Most products in the US are manufactured in China, but expensive products from luxury brands are typically made in their home countries. And Apple is perhaps the most expensive technology brand on earth. So why can’t they make their products in the US? Well, the answer Apple would give is that they do. The Mac Pro is made in America, unless you live in Europe. And the parts Apple uses for many products are sourced from US companies. Like the Corning Gorilla glass used on iPhone’s display.
But that answer doesn’t make much sense. If you’re sourcing parts from the US, wouldn’t it be easier to assemble them there too?
Well, that’s actually what Apple used to do with the Mac. But when the iPod was being developed, they knew their existing factories in California wouldn’t be able to handle the manufacturing. Not only since it would become a much higher-selling product than the Mac, but also because Apple wanted to update the product annually. Factories in the US were slower and less nimble than those in Asia. Not to mention more expensive.
Time Cook’s decision
Tim Cook, who at the time was senior vice president for worldwide operations set a plan in motion to shift manufacturing from the US to Taiwan and China. This change quickly paid off. As Apple was able to introduce not one, but two additional iPod models in the following years. With all three receiving annual updates. So, when the iPhone was in development, Apple knew China would be the perfect place for assembly. In fact, Steve Jobs decided to change the front panel of iPhone from plastic to glass just a few weeks before launch. This last-minute change forced 8,000 factory employees to work round-the-clock in twelve-hour shifts to change every iPhone’s front plate to glass. A feat that would have taken an American factory month to achieve.
So, the advantages to cost, speed, and scale are why so many Apple products are made in China. But they have been expanding manufacturing in recent years to India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. But there are still no plans to make iPhones in the US anytime soon.