During a recent Presidential candidate debate, Republican candidate and business magnate Donald Trump said that he could get Apple to bring its production to the US, but can he actually make something like that happen?
While Apple used to build its products in the US in its early days, the company now manufactures most of its products overseas in China, where it contracts Foxconn to assemble millions of iPhones and iPads every year.
The company has been proactive about US production and recently began manufacturing its Mac Pro in the US, but Apple’s most popular products are still sourced in China.
However, Donald Trump thinks he can persuade Tim Cook and company to bring its manufacturing back to the US for good:
“We’re going to get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries.”
A well-said statement from a potential President of the United States of America.
We’re not sure if he knows that some of Apple’s products are already manufactured in the US, but like many people, Trump may not know where most of his gadgets came from, except taking an obvious guess and picking China.
Many people think Trump is out of his mind for even thinking that Apple would want to bring its manufacturing back to the States, but back in 2011, President Barack Obama is said to have done the same thing.
Obama asked Apple co-founder and then-CEO Steve Jobs about what it would take to make iPhones in the US. Jobs replied with a frank, “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”
However, two years later, Apple moved its Mac Pro production to the US, so there’s still some hope that the iPhone could come back to the US, right? Probably not.
During a CBS 60 Minutes interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook, the head honcho says that the US simply doesn’t have the skills necessary to manufacture the iPhone, or at least there’s not enough workers in the US that could do it.
Cook says that many of the vocational skills that are needed to make Apple products aren’t taught as widely as they are in China:
“I mean, you can take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in a room that we’re currently sitting in. In China, you would have to have multiple football fields.”
Whether or not this is actually true could probably be debated, but it can also be argued that another big reason why Apple manufactures in China is because of lower labor costs.
Carl Howe, Vice President of data sciences at the Yankee Group (speaking with MarketPlace.org), says that “labor costs [in the US] are somewhere in the vicinity of two to three times what they’re going to be in China.”
However, labor costs isn’t the whole story. You also have all of the different factories that make the individual parts that go into the iPhone, and there are a ton of components in an iPhone. Furthermore, there could be as many as two or three sources just for one individual component that goes into an iPhone.
So when you zoom out, iPhone production is an absolutely massive undertaking, so bringing all of that to the US would be nearly impossible. Plus it would put millions of people out of jobs in China (yes, millions), so it’s a good bet that China would heavily resist such a move.
In the end, most iPhone users likely don’t care where their iPhone is made. If anything, users care more about whether or not the device they’re using was ethically made.
In today’s world, most people are concerned with labor laws and making sure their clothes weren’t made in a sweatshop, or that their iPhones weren’t assembled by child laborers, and it turns out that Apple is in the hot seat currently with a new child labor scandal hitting the presses.