Anyone who understands how iPhones and Macs are made knows how
hollow President Trump’s
about Apple bringing production back to the United States
are. But if you’re looking for a solid anecdote explaining why,
then The New York Times delivers with
a story about a screw, and how it, and other factors,
handcuffed Apple’s ability to mass-produce the ill-fated Mac
Pro in Texas.
Here’s the gist:
But when Apple began making the $3,000 computer in Austin,
Tex., it struggled to find enough screws… In China, Apple
relied on factories that can produce vast quantities of
custom screws on short notice. In Texas, where they say
everything is bigger, it turned out the screw suppliers were
months of delay, Apple ended up ordering the screws from
China. Eventually, Apple found a supplier in Texas that could
produce 28,000 custom screws, although they weren’t the exact
screws needed nor in the right quantity, according to the
NYT. And they were delivered over 22 trips, often in a
Lexus driven by the maker’s owner.
As the NYT explains, no country, and certainly not the
US, can compete with the scale of the Chinese supply chain, the
sheer number of skilled workers, the infrastructure that can
move things around quickly, or the relatively cheap labor pool.
Those jobs aren’t coming back any time soon, if ever.
Ironically, it was Tim Cook in his former role as Apple’s chief
operating officer that helped lead the global shift to foreign
manufacturing some 15 years ago with the outsourcing of iPod
assembly to Foxconn.