By Christian Zibreg on Nov 27, 2013
It looks like Apple’s suppliers and manufacturers in Taiwan in China are finally catching up with demand. First we learned that Foxconn is finally ramping up iPhone 5s production, with handset ship times being lowered earlier this week to three to five days for online orders.
And now, despite the initial rumors of shortages concerning the new iPad mini with Retina display it would appear that production bottlenecks are easing quickly, with the Cupertino company reportedly having ordered a total of nearly four million Retina iPad minis in the month of November… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 25, 2013
Quanta Computer, an Apple supplier mainly responsible for assembly work concerning computers like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, may have been tasked with building Apple’s two next big things, a rumored health/fitness wearable device and an assumed big screen iPad.
The company and its Fremont, California plant are listed on Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Page as a final assembler for Macs and now the notoriously hit-and-miss DigiTimes is reporting that Quanta has inked a deal to product the so-called iPad Maxi for the late-2014, in addition to iWatch production for the second half of next year… Read More
By Cody Lee on Nov 22, 2013
As part of its ongoing efforts to expand its North American operations, Foxconn is looking to invest over $40 million over the next two years building a high-tech manufacturing facility in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Bloomberg is reporting this week that the company, which counts Apple as its largest client, will spend $30 million on the new plant and $10 million in research and development at Carnegie Mellon University… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 18, 2013
The world’s top contract manufacturer, Taiwan-based Foxconn, is responsible for approximately one-third of total iPhone 5c volume and now the company is allegedly winding down handset production at its factory in Zhengzhou, northern China, and shifting capacity to the flagship iPhone 5s, according to “industry sources” who spoke to DigiTimes, an industry publication with a mixed track record.
The story somewhat corroborates last week’s article by a Chinese blog which said another iPhone 5c manufacturer, Pegatron, slashed iPhone 5c production significantly because the flagship iPhone 5s was selling better to early adopters than the iPhone 5c, which is basically the last year’s iPhone 5 repackaged in colorful cases… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 13, 2013
‘Gadgets that build gadgets’ should have been the headline of the Bloomberg piece which details Apple’s multi-billion dollar investments in custom-engineered manufacturing equipment, machines and robots which dutifully churn out your shiny new iPads and iPhones with their diamond-cut chamfered edges, precision crafted down to the micron.
‘The Rolex of smartphones’ is impossible to mass-produce using the existing tooling and manufacturing techniques. Because Apple custom-designs everything, it shouldn’t surprise you that it also designs its own manufacturing processes, techniques and cutting-edge production equipment.
Just how does the company utilize its billions on these pricey robots? Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 7, 2013
Current CEO Tim Cook under Steve Jobs used to run Apple’s vast network of suppliers and contract manufacturers and has largely been credited with turning the company into a well-oiled money-printing machine. But making sure trains run on time involves the incredible complexities associated with hiring tens of thousands of workers – and fast, too – who tediously assemble iPhones and iPads in factories located in China and Taiwan.
Apple and its manufacturing partners have been taking a lot of heat over worker treatment in these sweatshops so the iPhone maker eventually started tracking the work hours of 1+ million supply chain workers and took other proactive measures to ensure fair hiring.
But now, another issue is making headlines: the inhumane treatment of would-be employees by employment brokers who take high advance fees from workers and their families, contrary to Apple’s rules. Read on… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 7, 2013
As officially confirmed earlier this week, Apple has teamed up with smartphone cover glass maker GT Advanced in a $578 million multi-year deal which gives the iPhone maker steady supply of sapphire glass, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide hailed for its unmatched scratch resistance and hardness second only to diamond.
GT will be investing big money in large capacity furnaces to forge the precious gemstone on an industrial scale at Apple’s upcoming eco-friendly, 700-employee facility in Mesa, Arizona. Although the deal is subject to “certain exclusivity terms” and GT expects “substantially lower” gross margins, it’s of strategic nature and will be cash positive to GT.
