amazon smart speakers

Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’re here to help! We’ll be rolling out gift guides from now through the end of December. You can find our other guides right here.

It’s never been easier to build a smart home. Beyond the same Google/Amazon/Apple/etc. voice-powered assistant speakers you’ve probably seen on every gift guide for years, there’s a world of wonderful smart home products that can delight, surprise and maybe make your life a little easier. The following list is void of those usual suspects and features unique products that would be perfect for anyone trying to make their home just a little bit smarter. Or for you. Whatever works.

This article contains links to affiliate partners where available. When you buy through these links, TechCrunch may earn an affiliate commission.


The promise of the Brilliant Controls panel is to provide a dedicated place to control your myriad smart home devices, all while adding a few remotely controllable light switches to your walls. It’s got a built-in camera (with a physical privacy shutter) that you can use for room-to-room video chats, or to check up on your home while you are away. Supported devices include Wemo smart plugs, Ring alarms, Sonos speakers, Philips Hue and Lifx lights, as well Schlage, Yale and August locks, among others. The number of integrations keeps growing and covers most of the major brands, but if you’ve bet on other systems, this isn’t the controller for you. It comes with built-in Alexa support and works with the Google Assistant, too.

Price: Starting at $299 on Amazon

Flair Smart Vent

Image Credits: Flair

Smart thermostats are fairly ubiquitous these days, but depending on which one you’re using, you could be getting a lot more from your home heating and cooling with relatively simple DIY upgrades. The Flair Smart Vent system is one such upgrade, and though it costs a bit upfront to get going (each register is $79 to start, depending on size — and you’ll need at least one control puck to act as a hub, which adds around $100 to the cost of entry) you won’t have to call an HVAC contractor or break down any walls to take advantage of what it offers.

Price: Around $200 for a starter kit that includes one register and one puck, direct from Flair

Flume 2

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

Many smart home gadgets focus on convenience or automation of typically manual tasks, but Flume’s smart water sensor provides a potentially much more vital service: the ability to track how much water you’re consuming and alert you to potential leaks in your home’s plumbing. The company just released its second-generation Flume Smart Home Water Monitor ($199), and the device is easier to set up and smarter than ever.

Price: $199 on Amazon


Give the gift of art this holiday season with Netgear’s Meural. The connected screen is purpose-built to display artwork. The company offers a subscription service that provides access to the best art throughout history and even packages the art in a way that ensures nothing gets stale. Of course, the owner can also upload their own art to the display.

Price: Starting at $299 from Netgear



Image Credits: Sensibo

Think of the Sensibo as a smart thermostat for those who do not have a central/heating cooling unit. If a person has a window air conditioner, portable room heater or modern heat pump — any device that has a remote control — the Senisbo will control the temperature. The latest version retails for $149 (it’s often on sale) and works great. If you have multiple heating and cooling devices, get a couple of these devices to have complete control.

The company launched in TechCrunch’s Hardware Battlefield competition in 2015 and has since evolved the product into a powerful platform that can automate a person’s heating and cooling needs.

Price: Starts at $115 on Amazon

DIY smart display

Image Credits: Adafruit

There are countless DIY smart home kits on the market and Adafruit has a great collection. The company’s PyPortal is a great jumping off point as it provides the builder with a touchscreen display and basic computing platform that allows for all sorts of uses. With just this kit, a person could build a smart alarm, smart display or Amazon Echo clone.

Price: $55 from Adafruit


Image Credits: Nanoleaf

Nanoleaf products work like interactive, programmable art displays… and, for bonus points, they look like something out of a sci-fi movie. Once you’ve snapped the modular panels together, you can tie them into HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home, or if you’re feeling fancy, use services like IFTTT to programmatically recolor the lights based on the weather outside, or flash whenever you’ve got an incoming message. The kits with everything you’d need to get started (the controller, power plug, and a handful of panels) start at around $150-200, while expansion packs with more panels go for around $60-70 — so it’s not a cheap hobby, but you can start with just a few panels and build up over time if you’re so inclined.

