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.

We talk an all-new MacBook Pro, the return of MagSafe, and inside Apple’s megafactories, on The CultCast

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CultCast 383
Reports say a redesigned MacBook Pro is on the way...

This week on The CultCast: Apple’s readying a totally redesigned MacBook Pro with next-gen display! We discuss. Plus: Apple’s working on the next generation of MagSafe! Thank the gods. And we take a fascinating look at the unbelievable scale and size of Apple’s megafactories, from a bonus chapter of Leander’s new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level.

Our thanks to Squarespace for supporting this episode. Easily create a beautiful website all by yourself, at Squarespace.com/cultcast. Use offer code CultCast at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain..

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

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Video tour dives deep inside Apple Park
Video tour dives deep inside 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.

How Apple’s Operations department works [Cook book outtakes]

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Two Apple operations workers in a factory
Apple's operations, which Tim Cook headed up, is one of the company's secret weapons.
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.

Apple is famous for design and marketing, but a large part of the company’s success is due to the incredibly complex and efficient manufacturing organization Tim Cook masterminded with Steve Jobs.

No matter how beautiful its products are, the company would go nowhere without a world-class manufacturing and distribution operation that can make millions of devices in the utmost secrecy, to the highest possible standards, and deliver them efficiently all over the globe.

It’s an operation unprecedented in the history of industry. When Jobs and Cook started in 1998, Apple was doing $6 billion in business annually. It now does that every 10 days.

How Apple is like the army [Cook book outtakes]

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Army badges and logos
Apple is a functional organization, like the army.
Photo: Mike McDonald, royalty-free image

Tim Cook book outtakes 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.

Apple is a functional organization. It’s not organized along business lines, split into divisions like the iPhone division, the Mac division and the Apple TV division, the way, say a company like Ford has the Lincoln division for its luxury cars, a trucks division, a parts division and so on.

Instead, Apple is organized around functions: design, hardware, software, internet services. In this way, Apple operates like the biggest functional organization on the planet: the military.

A brief history of Steve Jobs’ automated factory at NeXT [Cook book leftovers]

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Inside Next Factory in Fremont
In 1990, Steve Jobs built another highly-automated factory, where robots did almost all of the assembly of NeXT computers.
Photo: Terrence McCarthy, used with permission.

Tim Cook book outtakes

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 Apple’s manufacturing operations.

This is Part 2 of a two-part section on Apple’s misadventures in manufacturing. Part I is here.

Steve Jobs carried his dream of end-to-end control over manufacturing to NeXT, the company that Jobs founded after being booted out of Apple in 1985. It was here that he learned a tough lesson about manufacturing: that sometimes it’s more trouble than it is worth. Or, perhaps more kindly, that great manufacturing capabilities mean nothing if you don’t have a product people want to buy.

A brief history of Apple’s misadventures in manufacturing: Part 1 [Cook book outtakes]

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Apple Macintosh Factory of the future in Fremont
Steve Jobs built a highly automated Macintosh plant grandly called the "factory of the future."
Photo: Apple Maps

Tim Cook book outtakes 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. Over the next week or so, we will be publishing several more sections that were cut, focusing mostly on Apple’s manufacturing operations.

Steve Jobs always had a deep fascination with automated factories. He was first exposed to them during a trip to Japan in 1983. At the time, Apple had just created a new floppy disk drive called Twiggy. During a visit to Apple’s factory in San Jose, however, Jobs became irate when he discovered the high failure rate of Twiggy drives Apple was producing. More than half of them were rejected. Jobs threatened to fire everyone who worked at the factory