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Tim Cook and Apple Make a Move That Could Annoy China

The iPhone maker wants to diversify its supply chain and expand in a crucial market.
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Apple  (AAPL) - Get Free Report no longer wants to be surprised. 

Like the rest of the multinationals, the iPhone maker has been impacted by the covid-19 pandemic which has exacerbated the disruptions in supply chains. 

The restrictive measures and lockdowns imposed in China to limit the spread of the virus have particularly affected the local suppliers of many Western companies. The zero-covid policy in China has been a nightmare for suppliers, forced again to temporarily close some of their factories or to have their employees work under exceptional conditions such as living on the production sites.

This dependence on China has raised many questions that companies have been trying to answer since the pandemic emerged. The most urgent is the diversification of the supply chain or trying to have suppliers both locally and in different regions of the world.

iPhone 14 Lead JS 090822

The iPhone 14 Will Also Be Produced in India

Apple has just answered it. The Cupertino, Calif.-based group will now produce some units of the new iPhone, the iPhone 14, in India, which is a big first.

"The new iPhone 14 lineup introduces groundbreaking new technologies and important safety capabilities. We’re excited to be manufacturing iPhone 14 in India,” the company said in a statement on Sept. 26, confirming speculation.

The iPhone 14 will be assembled in the country by Foxconn, Apple's historic supplier, which has a factory on the outskirts of Chennai. These phones will be sold locally in the next few days, but they will also be exported to other markets. 

Apple's decision also comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan. The Biden administration has banned chipmaker Nvidia  (NVDA) - Get Free Report from selling some of its chips to Chinese companies, for example. Beijing, for its part, has taken steps to develop its technology sector.

If Apple had been assembling iPhones in India since 2017, it was always old versions and not brand new ones. The iPhone 14 is the first newly launched smartphone Apple will assemble outside of China. It therefore marks a change in strategy on the part of CEO Tim Cook's group.

This decision allows Apple to accomplish two important things. 

The tech giant will diversify its supply chain even though the majority of iPhone production is still in China.

India, the New Eldorado

The decision also allows Apple to truly establish itself in a growing market where its market share is still very low. Indeed, Apple has only a market share of 3.8% in the second smartphone market in the world, according to a Counterpunch Research study on smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2022.

The Indian smartphone market is dominated by China's Xiaomi  (XIACY)  with a 19% market share, followed by South Korea's Samsung  (SSNLF) with a 19% market share as well. India smartphone shipments reached 37 million units between April and June, according to Counterpunch, an increase of 9% year-over-year. 

But the market is down 5% quarter-on-quarter.

Apple "remained the top-selling brand in the ultra-premium segment," which are phones costing at least $650 or 45,000 rupees, the report said. "Increasing ‘Make in India’ capabilities for both local consumption as well as exports, offline push through multiple promotions and consumers’ brand preference (...) helped Apple retain its edge in the premium segment."

It added that: "The opening of its own e-store, iPhone SE 2022 and offers on other models will further drive Apple’s shipments in the coming quarters."

Apple unveiled the iPhone 14 early September, and it has a base price of 79,900 rupees in India, the equivalent of $980.

By producing its new products locally, Apple will be able to attract customers looking for the latest innovations and the group will also be able to benefit from local aid at a time when the Indian authorities are seeking to boost the tech sector by all means.

In a recent study released Sept. 21, JPMorgan analysts said that they expect Apple to move 25% of its entire iPhone production line to India by 2025 as it looks to diversify its supply chain. They added that by late 2022, 5% of ‌iPhone 14‌ production will be moved to India, with a significant decision taking place three years later. 

In addition to moving 25% of ‌iPhone‌ production to India by 2025, JPMorgan analysts said the company could also move 25% of other product lines to the country, including AirPods, Mac, Apple Watch, and iPad.