Price: Currently starting at $180 direct from Nanoleaf

Gift Guide: Smart cooking gadgets for the smart cookies on your list

Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’re here to help! We’ll be rolling out gift guides from now through the end of December. You can find our other guides right here.

If you’re spending a lot of time at home this holiday season, you might as well spend at least some of that time in the kitchen making delicious meals. There are plenty of smart kitchen gadgets out there, but it feels like the best among them are really delivering standout experiences for smarter, better and more connected cooking options.

This article contains links to affiliate partners where available. When you buy through these links, TechCrunch may earn an affiliate commission.

The all-in-one restaurant replacement

Thermomix TM6

Image Credits: Thermomix

The Thermomix has been around for a while now, but the new TM6 model takes its concept of being a one-stop countertop cooking station even further. This new version is packed with smarts, including built-in Wi-Fi, and the inset touchscreen tablet control makes it super easy not only to follow along with recipe instructions, but also to find and save new recipes using Cookidoo, the software companion service to Thermomix’s hardware.

With the ability to blend, mix, chop, sauté, steam, slow cook, sous vide and much more, the Thermomix really can handle just about every task involved in cooking. Yes, it comes with a hefty price tag, but when you consider all the various kitchen gadgets it’s replacing — and the added benefits it includes, like the built-in guided recipe service — it becomes clear that the asking price is actually a bargain.

Price: $1,499 from Thermomix

The trusty temp taker


Image Credits: MEATER

If you think you don’t have a knack for cooking meat properly, you might actually just be lacking a crucial tool — a good meat thermometer. The MEATER Plus is that and more, with connected features that provide you with real-time temp monitoring via mobile app, as well as a full guide of proper, safe temperatures for cooking all kinds of meat, and awesome charts and graphs of both the ambient temperature of whatever appliance you’re using to cook, in addition to the internal temp.

The Plus version of MEATER extends its Bluetooth range via the connected base, providing you with enough reach to monitor an outdoor cook throughout your house, for instance. The totally wire-free design and magnetic base is a nice touch for storage and convenience, and you can easily connect other MEATERs if you’re cooking a variety of things at once.

Price: $99 from MEATER

The smoking star

Weber SmokeFire EX6

Image Credits: Weber

I used to enjoy BBQing quite a lot, but that was before I discovered the joys of a smoker. The Weber SmokeFire EX6 is one of two debut pellet smoker grills created by the iconic outdoor grilling company, and it’s the bigger version that provides enough grilling surface for you to feed a large family or a small sports team.

The SmokeFire EX6 has had some growing pains since its introduction to the market earlier this year, but consistent and frequent firmware updates delivered over-the-air to its Wi-Fi-connected controller have made it a top performer. You can use built-in cooking programs, along with up to four hardwired temperature probes, to prepare whatever you’re making to perfection. Low and slow, or high and hot, the EX6 does it all.

Price: $1,199 from Amazon

The go-to grill

Spark One

Image Credits: Spark Grills

While a smoker offers a lot of benefit, especially for lower-temp cooking, it’s hard to beat a charcoal grill for everyday use, particularly with foods like hamburgers, fish and steaks, as well as roasted veggies. The Spark One is a smart grill that takes everything that’s good about the tried-and-tested “green egg” style cooker and updates it with connectivity and convenience.

Spark Grills has simplified charcoal grilling with their pre-formed Briqs, which are single-piece charcoal fuel blocks that slot perfectly into the Spark One and that ignite quickly via electric igniter to get to temp. Built-in fans keep the temperature consistent for the best possible, predictable cooks of all types of foods.

Price: $599 (Black Friday price through Cyber Monday) from Spark Grills

The toastmaster

Revolution Cooking R180

Image Credits: Revolution

The Revolution R180 High Speed Smart Toaster is true to its name, cooking toast faster than most. But more than its speed, it deserves praise for its precision: What you see is what you get thanks to a visual doneness selector on the large touchscreen interface. It’s also got custom modes for bread, bagels, waffles, English muffins and even toaster pastries, as well as fresh, frozen and reheated versions of each.

