$50 price bump for Trump’s U.S. iPhones is just as realistic as his hair

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Yeah, we're pretty incredulous about your ideas, too, Mr. Trump.
The brief has been successful despite support from big companies.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC

Would you shell out an extra $50 for your iPhone if it were made in the United States?

Maybe, but getting consumers to pay more isn’t even the most unrealistic aspect of Donald Trump’s goal of forcing Apple to bring manufacturing back to America.

Presidential candidate Trump made headlines this week when he declared that, if elected, he’d force Apple to start building “their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.”

That’s just the kind of populist, ignorant thing my crazy uncle might say while he sits in his armchair at the annual family holiday. It’s also pretty unrealistic.

The estimated $50 price bump for a U.S.-made iPhone comes from iFixit’s Kyle Wiens, who knows a thing or two about manufacturing. Motherboard asked him what it might cost to build an iPhone here in the United States.

“Building [Apple products] in the U.S. isn’t impossible,” Wiens said, “but a matter of whether or not consumers are willing to pay more for them.”

Wiens’ informal math shows iPhones costing an extra $50 per unit if they were merely assembled in the United States.

While an extra $50 an iPhone doesn’t sound too bad (though there are plenty of people unwilling to pay for iPhones at current prices), the realities of modern manufacturing almost preclude a U.S.-based workforce.

Even if consumers were willing to pay more, bringing manufacturing jobs back here from China — and having American workers perform at overseas levels — ignores many other factors. If Apple were to pursue such a strategy, it would also cost more up front and in the long run to source only U.S.-made components.

There are also pesky U.S. labor laws to contend with, as well as how American workers expect to be treated.

As a former director at Foxconn, Apple’s main manufacturing partner in China, told Motherboard, the Chinese company has in the past had to send 1,000 machinists more than 1,000 miles across the country in just a few days, without business coming to a screaming halt.

“Can you imagine the governor of Michigan saying, ‘I need 1,000 machinists in Detroit by Friday’? Could you do it?” he asked.

The answer to that is, Mr. Trump, fairly clear.

Trump may be the front-runner for the Republican nomination, but that doesn’t mean he really understands what it would take to get any major company to bring its manufacturing back to the United States.

The reality is a lot more complex than a simple sound bite can convey.

Source: Motherboard

  • If Donald Trump is elected president, I call dibs on the part of the cotton field with the most shade.

    • MattinChicago

      That sounds good… but do you actually have the skills and work ethic necessary to efficiently pick cotton?

  • Kris Planker

    Frankly, this article is a tad too speculative for my taste. Never thought I’d see CoM stoop to political ramblings, or bad math.

    AAPL already manufactures the Mac Pro in the US, and the iMac is partially, if not fully made in Ireland. iPhones could easily be made in the US with a fraction of the staff found in Foxconn’s gigantic sweatshops. Add in the corporate tax cuts that he’s proposing and you have if anything a savings on iPhone prices.

    This isn’t to say that I support Trump, just that it’s unfair to attack him when you pay attention to half the facts on a company you happen to report solely on.

    And the hair is (at least appears to be) real, under close examination. Combed to cover his bald spot(s), sure. Totally ridiculous, yes. But it is in fact real hair.

    • MattinChicago

      Dude, stop interrupting the righteous Trump-hate with logic and facts. :)

      • Grzegorz Brzeczyszczykiewicz

        Dude, nobody hates logical Trump. Hate is directed towards the people who allow the Trump circus to continue.

      • Seiji

        you must be one of those fgts that allowed tusk circus to continue?

      • Grzegorz Brzeczyszczykiewicz

        Before you comment, either proof read or don’t do it when you’re drunk, ok?

    • IronMan

      Kris – You are Donald Trump with a fake ID right ?

    • David Strom

      Exactly. I think Trump is a demagogue, but the thrust of this article is that building in China is better because they can treat workers badly. We save $50 by exploiting Chinese people. So Trump is an idiot for suggesting that things would be better if Apple manufactured in America.

      Frankly that is a pretty unattractive argument.

      Keep in mind that Apple’s strategy is going after the most affluent customers who claim to be exquisitely sensitive to labor and environmental concerns.

      Apple is about as wealthy as can be, as are its customers. You had better come up with a better argument than “you can save a few $$$ if you are willing to screw poorer Americans and Chinese.”

