Is Apple laying off or staffing up?

March 11, 2009, 2:06 PM UTC

It’s hard to make sense of the conflicting reports of recent layoffs at Apple (AAPL). Valleywag’s gossip editor in two separate posts said as many as 50 employees were laid off here and there. Apple PR flatly denied the first report and went semi-mum about the second. Then CNET’s Tom Krazit interviewed several unnamed sources who said they were indeed called into a conference room and handed white manila walking papers in the presence of plainclothes security officers. (link)

It’s all quite puzzling. Why would Apple bother to comment on rumors of a few dozen purported layoffs — out of a full-time workforce of roughly 32,000 — when, for example, Cisco (CSCO) is laying off a couple thousand workers, IBM (IBM) a couple thousand more, and Microsoft (MSFT) at least 5,000? (link)

It makes even less sense when you look at whom Apple is hiring. Apple’s Job Opportunities list is publicly available here and always makes for interesting reading.

For example, a quick search of the current listings shows that Apple has posted 338 new job openings since Jan. 1, 2009, the vast majority for full-time positions. While the sun was still rising on the East Coast Wednesday there were already a dozen new listings for jobs in Ireland and Austin, Texas, ranging from AppleCare customer relations to royalty accountant.

On Investor Village’s AAPL Sanity board (registration required), Dan Butterfield, publisher of iPhonAsia, posted a snapshot of some of the job openings that Apple listed on Tuesday. They include a tooling engineering manager,  a product design engineer, a compiler back-end engineer, a principal panel electronics architect, a couple engineering project managers and an application specialist, Chinese. (See below.) As Butterfield writes, “Apple is clearly NOT crawling into a shell to wait the the ‘doom and gloom’ reports to abate.”

Apple has not yet responded to our request for comment.