Apple and Foxconn, a history [Cook book outtakes]

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Foxconn workers spell company's name
Workers spell out the company's name at one of Foxconn's giant plants.
Photo: Foxconn

Tim Cook book outtakes: How Apple's Operations department works This post was going to be part of my new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, but was cut for length or continuity. Over the next week or so, we will be publishing several more sections that were cut, focusing mostly on geeky details of Apple’s manufacturing operations.

Foxconn was founded around the same time as Apple, although 6,000 miles away on the other side of the world. In 1974, when 19-year-old Steve Jobs was working at Atari, 24-year-old Terry Gou borrowed $7,500 ($37,000 in today’s money) from his mother to start up a business.

How Ops operates back at Apple HQ [Cook book outtakes]

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Blind survey
Operations accounts for a big part of the staff headcount at Apple Park.
Photo: Duncan Sinfield

Tim Cook book outtakes: How Apple's Operations department works This post was going to be part of my new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, but was cut for length or continuity. Over the next week or so, we will be publishing several more sections that were cut, focusing mostly on geeky details of Apple’s manufacturing operations.

As iPhone growth exploded, Apple struggled to keep up with demand. Every year, the number of iPhones sold would double, which meant that Apple kept adding new suppliers and assembly operations to keep up. It was a monumental struggle.

Inside Apple’s factories [Cook book outtakes]

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Apple factory workers in China
Workers examine a camera module in one of Apple's factories in China.
Photo: Apple

Tim Cook book outtakes: How Apple's Operations department works This post was going to be part of my new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, but was cut for length or continuity. Over the next week or so, we will be publishing several more sections that were cut, focusing mostly on geeky details of Apple’s manufacturing operations.

A good measure of the size of Apple’s manufacturing operations is its capital expenditure, the amount of money spends on things like buildings and equipment.

Apple’s capital expenditure, or CapEx, is mindboggling. To get an idea of how big it is, take Apple’s new spaceship campus in Cupertino – which is the fourth most expensive building in the world. It cost the company an estimated $5 billion to construct.

Apple spends a similar amount every six months on manufacturing equipment.

Today in Apple history: MacBook Air becomes ‘world’s thinnest notebook’

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A plain manila envelope became a key stage prop for selling the MacBook Air.
A plain manila envelope became a key prop for selling the MacBook Air.
Photo: Apple

January 15: Today in Apple history: MacBook Air becomes 'world's thinnest notebook' January 15, 2008: Steve Jobs shows off the first MacBook Air at the Macworld conference, calling the revolutionary computer the “world’s thinnest notebook.”

The 13.3-inch laptop measures only 0.76 inches at its thickest point and 0.16 inches at its tapered thinnest. It also boasts a unibody aluminum design: An Apple engineering breakthrough allows the crafting of a complicated computer case from a single block of finely machined metal.

In a brilliant piece of showmanship, Jobs pulls the super-slim laptop out of a standard interoffice envelope during his keynote. (You can watch his introduction of the MacBook Air below).

If you think iPhones are expensive now, try making them in USA

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Terry Gou
These assembly workers could be American instead of Chinese if we’re willing to pay a lot more for our iPhones.
Photo: Foxconn

There’s a good chance the iPhone and other Apple products will be hit with tariffs in the Trump administration’s trade war with China. The president has repeatedly stated his simple solution: Make the iPhone in the United States.

But an analyst warns that moving assembly of Apple’s handsets to the U.S. would significantly increase their price.

iPhone is made in America, Tim Cook insists

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Tim Cook says iPhone is an American product
Workers in Texas produce components for the iPhone X. Many parts for Apple's products are made in this country.
Photo: Apple

It clearly makes Tim Cook angry that people think the iPhone is made in China. “It’s not true that iPhone isn’t built in the United States,” Apple’s CEO said today.

The design work definitely happens in the United States. However, Cook points out that Apple suppliers produce many components in this country as well.

Ex-Apple engineer tells how the company’s manufacturing works

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Instrumental founder and CEO Anna Katrina Shedletsky
Instrumental founder and CEO Anna Katrina Shedletsky, who is using her experience as an Apple product design engineer to bring AI to manufacturing.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Almost all electronic products are still assembled by hand, even hundreds of millions of iPhones.

But that’s changing. Apple’s supply chain is rapidly automating using AI and robots.

At the forefront of this is an ex-Apple product design engineer, Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, who is using her expertise to help other manufacturers build their products.

On this episode of the Apple Chat podcast, we talk to Shedletsky about her new AI startup, Instrumental; Apple’s giant manufacturing operation; the role of product design; and much more.

If you’re curious how Apple makes its products, listen to the podcast or check out the full transcript below.

Former Apple product design engineer reveals how Apple runs its factories

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Instrumental CEO Anna-Katrina Shedletsky
Anna Katrina Shedletsky is a former Apple product design engineer who is using her experience to build AI that helps companies streamline manufacturing.
Photo: Instrumental

On this week’s Apple Chat (the podcast formerly known as Kahney’s Korner): I talk with former Apple product design engineer Anna-Katrina Shedletsky about her take on modern manufacturing and how AI will revolutionize factories. She introduces us to her new company, Instrumental, which is using machine learning to help manufacturers identify and fix problems on their assembly lines.

Using her hard-earned experience at Apple overseeing the production of the first Apple Watch and several generations of the iPod, Shedletsky says machine learning is coming fast to manufacturing. Amazingly, almost all consumer electronics products are still assembled by hand — including hundreds of millions of iPhones.

But that’s changing. Manufacturing is undergoing a huge sea change with the advance of robotics and AI.

Tim Cook reveals $1 billion fund to boost U.S. manufacturing

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Apple wants to help spark a manufacturing boom in the US.
Apple wants to help spark a manufacturing boom in the US.
Photo: CNBC

Apple is making a $1 billion investment aimed at boosting high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States, CEO Tim Cook said today.

“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we get more people to do advanced manufacturing in the United States?'” Cook said during an interview with Mad Money’s Jim Cramer at Apple Campus today. “And I’m proud to tell you that we’re creating an advanced manufacturing fund. We’re initially putting $1 billion in the fund.”