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Would a President Trump stifle Apple’s innovation?

Would a President Trump stifle Apple’s innovation?

January 19, 2016

It’s no secret that Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump wants to see manufacturing return to the United States. One of Trump’s regular targets is Ford, which the businessperson has threatened with a 35 percent import tariff on cars made in Mexico. In a speech at Liberty University in Virginia, Trump has upped the ante and called out Apple for its global manufacturing strategy.

I think we’re going to get things coming. We’re going to get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.

A lofty goal, but is it achievable? If it is a possibility, what would the result be as far as Apple’s continued innovation of iOS devices?

As things stand now, quite a few of the components that go into your iPhone are already made in the United States. For example, information compiled by CompareCamp (infographic at the bottom of this post) shows that Samsung produces a large portion of the A8 and A9 chips in its U.S. plant in Austin, Texas. Regardless, the majority of the components are sourced in Asia, and just about everything is assembled in China.

Image credit: CompareCamp

Image credit: CompareCamp

If everything from a manufacturing standpoint were to move to the U.S., CompareCamp estimates the extra manufacturing cost per iPhone would only rise four dollars. The outlet points out that Apple’s manufacturing strategy is motivated by scalability and supply chain risk, not cost. An example of this is the nine months it would take to hire 8,700 engineers to manage 200,000 factory workers in the US, compared to just 15 days in China.

Apple certainly could move its manufacturing process to the US, and the cost per iPhone might remain relatively stable. However, innovation would be stifled, at least in the short-term, and the lifecycle of each version of the iOS device lengthened. Assuming Trump is elected president and finds a way to force Apple to relocate its manufacturing strategy onshore, such a move would probably set back the iOS ecosystem.

Image credit: iDownloadBlog

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