By some estimates, GT’s revenue next year could experience an unheard-of 15x increase based on the Apple contract alone… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 6, 2013
Apple has long relied on Foxconn, the world’s top manufacturer, to assemble its gadgets. In small part, Apple also taps Foxconn’s rival, Taiwan-based Pegatron, on a regular basis for some orders. According to a new Wall Street Journal report Wednesday, Tim Cook & Co. have now contracted an additional two companies to help assemble iPhones and iPads amid growing demand for the products.
Mind you, it’s not like Apple suddenly stopped loving Foxconn – the company will continue to build the iPhone 5s – but the report makes a passing mention of Apple apparently being dissatisfied with the high repair costs over defective iPhone 5 units and ongoing labor controversies surrounding Foxconn… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 5, 2013
Yesterday, New Hampshire-based materials manufacturing company GT Advanced announced a multi-year agreement with Apple to provide steady supply of the sapphire glass, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide known for its superior durability and scratch resistance. Apple relies on this pricey gemstone to protect the iPhone 5s’s Touch ID sensor and has been using it for camera lens cover on all iOS devices since the iPhone 5.
The strategic supply agreement is valued at more than half a billion dollars in cutting-edge equipment and some folks have combed through Apple’s patent filings for a clue to building next-generation iDevices with sapphire glass covers instead of Gorilla Glass.
Here’s a video tour of GT’s manufacturing process behind making the scratch-resistant, tougher-than-Gorilla-Glass sapphire displays for smartphones… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 4, 2013
The Arizona State Governor Janice K. Brewer has just issued an interesting press release confirming that Apple will open a manufacturing plant in Mesa to build components for products. The manufacturing facility will create more than 700 high-quality jobs in the first year and “generate significant capital investment”.
She kept mum on details, but the “significant capital investment” rules out server farms and perhaps alludes at some sort of a new plant to assemble products other than the new Mac Pro, which is being assembled in a Texas plant. UPDATED with new info, jumps past the fold for the latest.. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 23, 2013
Not that long ago, these three words – ‘Made in USA’ – stood out for American quality, craftsmanship and reliability. What a difference a few decades make! As everyone’s been building virtually everything in China, small wonder even Apple’s boss Tim Cook, like his predecessor Steve Jobs, suspects those manufacturing jobs won’t be coming back anytime soon. What might is (some) assembly work.
It was only recently that the nation’s tech brands began experimenting with doing final assembly domestically. Motorola, for example, is putting the final pieces of the Moto X in place at a Texas plant, previously a Nokia facility.
Apple, in the meantime, has always designed its products in California and tapped its vast network of suppliers and contract manufacturers in Taiwan and China to build its gizmos. That’s starting to change now as Apple’s next-generation Mac Pro marks the company’s return to the US in a limited manufacturing capacity.
The upcoming dream desktop is being assembled in a $100 million U.S. plant. And like Motorola’s, Apple’s facility is located in Texas. So, how does Apple build such a sophisticated and radically rethought desktop computer? Industrial designer Greg Koenig took a closer look at an eye-candy Mac Pro assembly video Apple played at yesterday’s keynote, here’s what he gleaned from it…
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 21, 2013
Apple has long wanted to make a switch from the traditional LCD IPS display technology utilized on iOS devices to Sharp’s cutting-edge IGZO technology.
Unfortunately, Apple’s been unable to offer an IGZO iPhone because the struggling Japanese giant had been facing tremendous technical hurdles preventing mass production of these sophisticated panels.
According to the latest supply chain chatter, Sharp has now successfully commercialized production of IGZO panels for smartphones and will begin manufacturing them at its Kameyama Plant Number 2 before the end of 2013… Read More
By Ed Sutherland on Oct 16, 2013
Foxconn, the Tiawanese electronics assembler closely linked to Apple and other electronics firms, admits student interns who helped build Sony Playstation 4 consoles worked both overtime and at night in its China factories. Foxconn is the world’s leading contract manufacturer whose fortunes are closely tied to Apple’s.
