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Apple beefing up Asian operations for more frequent launches in 'wider' product range

Apple has reportedly added hundreds of engineering and supply chain management personnel in mainland China and Taiwan in recent months — many poached from rival handset maker HTC — as the company gears up to expand its product line and shrink manufacturing lead times.

Apple has specifically targeted key employees from HTC and Taiwanese contract manufacturers like Inventec and Quanta Computer, according to the Wall Street Journal. While core research and development will remain in California, the company wants to streamline the development process for components such as touchscreens and cameras that require working directly with Asian hardware partners.

One reason for the surge is said to be Apple's desire to launch a "wider range" of products, with recruiting advertisements apparently placing those yet-unannounced devices in the iPhone camp.

"Apple is building an engineering team in Taipei to drive new iPhone product development," read one hiring solicitation. The company broke with tradition last year when it release two new iPhone models simultaneously, and whispers suggest that Apple may follow up with two new, even more disparate iPhones later this year that sport larger displays and all-new industrial designs.

Rumors also point to the release of a wrist-worn device, dubbed the "iWatch" by Apple watchers, and a next-generation Apple TV featuring access to live television channels and a third-party App Store. Apple chief Tim Cook stoked those fires last month when he said that the company was prepping devices that any "reasonable" person would consider to be new product categories.

In addition, Apple is said to be adding to the cadre of employees that ensure compliance with the company's supplier code of conduct. Many of Apple's upstream suppliers and contract manufacturing partners have been implicated in worker safety and recruitment scandals in recent months, practices that Apple executives have repeatedly denounced.

Between its offices in Shanghai and Taipei, Apple's Asian workforce is now believed to be more than 600 strong. The company also maintains a modest workforce in Hong Kong, where Apple is believed to be preparing to build a datacenter that would serve the fast-growing markets in mainland China and Japan.