Move over China! Japan wants to take over iPhone manufacturing

By

Larry Kudlow
Tim Cook meeting an iPhone manufacturer in China.
Photo: Apple

Being an Apple manufacturer is a pretty lucrative market if you can get in on it, which is why it’s no surprise to hear that Apple’s existing partners are constantly fending off challenges from upstarts promising to do whatever they can do — only cheaper and better.

According to a new report, Japanese manufacturers are currently making a concerted effort to secure more orders from Apple, which currently deals mainly with companies based in Taiwan and China.

If the Japan-based companies do manage to muscle-in on the Apple supply chain, it could result in iPhone manufacturing becoming even more of an international affair than it already is, while also having a potentially massive impact on existing Chinese iPhone makers.

The main Japan-based company mentioned in today’s report is printed circuit board maker Ibiden, which is said to be trying to steal away iPhone orders from Apple’s existing PCB suppliers, Unimicron Technology, Unitech Printed Circuit Board and Compeq Manufacturing.

If Ibiden obtains Apple’s orders it will likely shift production to its plant in Malaysia.

Ibiden’s not the only Japanese company trying to muscle in on turf occupied by existing Apple manufacturers, either. Japan-based Nippon Mektron has also reportedly lowered its prince quotes recently, which could challenge existing Taiwan-based iPhone contractors Zhen Ding Technology Holding and Flexium Interconnect.

Apple already works with Japanese smartphone display maker Japan Display. Recently it was reported that Apple has struck a deal with the company to build a $1.4 billion factory dedicated solely to smartphone displays. This plant is set to open near the central Japanese city of Ishikawa.

Apple has also announced plans to build a massive 15,000-square meter R&D center in Yokohama, Japan, which will be one of Apple’s biggest such facilities in Asia, although it’s not yet known what it will be used for.

With India also pushing for a piece of the manufacturing pie, it seems that China may not be Apple’s biggest production base for too much longer.

Source: Digitimes