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iPad Mini Confirmed to Carry Stereo Speakers

In something of a surprise, Friday's launch of the iPad mini will apparently mark the first time an iOS device carries stereo speakers. It appears that Apple's move to the smaller Lightning dock connector has left enough space for an additional speaker along the bottom edge of the device, although the company has elected not to make a similar addition to the fourth-generation iPad.

There has been speculation about the iPad mini's speaker setup ever since early case designs leaked showing two sets of small holes, one on each side of the Lightning port. Similar setups have been seen on iPhone models with one side housing a speaker and the other side a microphone for phone conversations. iPad models have, however, until now only contained a single off-center speaker grille.

Diagram from Apple's iPad mini tech specs page

Apple did little to clear up the speculation at the iPad mini introduction last week, making no mention of stereo speakers and using the singular "speaker" on its tech specs page addressing the device's input/output capabilities. Amazon seized upon the assumption that the iPad mini did not contain stereo speakers, using it as part of a checklist comparison touting the Kindle Fire HD on its front page.

But when the first wave of advance reviews of the iPad mini were released last night, The Verge's Joshua Topolsky mentioned that the device does indeed contain stereo speakers. Topolsky later highlighted the feature in a Tweet, noting that it had been confirmed by Apple.

Dual speaker grilles on iPad mini (Source: The Verge)

Seeking further confirmation, a 9to5Mac reader emailed Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller to ask about the situation, and Schiller responded to simply state "It is stereo." Notably, Amazon has since removed the comparison checklist between the Kindle Fire HD and the iPad mini from its main page.

Apple's 2012 Annual Report: More Employees, More Office Space, More Sales

NewImageApple today filed its 2012 annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the document reveals a few interesting tidbits of information:

- Apple now has 72,800 "full-time equivalent" employees, up from 60,400 last year. The company also went from employing 2,900 "full-time equivalent" temporary employees and contractors to 3,300. 42,400 "full-time equivalent" employees are in the retail division, up from 36,000 last year.

- Apple went from 357 stores at the end of fiscal 2011 to 390 stores at the end of fiscal 2012, up 33 from the year prior. Apple earned an average of $51.5 million per store, up from $43.3 million last year. The average number of "full-time equivalent" employees per store grew from 100.8 to 108.7. Apple expects to open 30-35 new stores in 2013, with 75% of those located outside the US.

The Company’s headquarters are located in Cupertino, California. As of September 29, 2012, the Company owned or leased approximately 17.3 million square feet of building space, primarily in the U.S., and to a lesser extent, in Europe, Japan, Canada, and the Asia-Pacific regions. Of that amount approximately 10.9 million square feet was leased building space, which includes approximately 4.1 million square feet related to retail store space. Of the Company’s owned building space, approximately 2.6 million square feet that is located in Cupertino, California will be demolished to build a second corporate campus. Additionally, the Company owns a total of 1,077 acres of land in various locations.

As of September 29, 2012, the Company owned a manufacturing facility in Cork, Ireland that also housed a customer support call center and facilities in Elk Grove, California that included warehousing and distribution operations and a customer support call center. The Company also owned land in Austin, Texas where it will build office space and a customer support call center. In addition, the Company owned facilities for research and development and corporate functions in Cupertino, California, including land for the future development of the Company’s second corporate campus. The Company also owned data centers in Newark, California; Maiden, North Carolina; and Prineville, Oregon. Outside the U.S., the Company owned additional facilities for various purposes.
- As this document is designed mainly for prospective and current investors in the company, Apple also lists a number of risk factors that could affect investments in the company. These include "[Apple] could be found to have infringed on intellectual property rights", the ability to "successfully manage frequent product introductions and transitions", "the Company’s ability to obtain components in sufficient quantities", and numerous more.

- Unlike last year, when Apple said it had no plans to pay a dividend,
the company now "expects to pay quarterly dividends in the future."

The document is thick with financial information, including breakdowns of all sorts related to how the company makes money, invests its money, and pays taxes, among other things.