Will the Future Bring a More Home-Grown Apple?
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has often been criticized for its large overseas manufacturing base, but over the past year, several of the company’s component suppliers have begun increasing their U.S. production. While it’s practically impossible to tell exactly how much of the company’s products are truly built in the U.S, the percentage has certainly gone up.
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Speaking at the All Things Digital conference in May, chief executive Tim Cook mentioned that ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) processors were being built in Austin, Texas, and that Corning (NYSE:GLW) Gorilla Glass was manufactured in Kentucky. But Apple Insider makes the point that several other component makers, including Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) and Avago Technologies (NASDAQ:AVGO), have begun increasing their respective stateside production capacities.
Avago, which makes a custom part for the iPhone 4S that allows one handset model to connect to multiple forms of wireless networks, is reported to be expanding its manufacturing processes in Fort Collins, Colorado, and is planning to buy $130 million worth of equipment. Texas Instruments is also increasing production at its Texas-based chip fabrication factories and has generated “thousands of jobs” in the U.S. In addition to its power management chips for mobile devices, TI also makes a touch screen controller for the iPhone 4S and a power management chip for the new third-generation iPad.
The San Jose-based Fairchild Semiconductor (NYSE:FCS), which makes power supply chips for iOS devices, is also said to be producing over capacity at its American facilities in South Portland, Maine, and West Jordan, Utah, and is adding equipment. Widely rumored to be an Apple supplier, Maxim Integrated Products (NASDAQ:MXIM), a semiconductor manufacturer based in San Jose, recently started a multi-year investment to expand its facilities. The company has plants in San Antonio and Dallas, as well as in Beaverton, Oregon, and San Jose, California.
Then there are Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), based in San Diego, California, Amperex Technology in Brooklyn, New York, TriQuint Semiconductor (NASDAQ:TQNT) in Beaverton, Oregon, and Cirrus Logic (NASDAQ:CRUS) in Austin, Texas, which all contribute to iOS devices.
But while domestic component production has gone up, most final assembly still takes place abroad, where manufacturers like Foxconn put together the final product.
And Cook was unsure that particular part of the process was coming back to the U.S. anytime soon. “Could that (assembly) be done in the U.S.? I sure hope so,” he said at the conference. “But look, how many tool-and-die makers do you know in America? I could ask them to come here tonight and we couldn’t fill this room.”
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