Apple is relying on factories in China more than ever

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Analyst claims iPhone shipments collapsed 35% in China last month
China continues to be the epicenter of Apple's manufacturing.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple may be trying to wean itself off manufacturing in China, but despite its use of factories in Brazil and India, it’s actually relying on China more than ever.

According to Reuters, the majority of Apple suppliers have become increasingly concentrated in China. Although Apple uses small factories outside the country, these are typically used only for small domestic runs.

Apple could make AirPods outside China for first time

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AirPods1
Apple is looking at new places to build its devices.
Photo: Apple

Apple is gearing up to carry out a trial production of AirPods in Vietnam. This is as part of Apple’s aim to expand manufacturing outside of China.

Earlier this summer, Apple asked its suppliers to explore manufacturing in other markets. This was at a time when concerns about possible China tariffs were at their height.

More Apple suppliers looking to manufacture outside China

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Apple display maker exec fired for embezzling millions of dollars
This could be one way around tariffs.
Photo: Kristal Chan/Cult of Mac

Two more manufacturers which regularly do work with Apple are eying up new potential plant locations outside of China. Wistron is reportedly looking to open a factory in the U.S. or, as a backup, Mexico. Chassis maker Catcher is, meanwhile, looking at Southeast Asia or Taiwan as locations.

This comes at a time when fears about a burgeoning trade war between China and the U.S. is making people worried about possible future trade.

Apple cuts production of older iPhones with new models ‘on track’

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iPhone xs xr compared
Sales of the iPhone XR are said to be falling fastest.
Photo: Apple

Apple has cut production of older iPhone models for the third quarter of 2019, according to a new report from analysts.

The move suggests that demand for the company’s more affordable devices has started falling. Meanwhile, manufacturing is on track for Apple’s next-generation handsets coming this fall.

Apple doubles the number of suppliers committed to green energy

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Apple supplier 2
Apple has worked hard to cement its environmental cred.
Photo: Apple

Apple shows an impressive commitment to sustainability, particularly when it comes to clean energy.

Today, it revealed that it has almost doubled the number of suppliers committed to running their Apple production on 100% clean energy. This brings the total number to 44. It means that Apple will exceed — by 1 gigawatt — its goal of bringing 4 gigawatts of renewable energy into its supply chain by 2020.

After Trump call, Foxconn recommits to Wisconsin factory

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Foxconn Wisconsin
Foxconn is recruiting temporary workers to build new iPhones.
Photo: Foxconn

How a Foxconn factory in Wisconsin takes shape depends on what day of the week it is.

Today, company CEO Terry Gou is committing to a “Gen 6 fab facility” in the dairy state after having a “personal conversation with President Donald Trump.

How many jobs will come with a Gen 6 fab facility or what exactly it will build is not known. A Gen 6 factory typically builds screens for smartphones, tablets and small televisions.

Foxconn says it can’t afford to make TV screens in Wisconsin

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Foxconn signing
Foxconn and University Wisconsin officials signing a deal for a research center.
Photo: Bryce Richter/University of Wisconsin-Madison

Foxconn, which promised to create 13,000 jobs with a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin, won’t be producing state-of-the-art TV screens here as planned.

The news may not come as a big surprise to critics of the deal, which gave the iPhone maker the richest subsidy package in the state’s history. Foxconn has already forfeited some of those tax credits after it missed 2018 hiring goals.

Lack of screws put the hurt on Apple’s U.S. manufacturing plans

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Screws 1
This anecdote illustrates why U.S. manufacturing is so tough for Apple.
Photo: Gemma Stiles/Flickr CC

President Trump has suggested that Apple manufacture its devices in the United States. But things aren’t quite so easy as that — as a New York Times article makes clear.

It describes the challenges Apple faced when it tried making its top-of-the-line Mac Pro in the U.S. several years ago. One of the big problems? Simply, that Apple couldn’t get hold of enough screws to assemble the $3,000 computers in Austin, Texas.