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Apple's "Bavarian Design Center" in Munich is hardly known and can only be found near the main train station for initiates. However, it was founded in 2015 and has since grown to almost 300 engineers from more than 40 nations. The team continues to grow rapidly; around 80 new employees are added every year. Initially, the focus was on power management: In cooperation with teams at the headquarters in Cupertino, California, the Munich-based company developed several power management designs, including for the latest generation of iPhone 11, Phone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, which has just been introduced for the holiday season.
The power management unit is an indispensable chip in the device that is responsible for delivering the right amount of energy to the right component at the right time. It regulates and distributes power from the battery for everything you want to do on an iPhone. Ultimately, it can be compared to the function of a large public power grid, only in relation to a single smartphone. In addition to the power management activities, the company in Munich has expanded with teams that are now working on the design and testing of other areas, both in hardware and software. Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, visited this Munich location this week for the first time in his life - we were able to accompany him and watch his engineers at work.
Mr. Cook, did you come to Munich for the Oktoberfest or to meet German engineers?
Both! I was at the Oktoberfest, but of course today I'm also going to visit our Bavarian Design Center in Munich for the first time. We're already employing several hundred developers here, and we've grown strongly organically in recent years. It's nice to see how things are going here – I can take the opportunity to ask a thousand questions.
Speaking of development, when Apple introduces a new mobile phone, people are usually interested in the new camera. What's often overlooked is longer battery life. But there has been considerable progress in this area, as a glance at the data on the latest iPhones shows: Have your Munich developers already contributed to this and also your takeover of the chip manufacturer Dialog?
Well, we started to improve our energy management in the chips quite some time ago. And now it's all about taking that to a whole new level. It's about real progress in the user experience; that's the most important thing anyway. Speaking about Munich: German engineers have a great history of innovation and we have a team here that we couldn't put together elsewhere in the world. We find talents here that we wouldn't find anywhere else. We have the greatest interest in this location.
That's good to hear, but why is the location so attractive? Is it due to particularly good universities?
In fact, it's a whole bunch of reasons. If you move to Munich, you can feel that it is a great city, that people like to live here. Not everyone wants to live in Silicon Valley. Anyway, I can't imagine a better place.
And soon your acquisition of parts of Intel's mobile phone modem business with a large location in Neubiberg near Munich will be added. This is very much about the business with broadband mobile chips in the new 5G network...
Yes, that's right, it's not about power management, and not just about 5G either, but also about 6G. It's just a technology that we need to have in-house. It's about having full access to all major hardware technologies, from the system on the chip to the software.
To maintain the integrated approach of hardware and software that has been Apple's strategy since Steve Jobs?
That's right, it's about the integrated approach of hardware, software and services. This enables us to offer our users something that no one else can do. We will continue to rely on this in the future. There is no parallel to this in our industry.