Apple has long made a habit out of diversifying its supply chain whenever possible, which is why it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the company is poised to begin a trial production of next-gen AirPods in Vietnam.
According to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review, Apple has tasked its manufacturing partner Goertek with handling the initial trial run. The move marks a bit of a departure from the current setup wherein AirPods production is handled in China. At this point, it remains unclear if the upcoming production run in Vietnam will focus on the current AirPods 2 or on AirPods 3 which may launch before 2020.
That said, it’s worth noting that Apple currently has no plans to move the entirety of its AirPods production out of China.
The report reads in part:
However, the move to launch trial manufacture, usually a precursor to mass production, in Vietnam comes as Apple explores with suppliers the consequences of sourcing 15% to 30% of its output outside of China, where cost and manpower advantages are beginning to fade. Nikkei Asian Review reported last month that the California tech giant had asked suppliers to examine the costs of such diversification.
Apple’s move here shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given previous reports indicating that Apple has actively been exploring moving some of its production out of China, in large part due to the ongoing trade war. Just last month, for example, word surfaced that Apple sought estimates from suppliers regarding the associated costs involved with moving upwards of 30% of its manufacturing capacity to other locations outside of China.
Lastly, a new investor note from earlier in the month claims that AirPods 3 will offer up a slightly redesigned form factor, improved water resistance, and more. While details remain murky, there are rumblings AirPods 3 may launch before the end of the year, though that seems somewhat unlikely given how recently AirPods 2 hit store shelves.