In a statement last week, Foxconn said there were “a few instances” where interns worked shifts which violated company policies. However, the company which also assembles iPhones and iPads for Apple, said “immediate actions” will be put in place to prevent further incidents… Read More
By Ed Sutherland on Sep 12, 2013
Apple’s fine-tuned supply chain is legendary, but we are just now getting a glimpse into its inner workings. As supply side wonk turned CEO Tim Cook Tuesday unveiled a new line of iPhones, an intriguing report revealed the coordination required to get the handsets to your local Apple store.
Using mammoth chartered jets and schedules so elaborate they almost make D-Day seem like a Girl Scouts delivery route, iDevices designed in California and built in China arrive in the US without a second to spare. A former FedEx executive likens it all to a Hollywood movie premiere… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Aug 14, 2013
Because of its size, popularity and visibility, Apple is being increasingly scrutinized for outsourcing gadget assembly to Asian contract manufacturers.
Although Tim Cook has pledged to bring some of the manufacturing jobs back to the United States with the new ‘Made In USA’ Mac Pro, critics still slam the company for sourcing product components from Taiwanese vendors. Per usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
For example, while iPhone screens are made by Asian vendors, its cover glass is being manufactured in the US by Gorilla Glass in Kentucky. As for the chips, the engine that drives the iPhone is Apple’s in-house design, fabbed by Samsung in Austin, Texas.
I stumbled upon a very nice infographic that details the source of the many iPhone components, including the speakers, vibration motor, rear earth metals and more, jump past the fold to have a look… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Aug 5, 2013
If a new report by the somewhat reliable DigiTimes is to be taken at face value, then Apple may shift production of its all-in-one iMac desktop from the current manufacturer Quanta to Pegatron. Now, Pegatron already builds older iPhones, has reportedly been commissioned to build Apple’s rumored plastic iPhone and used to make iMacs.
Nowadays most iMac orders are being fulfilled by Quanta, which also assembles the majority of MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 23, 2013
As we sift through Apple’s June quarter numbers and decipher vague hints suggesting a blockbuster Fall, rumors of a next-generation iPad mini continue to swirl. And where DigiTimes sees a Retina iPad mini in October, KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo sees a launch in March or April of 2014 given the battery and performance challenges stemming from driving a much smaller, thinner and lighter Retina display.
A pair of recent supply chain reports points to Apple commissioning Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (aka Foxcon) with assembly of the second-generation iPad mini. The company is additionally said to have included new suppliers in the iPad supply chain… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 17, 2013
Just a day after AllThingsD confirmed analyst Piter Misek’s claim of the iPhone 5S production ramp-up in July, a Chinese website leaks a few images that appear to depict a bunch of production iPhone 5S units.
There’s no way of determining authenticity of the photos because the iPhone 5S is widely expected to re-use the two-tone design of the current-generation iPhone 5.
The Chinese source also spelled out technical specifications that match up with past rumors.
Go past the fold for the full breakdown… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on May 29, 2013
We first heard from The New York Times that the world’s top contract manufacturer Foxconn is looking past the iPhone amid Apple’s slowing growth. Reuters previously ran an anti-Apple piece which asserted that Tim Cook & Co. are looking to shift from Foxconn to rival Pegatron, which currently builds the older iPhone 4/4S models.
On Monday, The Wall Street Journal ran a story claiming Foxconn is looking to manufacture, market and sell its own mobile accessories compatible with iOS devices. Moreover, the story goes, Foxconn is said to be expanding its high-margin retail operations and investing in content and services.
Today, the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper sheds more light on the subject, claiming Cook has re-shuffled Apple’s supply chain and re-iterating that Pegatron will be the “primary assembler” of Apple’s rumored low-cost iPhone, which the Journal expects to be offered “later this year”… Read More