“Apple reportedly explored India as an alternate destination to make the iPhone 11, but lack of resources put it off”
Apple has been looking to disperse the manufacturing of its iPhones beyond China for a while, in a bid to reduce dependence on a single country. This was largely based on the US government’s prolonged and protracted trade war against China, leading Apple to consider alternate destinations such as Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and India as potential manufacturing hubs for even its latest generation iPhones. Now, a recent Wall Street Journal report on the matter has not only shed light into how Apple’s dependence on China is expected to remain, but also explained how Apple had to refrain from making the iPhone 11 in India.
According to the report, Apple had reportedly considered making the iPhone 11 in India for a while. This would have made the 2019 iPhones the first ever new generation iPhones to be made outside of China. However, it had to stop its plans on the track even before a single manufacturing line was set up in India, owing to supply chain and skilled labour issues. As per WSJ’s report, India was not “ready to supply skilled labor or the robust infrastructure Apple expects.”
It further states that despite Foxconn setting up a major new plant in India that is scheduled to ramp up overall production, they are unlikely to make any of the latest generation iPhones out of its India plants. WSJ quotes a source close to Foxconn’s outside-China plans to state that in India, perhaps the greatest issue is in getting key component supplies. The requisite supply chain required for major components in the smartphone manufacturing process is not there. Furthermore, Apple deemed that India’s workers are not ready to produce the high end OLED display panels that feature in Apple’s latest iPhones. As a result, the deal was scrapped, and the iPhone 11 was never made in India.
The report speaks volumes regarding India’s position in the smartphone manufacturing process. While plants are being set up, India remains dependent on China for sourcing key components that are essential in the smartphone manufacturing chain. This will likely play deterrent to making India a key manufacturing destination, unless it manages to set up a supply chain network to support factories making devices such as the Apple iPhone. So far, certain older models of the iPhone, including the iPhone XR, are made in India.
While it doesn’t look like Apple is planning to manufacture the iPhone 11 in India any time soon, the company does have plans to launch its first retail store in the country in 2021. Moreover, Apple will also launch its official online store in India later this year as the company is reportedly not happy with the way e-commerce platforms are selling its devices with discounts.