As Apple wants to rely less on China, the Cupertino firm is now producing components for AirPods in India. Currently, Apple only manufactures regular iPhone models in the country, marking a significant step in the company’s push to expand production outside China.
According to Bloomberg, Jabil Inc. has begun shipping AirPods enclosures or plastic bodies to China and Vietnam, where the wireless earbuds are assembled. The publication says this movement is not public yet.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions and political tensions between China and the US, Apple wants to rely less on the Asian country. With India wishing to grow its manufacturing sector, the Cupertino firm is taking advantage of this political-economic change by having dozen of its Chinese suppliers receive initial clearances to create joint ventures with Indian partners.
“Making enclosures is typically the first step for full-fledged production of AirPods,” said Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint. “Now that Apple has won initial approval for some suppliers including Luxshare, they are obviously building a supply chain for the end product.”
Although Jabil is the first to make components for AirPods in India, Luxshare is the main wireless earbuds manufacturer, meaning Apple could soon start making some AirPods in the country by diversifying its supply chain from China and Vietnam.
In October, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple could be planning to expand its manufacturing process to Thailand as well. He says the country will be Apple’s main non-China production site for MacBook, as all MacBook models are assembled from production sites in China.
In the medium term, within 3-5 years, the analyst writes, at least the US market can be supplied by assembly sites located in non-China to reduce potential impacts from political risks.
In the long run, Kuo believes that:
- The non-Chinese markets will be supplied by assembly sites located in non-China, while the Chinese market will be supplied by assembly sites located in China;
- Assemblers can conduct new product introductions in China and non-China.