In a recent report from the New York Times, the newspaper gives us great detail about why Apple outsources iPhone manufacturing to China, and how Steve Jobs changed the iPhone 2G weeks before the release.
The report features many short stories from Apple employees who give first-hand accounts of why Apple decided to move their manufacturing overseas. The article also gives a very interesting look of President Obama’s Silicon Valley Dinner back in February of last year . At the dinner, many Silicon Valley executives attended, including Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.
Many executives were able to ask President Obama questions. While Steve Jobs was talking, President Obama interrupted him and asked him “what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?” Steve Jobs simply replied with “Those jobs aren’t coming back”.
The article also goes in depth about how weeks before the iPhone 2G was supposed to release, Steve Jobs had the screen changed from plastic to glass:
In 2007, a little over a month before the iPhone was scheduled to appear in stores, Mr. Jobs beckoned a handful of lieutenants into an office. For weeks, he had been carrying a prototype of the device in his pocket.
Mr. Jobs angrily held up his iPhone, angling it so everyone could see the dozens of tiny scratches marring its plastic screen, according to someone who attended the meeting. He then pulled his keys from his jeans.
People will carry this phone in their pocket, he said. People also carry their keys in their pocket. “I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” he said tensely. The only solution was using unscratchable glass instead. “I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.”
Most of us probably already know why Apple outsources their manufacturing. Money. Not only is it cheaper to outsource to China, you can also hire workers much faster than in the US. Jennifer Rigoni, Apple’s former Worlwide Supply Demand Manager said “They could hire 3,000 people overnight. What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”.
“The entire supply chain is in China now,” said another former high-ranking Apple executive. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”
The article overall gives a good look at why Apple decides to manufacture their products in China. You can check the full 7-page report over at the NY Times.