Apple is looking to assemble MacBooks and Apple Watches in Vietnam to diversify its supply chain. The company’s vendors have so far manufactured these products in China.
Apple suppliers already assemble AirPods, iPads, and iPhone chargers in Vietnam. After China, it is the second largest manufacturing hub for the company.
Apple Watch production begins outside of China for the first time
A Nikkei Asia report claims that Luxshare Precision and Foxconn have started test production of the Apple Watch in north Vietnam. Unlike iPads, though, assembling the Apple Watch requires a higher level of technological skill. The move will allow the country to increase its importance in Apple’s supply chain.
As for MacBooks, Apple has asked for a test production line to be set up. But progress has been slow due to COVID-related lockdowns and the MacBook’s supply chain being a lot more complex.
Apple is also in discussions with its suppliers to manufacture the HomePod in the southeast Asian country. To facilitate the production of more of its devices, Apple has increased its suppliers in Vietnam from 14 in 2018 to 22 this year.
Apple has big plans for Vietnam
“AirPods, Apple Watch, HomePod and more … Apple has big plans in Vietnam, apart from iPhone manufacturing. The components for MacBooks have become more modularized than in the past, which makes it easier to produce the laptops outside of China. But how to make it cost-competitive is another challenge,” a source said.
The COVID-related lockdown in Shanghai had already forced Apple to move iPad production from China to Vietnam. First, China’s BYD started assembling iPads in the country, with Foxconn— Apple’s largest vendor— following suit.
Apple has also stepped up iPhone assemblies in India in recent months. The non-Pro iPhone 14 is expected to start shipping from Foxconn’s Indian facility around the same time as China — a first for the company.
Pandemic-related disruptions and the US-China tensions have forced Apple to look at other countries as its manufacturing hub. Recent COVID lockdowns in Shanghai disrupted the company’s MacBook Pro supply chain, leading to shipping times stretching into months.