Fair Labor Association Shares Initial Impressions of Foxconn Audit: The Fair Labor Association began its full audit of Foxconn‘s (PINK:FXCNY) iPad manufacturing facilities in China on Monday, an inspection that Apple hopes will its sullied image. While the audit is ongoing, FLA president Auret van Heerden shared some initial impressions on the conditions at Foxconn’s facilities with Reuters on Wednesday. It was surprising, considering reports of employee suicides, explosions, and slave-labor conditions, that van Heerden said, “The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm.” He went on to say that the conditions at these electronics manufacturing plants don’t suffer from the same “intensity and burnout” problems that often plague garment manufacturing facilities. Van Heerden insisted, however, that though conditions at Foxconn are better than expected, this doesn’t mean that the manufacturer has been exonerated of labor abuses. Apple’s cooperation with the FLA is a good sign, though. “If Apple wanted to take the easy way out,” van Heerden said, “there were a whole host of options available to them. The fact that they joined the FLA shows they were really serious about raising their game.”
Siri Says “Konichiwa,” Speaks Japanese: Apple’s voice-controlled iPhone personal assistant is still building its repertoire of supported languages. While rumors have suggested in the past that the service would speak Mandarin, Russian, and Japanese in the near future, Siri itself claims it already speaks Japanese. When asked what languages it speaks, Siri currently responds, “I can speak French, English, Japanese, and German… but I’m always learning.” Apple previously indicated that those languages, other than English, would be coming to Siri later in 2012. Siri is also expected to support Korean, Spanish, and Italian later this year. The question now is: Does Siri titter uncontrollably when it hears its own name in Japanese?
Gartner Names Apple No. 1 Smartphone Vendor in 2011: Research group Gartner said in its latest mobile phone market report that 472 million smartphones were sold in 2011. Apple sold the most, with the iPhone accounting for 19% of all smartphone sales for the year, and nearly 24% of all smartphone sales during the fourth quarter of the year. The company performed so well last year that it became the No. 3 overall mobile phone manufacturer, trailing only Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK).
As of this writing, Anthony John Agnello did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. Follow him on Twitter at @ajohnagnello and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook. For more from the company, check out our previous Apple Rumors stories.