It’s an expensive toaster, but you probably don’t know what toast could be if you haven’t yet tried toast made by the R180.

Price: $240 from Amazon


Gift Guide: Smart exercise gear to hunker down and get fit with

Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’re here to help! We’ll be rolling out gift guides from now through the end of December. You can find our other guides right here.

Home exercise gear is always a nice holiday gift choice for anyone who has expressed interest in staying healthy and getting more fit, but during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it’s more relevant than ever. Luckily, smart exercise and health gear is smarter than ever, making it perfect for the gift list this season.

Big machines

Bowflex Velocore bike

Image Credits: Bowflex

Bowflex’s latest exercise bike is a great follow-up to their solid C6, and it has a unique trick up its sleeve — leaning. The Velocore unlocks to allow side-to-side leans during workouts, which adds a good amount of core stabilization to your existing spin exercises.

The Velocore also offers an integrated display in either 16″ or 22″ sizes, and that provides access to Bowflex’s own JRNY video fitness instruction. It’s a great subscription service, though it doesn’t include live classes like Peloton. Luckily, Bowflex supports Peloton’s software as well, so you can also use that with the Velocore if that’s your preference.

Price: $1,699 (16-inch) or $2,199 (22-inch) from Bowflex direct or Best Buy

Hydrow rower

Image Credits: Hydrow

Rowers are a great way to get in some indoor cardio, and a nice change-up from treadmills and bikes that also works out your upper body. The Hydrow is the most technologically advanced of these out there, with a large, high-quality display that provides access to both live and on-demand classes via its virtual service. It’s also engineered to really feel like you’re getting the same kind of resistance you would from actual water.

Price: $1,995 (price as of publication) from Hydrow direct

Peloton Tread

Image Credits: Peloton

If you’re looking for a treadmill with smart features, Peloton’s is easily the best option available. The new Tread is the way to go for most, since it’s nearly $2,000 cheaper than the original, which is now the Tread+, and it still offers a huge display for those interactive and on-demand Peloton classes, and everything you need for a full-body workout as well. It’s not available in retail across the U.S. until March, but it’s a good advance gift if a treadmill is on the list.

Price: From $2,495 from Peloton direct

Smart and small

JAXJOX KettlebellConnect 2.0

Image Credits: JAXJOX

Smart weights come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but JAXJOX’s next-generation smart kettlebell is one of the all-around best and most convenient smart weights out there. The selectable weight ranges from 12 to 42 lbs, and the smart features on board provide real-time reporting on performance, along with the ability to sync with the JAXJOX mobile app for on-demand guided workouts.

Price: $229 from JAXJOX

Tangram Factory SmartRope Rookie

Image Credits: Tangram Factory

If you’re even more space constrained, a jump rope is essentially a whole-body gym in a tiny, portable package. The Tangram Factory Rookie is a more affordable, smaller and higher version of their original SmartRope, with built-in activity tracking, long-lasting battery, and a fully adjustable rope length that allows it to be used by both children and adults of all sizes.

Price: Starting at $39.95 from Tangram Factory direct or Apple Store

Activity and health monitoring

Withings BPM Core wireless blood pressure monitor

Image Credits: Withings

The Withings BPM Core is a connected blood pressure monitor that provides a lot of extras, including measurement of your heartbeat with a digital stethoscope, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) feature to monitor for any potential atrial fibrillation. Withings is building all their hardware these days to clinical validation standards, so this is a surefire way to keep on top of these key signals of health.

Price: $250 from Withings (coming soon)

Withings Body Cardio

Image Credits: Withings

Withings is really nailing it with home health monitoring equipment these days, which is why the Body Cardio smart scale is another recommendation in this list. The Body Cardio not only measures weight, but also provides you with a body composition breakdown, giving you approximate body fat percentage and body mass index for even more detailed fitness tracking. Plus, it monitors heart rate.

Price: $119.96 (price at publication) from Withings