      • Kris Planker

        Keep in mind that while they target the affluent, its not hard to find a large amount of people unemployed, on food stamps, and using brand new iPads. If you market something smaller than a fridge as a luxury item, the less fortunate will buy it because they wish they could simply afford it. Those people’s priorities probably won’t be in check any time soon, but if everything we buy was built here, if the whole outside world had to buy things made in our factories, those people would at least have jobs, and our society would have less unemployed. The surplus entitlement money could lower taxes, fix our schools or roads, take care of our veterans, become grants towards curing diseases, help the homeless……

        An argument that focuses on less than 4 key points is, deliberately, skipping a few things. Nothing consice has 4 points, this article is a key example.

      • tralalalalalala50

        Stop being manipulated by android fan boys.

        The iPhone is not a luxury item. It’s value per cost is far above any android phone because the device is supported longer with updates and the components last longer.

        Additionally the iPhone actually retains value so it can be resold and has a better ecosystem of apps to support education and self-improvement.

  • Chad

    Sooooooo……how about, being that Apple takes 95% of the profit from smartphone sales worldwide, and 65-70% of every iPhone sold is profit, and Apple is the richest company in the world by far! Put the “damn” phones together in the us as Trump says, and Apple, you eat the $50 loss instead of the customer so you only make 60-65% profit from each phone which in return will give you a significant boost in sales of everything you sell and that $50 “loss” will actually be a gain of $10-$50. You really couldn’t figure this out yourself Apple? But hey, get rid of the headphone jack everyone uses and keep charging the same price or raise it yet again which will force most people to upgrade other hardware instead of doing, say, the above! That’s why Mr.Trump is 100% correct. I’m in Canada and know Trump is what you need in the US, Canada’s economy will benefit greatly from his presidency, but from the comments I’ve read here I meant to say…no comment!

    • Pedro Nuno

      Im not an American and so, I don’t vote. I don’t like Trump at all but I have to say that I agree with you when you say Apple should make the iPhones on America and just make less profit from them, rather than make the iPhones more expensive to customers. But there´s a major problem with this and its shareholders that have only one purpose in live, make money. They don’t give a crap about anything else.

      • tralalalalalala50

        You don’t like the media filter that has preprocessed Trump for you to hate. With every quote taken out of context and blatant misrepresentation, I’m not surprised you think you don’t like Trump.

      • Pedro Nuno

        I don’t need the media to make me not to like Trump, bush, cheney or Hitler. Its one of those things, you look at the person, you ear them talking and you just don’t like the person. Sorry.

      • tralalalalalala50

        Hillary says much worse things in her attacks on liberty, but she disguises them in elite speech. A Trump America is a better America.

  • petervandever

    Trump wouldnt know anything about business….right lol

  • LemonB

    All this article confirms is that Americans have a shabby work ethic and have no desire to excel. How tragic that our country has for the most part become a bunch of lazy complaining slobs that want everything for free. No wonder the rest of the planet hates us.

  • tralalalalalala50

    It is actually quite reasonable.

    One of the reason our taxes are so high is that we let corporations pay far below livable wages with the assumption that our taxes will then pay the difference.

    So many of the people that would work in these jobs have been kicked out of the job market and are dependent entirely on taxes.

    It would be easy to give the poor and low middle class these jobs, raise the cost of the iPhone and lower the taxes because we wouldn’t have to support these people entirely on tax money.

    Also, we know that people value having jobs and enjoy meaningful lives. When they have these jobs, they also behave differently and contribute to the economy.

    tl;dr: lower taxes, raise wages, raise prices. For a net positive gain on the US economy. It’s not our job to prop up the corrupt chinese govt. with our innovation.

    • informed

      Your paragraphs in order:

      A) Huge difference between “reasonable” and “practical.”
      B) Our taxes are at the lowest levels in history.
      C) Our taxes don’t pay for anyone to work unless they have government jobs.
      D) Is it “easy” to “give” people jobs? What planet do you live on?
      E) Can’t argue with you there.
      F) Raise taxes on the people making the most, incentivise pay raises, base price on real and relative value. The economy will always gain from greater participation. In actual fact, the corrupt chinese govt props up our greedy corporations.

      The Donald is only interested in helping the Donald. If you believe he has your best interests at heart, you should listen a little closer.